Give a swift wow to the new Albany Town Forest trails, about a four-mile network of blue-blazed pathways.
With a scenic stretch along the Swift River and access from both the Kancamagus Highway and beyond the Kennett Middle School soccer fields, the trails service runners, walkers, snowshoers, skiers and mountain bikers.
The 300-acre tract is under the auspices of the Albany Conservation Commission which asked the White Mountains chapter of the New England Mountain Bike Association to map and maintain the trails.
The trails showcase an assortment of beginner to intermediate terrain like sinuous single track, grassy paths and wide and buffed ways — Trestle Trail, Davis Farm Trail, Railroad Wye Trail, Crossover Trail and exhilarating Swift River Trail. Think of much of the network as being on the harder side of easy.
The U.S. Forest Service has done GPS data collection on the network and will provide the Albany Conservation Commission with mileages and such once the government shutdown is over, according to Albany Conservation Commission member Cort Hanson.
Let's just cut to the chase. The exciting swift with its single track, surprising s-turns, berms, curves, figure eight shape and scenic spots has some of the finest views for mountain bikers in the valley. For a killer money shot and snacking place with a few log stumps for sitting, find the junction of the Swift River and Crossover Trails and contemplate the glory of the river and beyond.
Two kiosks waiting for maps stand by the trailheads, one on the Kanc 0.7 miles west of the junction with Route 16 and other with the school in sight adjacent to Hubbell Memorial Field—the club site for the Mount Washington Valley Radio Control Flying Club.
That's the beauty of bicycling. It takes you to familiar places seen anew. A sign at the field tells how on the site from 1945-1957, Henry S. "Hank" Hubbell Jr., a former US Navy aviator, operating a CAA (Civil Aeronautics Administration) approved flying school training some 3000 men and women to fly. The facility had the first radio control tower and the first scheduled airline service in the state. Prices were a tad lower for flying back in Hubbell's day. A roundtrip ticket to Boston was $18.62 and Portland a mere $8.60.
The gentle Davis Farm Trail is a nice connecting pathway between the two trailheads. The Railroad Wye Trail is a nicely wide and benign trail while the Crossover allows access to the Swift River Trail from the Kanc entrance. The Trestle Trail contains a mowed section and showcases a look at the Swift River and trestle over the train tracks behind the school.
The Swift River Trail contains a number of scenic outlooks, a split granite slab, old fire rings and even an easy to miss picnic table. No fires or camping are allowed in the forest. The western section is quite the ride.
Brochures distributed through town hall and other conduits are planned. Small laminated maps at key interactions may appear, as could interpretive signs about about the property's history.
"We will be doing some further improvement to the parking lot near the Albany/Conway town line later this fall," emailed Hanson. "The kiosk construction and parking lot improvements are being done with a grant through the Upper Saco Valley Land Trust and donated labor by the Albany Conservation Commission."
He wrote the local New England Mountain Bike Association chapter has also been key in assisting with work on the western end of the network in particular.
"We would never have been as far or as well done as we are now without their labor," he wrote. "Mike Steward has recently leaf blown the trail, which really helps the riders easily see the trail and keeps the trail bed open."