Highland MTB Park – Northfield, NH

Helmet Camera
Embedded above is a compilation of helmet camera footage we captured at Highland. It shows most of what the place has to offer feature wise. Helmet cameras can be deceptive in showing scale, difficulty, and trail details so take it with a grain of salt.

main lodge (click to enlarge)

main lodge (click to enlarge)

Website: HighlandMountain.com

Gallery: Highland MTB Park

Location:

Highland Mountain Bike Park

75 Ski Hill Dr

Northfield, NH 03276

Riding:

Highland MTB park has a little bit of everything for everyone. A lot of places say this but Highland actually delivers. They have everything from technical downhill trails to pump tracks and everything in between. Highland has been designed to be a fully featured park for everyone, not just experienced riders. They strive very hard to make the park enjoyable for riders as their skills progress and become more advanced during their riding at the park over time.

example of progressive elements in the skills park (click to enlarge)

example of progressive elements in the skills park (click to enlarge)

The downhill runs at Highland vary from beginner to technical with easy to distinguish signing throughout the park. The easy trails are very flowy with perfectly sculpted berms and less technicality. The faster you go the more challenging and fun the green trails are to ride. Fancy Feast and Cat Scratch Fever are both favorite starter trails for the day that help to get the blood flowing and get you on your game for the more technical riding during the day. They’re also great trails to hit after a long day at the park to unwind and just let it rip without as much consequence if you make a bad move.

intro wallride to green trails (click to enlarge)

intro wallride to green trails (click to enlarge)

The technical elements and terrain progress from these trails up to the blue and black trails which offer steeper terrain with rocks, roots, and other technical sections. The trail, Hellion, features some fun jumps reminiscent of A-Line (Whistler) and will have you hooting all the way down if that’s your type of trail. This trail is built to showoff your style  and jumping skills.

Eastern Hemlock (click to enlarge)

Eastern Hemlock (click to enlarge)

Treshold is one of the more advanced trails there and features some fun gaps, jumps, and drops.  Intermixed is some rocky character and offcamber terrain to traverse as well.  Hemlock features some technical spots but is pretty straight forward to ride with numerous berms, roots, and more.

Most of the trails have good flow to them and Highland is dedicated to improving every day it seems.  Trail speeds aren’t quite as high due to the style and elevation drop but Highland is a must hit location on the East Coast.  The only complaint we have would be the lift speed.

Eastern Hemlock (click to enlarge)

Eastern Hemlock (click to enlarge)

NE Style features a good mix of drops and stunts.  It drops down underneath the lift for most of the trail and you can see a lot of the features on the ride up the lift. Stunts and drops like this picture below will have freeriders enjoying this trail quite a bit.

NE style (click to enlarge)

NE style (click to enlarge)

If you’re more into dirt jumping and slopestyle Highland has you more than covered. They have 2 dedicated dirt jump areas as well as a world class slopestyle course. The slopestyle course, Killiecrankie, features large jumps and stunts for riders to hit. Highland’s premiere event of the year, The Claymore Challenge, uses this course for their slopestyle event putting the top slopestyle riders around to the test.

Killiecrankie slopestyle course (click to enlarge)

Killiecrankie slopestyle course (click to enlarge)

Their main dirt jump park offers a plethora of dirt jumps with many large gaps and superior flow. These aren’t your normal backyard dirt jumps. If the main park isn’t your style or you’re just beginning to dirt jump the Sherwood forest is more your speed. The jumps at Sherwood are a more mellow set within the woods for a nice chill vibe. At the end of the jump line they’ve created a monster wall ride to send you back to the beginning with a smile on your face.

Sherwood forest jumps (click to enlarge)

Sherwood forest jumps (click to enlarge)

Sherwood wallride (click to enlarge)

Sherwood wallride (click to enlarge)

Highland has also built a nice pump track area that can be ridden a bunch of different ways. Sessioning the pump track will leave you a little tired but it’s worth it. Dialing in manuals and transitions making it around the course in smooth style.

pumptrack (click to enlarge)

pumptrack (click to enlarge)

Newly created for the Gravity East race that Highland hosted this year is their dual slalom course. The dual slalom course winds its way down one of the old ski slopes and is quite a scene to behold. With times in the 45+ second range it is one of the most epic dual slalom tracks you’ll ever see. Designed by Kyle Ebbit the course features massive banked berms, jumps, moto style woops, and even some flat turns to really sort out the best riders. The course is available for the public to ride and is a lot of fun (hint: it’s a little hard to ride on a full DH bike, borrow a DS bike for maximum pleasure). Check out our Gravity East race gallery for more pictures of the course.

dual slalom course (click to enlarge)

dual slalom course (click to enlarge)

dual slalom (click to enlarge)

dual slalom (click to enlarge)

Highland has also created a nice skills center to help riders develop their skills in a less intimidating and consequential environment. Several drops and dirt jumps are available to hit as well as a north shore type area with skinnies.

skills center soft jump (click to enlarge)

skills center soft jump (click to enlarge)

Highland has done a great job of creating many man-made features into their courses while still keeping a very rustic woodsy natural feel. They’ve taken great care to only remove what is absolutely necessary to get trail work done. The trail work and upkeep the crew at Highland provide is top notch quality on par with the best we’ve ever seen. Weed wacking, erosion issues, and other trail work is constantly being tended to by the crew to keep their trails in optimum condition at all times during the season. You can really tell the trail crew enjoys what they do and take pride in the park. The park seems to drain and dry out relatively well with only a few damp spots on the more advanced trails. The green trails tend to hold a bit more water and become muddy due to their lack of steeper terrain skirting the rain off of the course.

Future Developments:

The latter part of the 2009 season involved opening the lower part of Hellion. Hellion used to merge into Maiden Voyage. The framework is now in place for a bridge over Maiden. This bridge plus about 7 other features (step-ups, step-downs, hip jump, tables, etc). The upper part of Hellion construction will begin before the end of the season and ready to rip in 2010. The 2010 plans include, Hellion top to bottom, more trails for all levels, a dual slalom beer league, bigger Claymore Challenge with racing event, and more camp offerings from Highland Camps.

Other notable destination info:

Located in central New Hampshire Highland is about an hour and 45 minutes from Attitash in the north. Other popular downhill destinations like Killington, Sugarbush, and Mt. Snow are a bit further away in Vermont. If you’re into riding trail and XC some of the best in the east is located near by a Lynn Woods and Vietnam around Boston.

Highland offers day passes, Three ride card (ride 3 separate days), and season passes for average rates. The season pass offers some nice benefits like shop discounts, early season bike tune, and buddy pass. Fridays are especially nice days to check out Highland has they have extended hours for those that want to ride after work or take in a long day at the mountain. Check their site for specific prices.

Various Trek bikes are available for rent while at Highland as well as armor. Both the Remedy and Session are available to ride depending on your preference. If you’re new to the sport or looking to brush up your skills you can also take lessons from their trained staff. Highland also has a full feature bike shop in the bottom floor of the lodge. They have experienced mechanics and spare parts on hand to repair any problems you may have while at the park.

bike shop (click to enlarge)

bike shop (click to enlarge)

Highland itself does not have any lodging on site. Lodging came be found near by in the surrounding area. The site has a large list of possible locations. Highland does offers a full feature café in their lodge. The café serves both breakfast and lunch with several options to choose from. We suggest checking out the burritos, ice coffee, and chocolate chip cookies if you get a chance. You can also check your email while grabbing a bite using their free wifi. Highland also features a good amount of beers available for the after ride celebration at their bar.

cafe (click to enlarge)

cafe (click to enlarge)

If you’re interested in checking out some events at Highland or participating yourself there are several throughout the year.

  • Highland Freeride Camp
  • Various Slalom and Downhill races (Gravity East and GS2)
  • Dirt Jump Jam
  • Claymore Challenge

To find out about more east coast courses check out our e.thirteen East Coast Chronicles.