Had a great ride this past weekend. Overall, my thoughts of good rides have turned away from the typical "25 mile road loop," or "drive to trail head and do a 10-mile loop." Sure, I still do plenty of rides like that, but if given a choice, I prefer to head out with no agenda and explore. The great thing is that, even though I grew up on the North Shore, and I've been mountain biking and road riding the area for 10 years, I'm still finding new stuff.
I seem to usually head towards Beverly/Topsfield/Hamilton/Wenham and points further north, but this past weekend I decided to follow the new bike path in Peabody and explore some of my old stomping grounds in West Peabody (although, I don't remember doing much stomping). The bike path follows an old railroad that had a fire road along side of it, and back 25+ years ago, I was cruising down there on my very first BMX bike, coaster brake and all. Those trails linked to another extensive network of trails that went all the way to North Reading and an area known back then as "Reading Track," because of the MX (as in motocross) jumps, berms and trails. Did any of that still exist?
Yes, but first I have to commend the City of Peabody for the great work it's doing on the bike path. Currently, it starts (or ends) by Lahey Clinic by the North Shore Mall and goes all the way to the end of Russell Street by the Ipswich River with the exception of a section that spits you back on to Lowell Street just before Bourbon Street. The bike path resumes just past the shopping center at Lowell and Russell Street. The path is paved, smooth, and will have a fence up on many sections. HOPEFULLY, people all across West Peabody will use this as a route to get to the mall rather than drive.
Anyway, I only rode a short distance on the bike path this past weekend as I popped off the path and headed up to Brooksby Farms as I recalled that there used to be some trails up there. Sure enough, they were still there and a VERY worthy diversion. After a couple of loops I got back on the road and then back to the path. I followed it to the end (although I did see some trails off to the side that I'll explore next time) and ended up near the intersection of Russell St and Birch St. I had to dig deep in my memories to think of the trails that were in that area, but my front wheel found them and soon enough I was skirting the Bostik plant's property following trails deeper and deeper into the woods--just like I did when I was about 13. Wild. I can't believe the woods hasn't become yet another cookie-cutter housing development with a fancy gate, a cul-de-sac, and a cheesy name reminiscent of the natural beauty that was torn down to allow for the creation of the look-alike homes that spread like a scourge defining the word "sprawl." But I digress. Apparently, motocross riders and quad riders have kept these trails alive. Unfortunately, I couldn't explore too thoroughly as I turned the corner on one trail and was faced with at least a 1/4 t0 1/2 meter of water as far as I could see. The mud below the water was soft and deep so I was thwarted.
I'm glad to see that the trails are still there. I'll work on linking them to Danvers Town Forest (which I hear has some trails) and then ultimately to Harold Parker. Maybe someday, the trails will be dry!