’Round Smarts Mountain
VERY DEMANDING ride (4+ hours)
This is a physically and technically challenging ride, with long off-road sections. It traverses remote areas that are normally inaccessible to automobiles. This makes for a better escape from civilization, but self-reliance is more important; don’t ride it alone. A few views of Smarts from new angles and several potential swimming holes top off the ride. Keep in mind that this is on private land: groups should be small and signage should be obeyed.
How To Get There:
Throw your bike in your car and head north on Route 10 to Lyme. When you come to the large white church in Lyme, get off Route 10 by bearing right. Follow this road to the Dartmouth Skiway, and park in the Skiway’s lower lot. Then, hop on your bike and head back to the Y-intersection just before the lot and take the right fork. This is the beginning of the old Lyme-Dorchester road, which the ride follows through to a maintained dirt road in Dorchester, just north of Canaan.
The road passes a left turn, which is where the ride returns to the Skiway. Ride past the trailhead for the Appalachian Trail up Smarts Mountain. Continue up the hill, past Reservoir Pond and bear left at the first fork. Wink at the ROAD CLOSED sign and continue on the main road, bearing left at the next fork. A short hill brings you to an intersection with a chained gate on the left, Cummins Pond in front of you, and a road with PUBLIC ACCESS signs pointing to the right.
Go right, along the pond. At the next intersection, go straight, uphill, and follow the main trail, bearing left. This will bring you past a bog on the left. This trail deteriorates, becoming more rocky, and turns towards the sky (uphill). It eventually empties into a large logging road. Go left, gradually uphill for a half-mile or so. Take the first visible right, which ascends in a straight line of vision as the road turns gradually to the left. This is again the old Lyme-Dorchester Road. It ascends on rocky terrain, then flattens at the height of land, then eventually descends on a rocky, ledgy, and wet (fun!) descent. Continue straight on the main trail.
At the bottom of this descent, the trail empties into progressively more well-used trails and then a dirt road. The dirt road descends steeply, but be prepared to make a sharp left turn to head north after a quarter of a mile or so. Follow this road for quite a ways. It eventually makes a steep descent, passing a dirt road on the left with a red gate across it. Continue on the main dirt road. When this road becomes paved, take the next left, onto a sharp, uphill road called Reber Road.
Take the first left, as Reber Road turns sharply to the right. The road climbs up for quite a ways here, regaining the altitude lost on the previous two descents. Take the first major left again, and the left after that. Continue uphill, past the sand pit on the right. A potential spot for a cooling dip gurgles on the left and can be spotted when the leaves are off. Signs point to a left turn that will take you back to the Skiway. Don’t take it. More good riding and all of the views lie ahead. All of the lovely clearcuts (which allow the views of Smarts) also lie ahead, and continuing through them, much of the way gradually uphill, you reach another Y in the road.
Take the left (signs point right towards Wentworth). This trail continues gradually downhill across a couple of wide, smooth ledges for a ways, then flattens out and continues through the woods in a rocky, boggy, and messy-with-logging-slash fashion.
This brings you out onto another, new logging road, (logging has recently eliminated over one-quarter of the off-road sections of this ride). If it’s cold, bundle up, because this is a long, fast descent. Cross the Appalachian Trail part of the way down. When you come into an open area with a large gravel pile on the right, slow down because a locked gate is on the far side of the bridge that the road is about to cross. Remount and continue down the hill, but with caution. Soon after one of the sharp turns you will run into the Maginot line of Quintown, a tank-proof gate to walk around. Continue down the hill and along the river.
Take the first left and ride across the bridge, then bear right at the Y, then uphill to the left at the immediately following Y. Take this road up the hill, into the open fields, and past the old barn on the left. Check out another great view of Smarts. Re-enter the woods and continue on the main road until you see an orange DOC sign that says: QUINTOWN TRAIL, 5.1 MILES TO LYME-DORCHESTER ROAD. Go right here and follow the newly opened-up road, uphill. This gets steep at the top, where the road forks — go left. Continue as the road rolls along the flanks of Smarts and then finally ends, becoming the Quintown Trail.
This rolls gradually uphill, crossing a number of wet spots and small streams, which after rainy weather make for fun puddle-splashing and technical riding. After the trail reaches the height of land, it descends sometimes steeply and often rockily. Continue to follow the occasional orange and black blazes and stick with the main trail. When your arms are fatigued and your teeth begin to rattle, you can take comfort knowing that you are near the bottom (you’ll also see an open area and a house on the right). Here you have the highest potential for getting lost.
The trail becomes more well-traveled next to the house and bears left. Go straight on the less-traveled path, ignoring all others on the left and right until it empties into a dirt road, onto which you take a left. Go down a little ways until the road makes a T with another. Take a left. This brings you back onto the Lyme-Dorchester Road.
Congratulations! Take a right, go to the Y intersection where you started, and look at your bike, then the snowmaking pond, and decide if your bike is mud-coated enough to warrant a bath.