If you own a custom Jeep Wrangler in Keene, NH, you are only a hop, skip, and a jump away from great off-roading trails in New Hampshire and Massachusetts. These trails can vary in intensity and terrain, but most of them hang around intermediate four-wheeling. While some of these trails might not actually be a hop, skip, and a jump away from Keene, NH, you’re obligated to take what you can get at this point. Plus, it’s better than going wheeling off-the-grid through the woods and accidentally onto someone’s property…possibly resulting in a call to the cops, right?
The nice part about living around the Mass and NH border though, is that you are only two or three hours tops away from the coast. So, if you have a rig for dune cruising, you have options.
Nauset Beach, for example, is a great place for those looking to do some beachfront wheeling. Located on the lower Cape, specifically, in Orleans, this beach offers seven different trails of hard packed and soft sand terrain. These trails all add up to miles of easy off-roading around the dunes. You can gain trail access from the main beach area, which is also offers other services like a bathroom, showers, and even a snack bar. When you are done playing in the mud and sand, you can come back, wash off, and grab a bite to eat.
It might be a little ways out, but it’s definitely worth the ride for a weekend. Keep in mind though, you will need to get a free Nauset Beach sticker to slap on your off-roading vehicle for trail access.
Cape Cod National Seashore
Since we are on the subject of the Cape, might as well mention that off-roading vehicles are allowed on the sandy beaches on the Cape Cod National Seashore. This is perfect if you have a custom Jeep Wrangler that’s set up to play strictly in the sand and want to go have some fun in the sun with a great view of the water. Obviously, permits are required in order to use the off-road vehicles on the Cape and can be purchased for the season. If you live in NH or Mass though, it’s a bit of a drive. Therefore, if you only plan on making a trip or two down there, you can buy a seven-day pass for a fun getaway.
Keep in mind, this is strictly off-roading on the beach itself. Therefore, if you are looking for a more mixed off-roading experience down by the ocean, then Nauset beach is more for you.
October Mountain State Forest
Getting into some mainland trails, it’s only appropriate that October Mountain State Forest kick us off. This location also requires free daily riding permits. But, that pass gives you the ability to off-road in the largest forest in Massachusetts, which boasts around 30 miles of scenic trails. Apart from the perimeter roads, most of the park terrain requires 4WD access across the rugged trails. And while there may be a few trails for riders of all levels, most of them are for more intermediate or experienced riders.
Just like the degree of difficulty, the terrain also varies. You can take a cruise down the shoreline of the lakes located in the forest, or do some rock-crawling on the steep mountain paths that twist up through the rugged landscape. It’s important to note, however, that hikers may share this trail as well, so definitely err on the side of caution.
Oh, and as a bonus, if you want to camp out for a couple of days so you can hit all the trails, a campground is available.
Beartown State Forest
Sitting between October Mountain State Forest and Pittsfield State Forest, in terms of the combined trail distance, Beartown State Forest offers 25 miles of trails that are plenty wide enough for whatever type of off-road vehicle you are looking to drive. The terrain difficulty itself is also a mix between OMSF and PSF, and consists mostly of hard packed mud that runs through thick tree-covered areas. In the spring, the trails become muddy, and there are some steep uphill and downhill twists and turns with loose rock and tree roots.
So while it might not have lakes or as many miles of trail as OMSF, it’s still plenty fun. Plus, it provides many more opportunities for intermediate and beginner off-roaders.
Pittsfield State Forest
Pittsfield State Forest is located in western Massachusetts, and provides you with 14 miles of pure trail-blazing adventure. Daily permits are required and give you access to mountain terrain. While the old logging roads will be enjoyed by the beginner and intermediate drivers, experienced riders are able to enjoy the steep slopes and twists that run up the mountain. This means — just like October Mountain State Forest — it’s important to know your skill level and select the appropriate trails. Even more importantly, make sure you have a friend or two nearby in case of an emergency.
The cherry on top of this mountainous sundae? Even outside of the rainy spring season, some of the roads stay muddy, which is perfect for those itching to get their vehicles dirty in spring, summer, or fall.
Jericho Mountain State Park
Located in New Hampshire, this park recently opened in 2006. With over 65 miles of off-roading trails, it could easily be considered the motherland of off-roading in the Mass and NH area. It has mud, rocks, roots, a squishy forest floor, and plenty of other types of terrain. It’s also a mixture of green, blue, and black trails that all interconnect, with most of them suited for drivers in the intermediate level. The paths are also made from old logging trails, but have both natural and man-made obstacles for added fun.
A cool thing about JMSP, is that it also has a 4WD loop, gravel pits, and even a junior training area, making Jericho Mountain State Park the place on this list that offers you the most — unless you are interested in off-roading on the beach, of course.