Groton Town Forest
The town of Groton got its name in 1655 a few years after John Tinker set up a trading post among the Nashaway Indians near the junction of the Squannacook and Nashua rivers.
When I'm riding in the Groton Town Forest I like to think that the trails that I'm enjoying aren't very much different than the trails that these early settlers explored. And that possibly I'm on some of the same trails that these long departed settlers and Indians used for hunting, trapping, fishing and to get from one village to another. And at times, in these woods, gazing over a seemingly remote river from a high bank, you may imagine yourself back in those earlier times too.
But, those early trail users didn't have the advantages that I do mounted as I am on a mountain bike.
The trails in the Gorton Town Forest are fast, mostly smooth, sometimes sandy and sometimes hilly. They flow in and out of the woods on a series of old woods roads and singletracks. You'll frequently find yourself cresting and then riding along the ridge of a drumlin that was left there by the last glacier. But then, a few minutes later, you're riding alongside a riverbed and ducking under low hanging branches. Too hot? Why not go for a swim in that river?
In all you'll find about 14 miles of trails in the forest. Liberally apply mosquito spray if you ride in the evenings in the summer, and I suggest carrying a copy of the trail map just in case you get lost. You can get an official copy of the map at the Groton Town Hall.
There are 6.4 miles of marked trails in the forest. They form a loop and they can be ridden in both directions. The marked loop is probably the best introduction you can get to the area. It stays pretty close to the outer boundaries of the forest. On your second and subsequent loops, begin exploring some of the many side trails that branch off the main trail and, in time, you'll have ridden, and enjoyed, everything. Oh! The side trails all connect back to the marked loop, and once you learn them, you'll be able to link together any number of good rides.
One note: The Groton Town Forest lacks the stones that frequent most of the riding areas in this region. That's because the soil was deposited there as the last glacier receded. It reminds one of riding on Cape Cod.
From route 495 take exit 31 and follow route 119 (Great Road) until it becomes Boston Road and then Main Street in Groton Center. After the center bear left on route 225 where it splits off from route 119. Follow route 225 for a little over a mile and turn left on Town Forest Road. It turns to dirt. Follow it to the end, going past all the houses and park in the dirt parking area.
The Groton Town Forest is surrounded by private property. Respect the rights of property owners by not riding past signs that ask you not to. In early spring the trails can be pretty muddy. Protect them by not riding here until things dry out.
By Bill Boles