It’s a busy year for northeast bike parks. The heavy hitters (Mountain Creek, Plattekill, Highland, etc.) are back for another year, better than ever. Then you’ve got major players like Windham and Berkshire East (Thunder Mountain) opening for the first time, with big money invested in Gravity Logic-designed runs. In addition to that, you’ve got a new crop of mom & pop ski hills making their foray into gravity-assisted riding with trails largely built by local muscle.Bousquet Mountain Bike Trails
Earlier this year we raced Oak Mountain’s winter downhill and talked to local advocates about Oak Mountain’s summer trails and plans to expand their growing system of runs. This past Saturday I had the pleasure of riding another similar park, that I’d venture to guess 99% of riders have never heard of.
Friday I stumbled upon a Facebook post advertising opening day at Walt’s Woods, the colloquial name for Bousquet Mountain‘s bike park. You’ve probably never heard of it because short of a Facebook page, there’s no mention of it almost anywhere on the internet. Intrigued by the $20 lift ticket and promise of new trails, I hit the road Saturday and checked it out.
Bousquet Mountain is not a huge hill by any means. The base of the lift measures ~1,100 feet and the mountain bike trails start just shy of 1,600ft – so you’ll get a little less than 500ft of vertical per run. It’s a 10 minute ride up on the lift and my runs were anywhere from four to seven minutes long, depending on the trail. While Bousquet only boasts six trails (at present) there are multiple lines, options and features on each run, which keeps things fun and interesting.
Tripmunk – Green Circle
Tripmunk was the first trail I rode – it’s Bousquet’s only green trail and the longest of the six. I have to take brief issue here – trail difficulty ratings are always a mixed bag. For example, Vermont’s Kingdom Trails (which I rode last weekend) has black diamond runs that would hardly be considered intermediate at most places. Bousquet’s “easy” runs don’t compare to parks like Mountain Creek or Highland where everything is smoothed out or buffed down, so be aware of that before making the trip. I would hardly consider Tripmunk death defying, but it behooves you to keep your wits about you when riding it.
Tripmunk is best characterized by larger rocks and longer, faster straightaways. There are a few steep-ish sections but nothing to get worked up over. A loamy tread surface counterbalances the off-camber nature on a lot of sections. You can tell these trails are fresh and haven’t been ridden ad nauseam yet.
Halfway down, there’s a wooden ramp that lends you some hang time if you carry speed into it. This is just a small preview of some of the other features found on the more advanced trails.
Happy Halloween, PB&J – Blue Square
Next up: Happy Halloween. The second longest route down, Happy Halloween introduces more rocks and routes, particularly through steeper sections where you really need to keep an eye on them. Part way down there’s a steep S-bend, that, while fairly smooth, is quite loose and necessitates a light finger on the brakes. PB&J was actually marked as a blue square-black diamond, which I’m guessing means it falls somewhere between the two. A brief offshoot from Happy Halloween, it’s a a little bit steeper, rockier and rootier.
Demolition Derby, Half Sack, Them Bones – Black (and Double Black) Diamond
These three are the shortest and steepest runs and really earn the black diamond designation. There are some major drops & doubles that advanced riders will find welcoming and no shortage of insanely steep & loose corners and shoots (think Plattekill). I brought my hardtail with me and I have no shame in saying I walked a lot of these sections. With my fully, or a true DH bike, I’d be on them like proverbial white on rice.
Bousquet Mountain Bike Park Days, Dates & Pricing
I went into the day not knowing much about Walt’s Woods and despite talking to a few people while I was there, I left with the same amount of knowledge. It was clear that the dozen or so riders present had a great time and really enjoyed the trails. It’s always nice to have more DH options, especially in Massachusetts, whose DH parks can be counted on one hand.
Walt’s Woods is currently open 10-3 on Saturdays and 3-7:30 Wednesday nights. Rates are $15 on Wednesday and $20 on Saturday. That’s a bargain by any measure and who knows what the future holds once they get some momentum.