After last year's Lake Winnespaukee Gravel Grinder ride I took an interest in this part of New Hampshire to add more dirt roads to my Roubaix to Brew dirt road and breweries map. Being somewhat of a topography/cartography nerd I found that were quite a few circular shaped mountains in this area. After some research I found that this part of the state was home to quite a few ancient volcanoes and Pawtuckaway State Park caught my interest. Also known as the Dragon's Eye, the concentric rings around a center mound mark the center of an ancient volcano where the magma chamber solidified and then collapsed upon itself, called a ring dike.
When I got back to 111A, I looked at my RWGPS map and found a way around. The Garmin kept trying to re-route me back to the trail and I had to stop following the course. Need to find that setting and stop it because after you hit cancel once and you are still off course it keeps coming up, over and over again.
The Portsmouth branch had a much better surface, more compact, although the rain from the previous night left many puddles and the trail was pretty soggy. Good thing I brought my Ass Saver. The rest of the bike was a complete wreck by the time I left the trail, though.
When I got to Raymond I was greeted with a treat - there was a railroad museum in an old depot and there were some cars and a small locomotive, too.
I worked my way around that and finally popped out onto Route 27 and rode north. I was trying to stay away from numbered roads knowing that people tended to drive way too fast on them. Fortunately, Route 27 had a nice shoulder on most of what I rode.
Riding into the Reservation started out with a formidable climb and the first one with the new bike and it I was able to make the climb without wishing for more gears.
Riding into the basin was magical, a northeastern version of the Land Before Time. It was totally pristince with ponds dammed up by beavers and ringed by the dike mountains. Through the trees was a quick view of the South Mountain Summit.
I guess some GPS's think the road goes through and it might for a bike but I am going to save that for the next adventure
After riding through the Ring Dike I restarted the dirt version of the course and picked up a nice dirt road heading north east towards Deerfield, NH.
Included in the route to Deerfield was a 2 mile dirt road climb that averaged 3.2% but had some punchy 9 and 10% sections
It was mostly downhill from to the Nottingham Square
and there was some dirt along the way. Climbing in the reverse direction was the first time I saw other cyclists, too.
Coming into Epping I stopped for water and then picked up the Portsmouth Branch again heading towards the ocean.
The trail ends at the Western Route Freight Main Line used to be owned by Pan Am Railways but now I think is owned by CSX.
The trail was easy to ride but in the back of my mind I was wondering if there was still going to be bridge or not.
This sign was more comforting because my Garmin was telling me the next turn was less than a mile away but the trail continued for two more miles.
In fact the bridge was so small that I didn't realize I crossed over it. I was expecting something a lot bigger for all this fan fare. It must have been closed because it was old and just a wood deck that couldn't support cars.