Saturday, August 23, 2008

Biking Mine Falls Park in Nashua

What a beautiful summer day! We left our "to do" list for another day and took our bikes out to Mine Falls Park in Nashua. This is a classic case of almost overlooking what's in our own backyard. Mine Falls is about 4 or 5 miles from our house, in the heart of the city. It's a 325-acre woodland between the Nashua River and the Nashua Canal.

We certainly were familiar with Mine Falls before today...we cheered on our youngest daughter at many a soccer game there back when she was playing. We've also kayaked the Nashua Canal and had even walked a trail or two. But today was really the first time we explored several trails by bike and I have to say, I think we'll be returning often. This place is easy to get to and it's cool.

The trail surface at Mine Falls is mixed, but very rideable. Short sections are paved and the rest is mostly hard-packed dirt. The Park has a series of intersecting loop trails, which are part of the New Hampshire Heritage Trail. Don't ask me the trail names or the mileage -- all I know is that we crisscrossed the Park and were often riding alongside the picturesque river or the canal.

In a few spots, the road noise from the Everett Turnpike is pretty loud, but otherwise this is a very pleasant ride. We spotted a Great Blue Heron, a turtle sunning itself on a log, and several ducks napping. Mine Falls is a fairly busy spot -- you'll be sharing the trail with other bicyclists, walkers, and joggers. But don't let the busy-ness or the intermittent noise scare you off from enjoying the park. It really is a small oasis in the heart of the city.

A guy named Chuck who writes Hiking with Chuck has an incredible amount of information about Mine Falls on his website, including some trivia. Apparently Chuck jogs or walks MF at least once a week. Aside from detailed information about the flora and fauna you can see there, Chuck has some interesting observations and stories about the wildlife he's encountered in the Park.

We're hoping to return before too long, possibly to launch our kayaks onto the river from one of two boat launches. Maybe we'll see you on the trail or on the water!
Things to Know Before You Go: There are orange markers trailside, indicating poison ivy. Sorry, I can't recall seeing any facilities here, although there may be some near the soccer fields.

Directions: Mine Falls has several access points. We entered the park from the end of Simon Street, off of West Hollis Street. You can also enter at the end of Coliseum Avenue in Nashua or near the Conway Arena on Riverside Street (near Nashua High South). I realize these are general directions only, but at least it gives you some starting points.

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