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Second College Grant

See the Second College Grant chapter for directions to the Grant. Use extreme caution when riding on roads in the Grant — the roads are maintained for very large logging trucks.

Newtonweg Loop

DEMANDING ride (2+ hours)

WARNING: Recent logging activity has turned a short road section of this ride into a slash wasteland which may require you to dismount and bushwhack/clamber for up to a quarter mile. A map and compass may be required for this section.

This loop allows you to do the famed Newtonweg Trail and return by the shortest way. By returning to the Management Center, it takes half the time that “Always Tie Boat” ride takes (see below). After the Newtonweg, there isn’t much technical riding, but there are some great lunch and swimming spots along the Swift Diamond River.

Start at the Management Center and head west on the Swift Diamond Road. Pass the Alder Brook cabin and ride out to the green gate. You will have covered a couple of good size hills by this point. Go over, around, or under the gate.

Continue on the road and go straight when you reach a road that descends on the left. From here, continue up and across the hill. There will be a couple of spur trails that go off to the right. Stay left, and when you get the chance, take a left turn down hill, across a bridge, and up the other side of the valley to a T-intersection.

Take a left and head towards the Newtonweg. Continue straight where the improved road ends. The Newtonweg continues across the hill, up, and then downhill. There are numerous blowdowns, puddles, and streams to liven up the action. Don’t go too fast on the downhill — there are a couple of serious washouts and stream crossings.

Here, the trail used to connect to the Fourmile Brook Road, but recent logging activity has obliterated the trail. You may have to dismount and bushwhack/clamber over slash. A map and compass may be useful here. Your goal is to cross Fourmile Brook (shallow, but somewhat boggy in this area) and get up the other side to Fourmile Brook Road. Head west (or a little south of west) — it's difficult to miss the road.

Take a left and eventually head down a gradual hill. You will reach the Swift Diamond and be heading upstream on its north bank. After a ways, you come to an intersection. Take a left, cross the bridge to the south bank of the Swift, and head up the hill on the road. Watch out for logging trucks here, as on all of these roads. A little ways up the hill is a fork in the road. Take a left if you don’t want to ride all the way to Errol. This road rolls up along the side of the hill. After what will seem like quite a ways, thanks to all of the vertical, there is a left turn with a green gate across it. Go over, around, or under the gate and head down the road. At the bottom, cross the Swift Diamond River and take an immediate right onto a grassy path. Make your way through the boulders littering the way. If you were to continue straight up the hill on the road, you would reach a T-intersection with the Swift Diamond Road. A right would take you back to the Management Center.

On the flat, grassy path along the Swift, the riding is only moderately technical, with a few ruts and soft ground to make things interesting in a few spots. The wetness of the ground largely determines the trickiness of the stretch. Keep in mind that in August and early September there are lots of raspberry and blackberry bushes along this trail. The trail brings you back to the Swift Diamond Road, where a right turn will take you back to the Management Center.

“Always Tie Boat”

VERY DEMANDING ride (3.5+ hours)

WARNING: Recent logging activity has turned a short road section of this ride into a slash wasteland which may require you to dismount and bushwhack/clamber for up to a quarter mile. A map and compass may be required for this section.

This is the primo ride of the Grant. It is long and covers both the best and the most technical riding (or walking) in the Grant. Multiple stream crossings, lots of vertical trails, lovely clear cuts, and the chance to see a huge moose are some of the things that make this a great ride. As with all rides in the Grant, be prepared for almost anything. If someone gets hurt or a bike breaks, you’re on your own. Carry tools, spare tubes and patches, pumps, rain gear, first aid gear, food, and water. In the fall, wear lots of blaze orange and cover any white on yourself. A bouncing white helmet looks remarkably like a deer-tail at 150 yards through the woods.

First, follow the Newtonweg ride to the end of the Newtonweg section (including the last quarter mile where the trail has been recently obliterated by logging activity — see the Newtonweg description). This is the best section of riding in the Grant, but not the toughest. The technical section from hell and two more stream crossings await you on Always Tie Boat. At this point you might be a third of the way through the ride, but over half of the way through the Newtonweg. Take a right on the dirt road and head up the Fourmile Brook valley.

Continue on the gradually uphill-rolling road past a couple of hunting camps. Eventually, the road splits. Take the right fork, which turns back to the left after crossing a large wood bridge. This climbs more steeply on the right (east) side of the valley to the height of land (elevation 2300 feet). This is where things get a little tricky, so pay attention.

After the height of land, head down the far side. Ride through the sharp hairpin to the left and continue downward for a few hundred yards. The area on the right is clearcut. One- to two-hundred yards before the road ends, there is a small trail that exits down the hill from the right. This is a small skid road that doesn’t look rideable. It weaves through the slash, with deep ruts, stumps, and slash blocking the way. It is rideable at least most of the way down to the woods. The most important thing you can do with this section, though, is find it. It heads down through the clearcut, which boasts a very large and bountiful raspberry patch, and considerable bear sign, so be careful and make lots of noise. The trail eventually heads to the left, and enters the woods. If you can’t find it, follow the fall-line to the back of the clear-cut, and head across the hill to the brook. The trail is much easier to find and follow in the woods.

The trail through the woods is rarely better than the trail through the clearcut, but is steeper and rockier. It is possible to put together long rideable sections, but there are many cruxes that may not be rideable. So, ride and dab or walk your way down this trail. When the trail crosses a large stream, you are probably 2/3 of the way through this section. Eventually, somewhat worse for wear but nevertheless elated, you come out onto another dirt road. You have switched from the drainage and road systems of the Swift Diamond River to those of the Dead Diamond River.

After collecting your wits and your group, head to the left. You immediately reach an intersection, where you need to take a right. Yes, there is a short uphill, but it is the last one for quite a while. Continue on this dirt road. Enjoy the scenic vistas afforded by the mammoth clearcuts, made after a spruce budworm attack, and watch out for continuing logging operations. Bomb down the large descent. After you cross a wooden bridge and see a small cabin on the left, stop.

At the back of the small field, across from the cabin, a trail enters the woods. It rejoins this main dirt road close to where the road crosses the Little Dead Diamond River. It’s not too technical, but is a nice ride that follows the Little Dead along a small gorge, where it is definitely alive and kicking. At the back, right corner of this field, take this path.

The trail is flat and marshy, and has many low limbs. Short riders wearing protective glasses have the big advantage. A trail joins this one from the right, from who knows where. Find out and let us know. Continuing straight/left, our trail soon crosses a stream, a crossing that may be rideable and is definitely fun to attempt. After a few hundred more yards, the trail empties into the Little Dead once again, but it doesn’t look like the trail leaves the river on the other side. Have trust and walk your bike 50 yards down stream (this should not be more than knee deep) and pick up the trail on the opposite side.

Continue down the trail. The gorge is to your right in this section and warrants exploration and a swim in the summer. After a fast, fun rolling section, the trail comes to a fork. Take the left fork. The right one quickly dies out despite the surveyor’s tape continuing in a straight line. If you’re up for a serious bushwhack, this may take you down to Hellgate.

Continue on the left fork out into some more clearcuts. Keep your eyes out for moose from now on; the swampy bottomlands around the Dead Diamond are the places to see them. The trail, which has improved into a fair dirt road, eventually returns into the dirt road that you were on originally. Unless you still have lots of energy and want to ride up the technical section from hell and the Newtonweg, take a right.

Cross the bridge and consider heading to Garfield Falls, about two miles up the valley to the left on the far side of the bridge. To head back towards Hellgate, the Grant, and the Management Center, take a right. The road rolls along in the valley here. Watch out for cars coming around the sharp turns.

Consider taking a quick side-trip down to check out the gate of the Hellgate. The first trail to the right before you pass the buildings and other parking areas for the cabins at Hellgate goes down to the river. Don’t carry too much speed towards the end, or you may take a mean drop into the water. Check out the eroded rocks and, if it’s hot (or not), take a swim. The holes worn in the rock by the current and the remains of old logging dams are worth exploring.

Back on the road, head south towards home. If you haven’t done any long rides lately or if you didn’t pack enough food and water, you may become unraveled on your way back to the Management Center. Relax, enjoy the scenery and think about a soak for your legs in the river and dinner.

Little Diamond Gorge

MODERATE to DEMANDING ride (2+ hours)

As described in the Grant chapter and in the “Always Tie Boat” ride, this is a neat area, and alone makes for a shorter ride among all of the long rides in the Grant.

Head north on the Dead Diamond Road, through the gate, past the Hellgate area, then take a left over the bridge. The first major left turn, where the main dirt road turns up and to the right, is where you want to head if you want to ride up the trail. If so, take this road that is smaller and decreasing in size and quality and follow the directions for the “Always Tie Boat” ride in this section in reverse. If you want to ride down the trail, the way the “Always Tie Boat” ride does, continue to the right, up the main road until just before the wood bridge, and with the cabin on your right, you enter the back of the field on your left and follow the directions as written. A great picnic ride.

Remember: Always ride single file! Especially on the narrow roads of the Grant, side-by-side riding is dangerous on roads used by motor vehicles.

Dike Site–Wilson’s Mills–Hellgate

MODERATE or DEMANDING ride (2+ hours)

This is a relatively flat ride for the Grant, with a fun, but not impassable jeep trail and single-track section. There is a great view of the mountains to the west and north of Hellgate, including Mount Pisgah. This may be a good morning or afternoon ride. You can also take a different route back to the Grant, through the front gate, which is shorter and flatter, but paved.

From the Management Center, head north on the Dead Diamond Road. There are a few log landings on the right, but continue for roughly a mile. You are looking for a promising looking jeep trail/log landing area to the right that heads for a low point of land between the higher land of the Diamond Peaks to the south and the increasing elevation towards Halfmoon Mountain to the north. This is the Dike Site Road, which is described in the Grant chapter.

The jeep trail continues over the low height of land here and then seems to end at the back of an old landing area. The trail continues from the back of this area as a single track trail. In the summer this trail is probably somewhat overgrown, but it shouldn’t be hard to follow. The track is relatively flat, but is often swampy, with many sunken logs to make it technically challenging. There are a few old wooden bridges that don’t warrant trust. After a wet and mucky mile, or more, the trail comes to a fork.

At this fork, the trail is approaching an area of pine trees. Take the left fork. After a hundred yards or so, the character of the trail changes. You leave the wet, clearcut area and ascend slightly onto firm ground and into pine woods. Follow this rolling, fast trail through to an improved dirt road. On the right, above a clearcut, there is a house presently under construction but soon to be finished.

Continue down this road to the logging yard. Pick your way through the logs and mud and reach the dirt road next to the white house. Take a left on the road and ride until you see a covered bridge on the right. Cross the covered bridge. Mind your handlebars on the road retainers — they might not fit if they are standard width! So, consider walking across the bridge. This is the Magalloway River. Continue up the hill from the bridge to Route 16 and take a left.

If you want to head back to the front gate of the Grant, take a right on Route 16. This is shorter and less hilly than taking the route that follows the left on Route 16.

Watch the traffic on Route 16. Continue north on Route 16 back across to the left (west) side of the Magalloway, then take your second left. The first left is just after the bridge over the Magalloway. You then go over a small rise and past several houses. This is Wilson’s Mills. As Route 16 drops and turns sharply to the right, bear left onto a dirt road.

This road rolls along Abbott Brook, gradually heading uphill. At the one major right turn, continue to the left. The road eventually climbs more steeply. At the height of land there is a good view to the west. Continue down the long descent to the Dead Diamond Road. Take a left at the intersection to head back towards the Management Center. Consider checking out Monahan’s Bathtub on the way (see the Grant chapter).

Loomis Valley Road

MODERATE ride (1.5+ hours)

This is probably the most popular ride at the Grant. Timber operations will be shifting from the western to the eastern half of the Grant in the next couple of years, and the road will be improved. Get it while its hot.

It doesn’t have any death-defying technical sections, but it does climb and descend a bit as it heads north towards Stoddard Cabin. The Loomis Valley Road is mowed, so the grass shouldn’t be more than knee-high, and there are one or two generally smooth tracks to follow. Combined with the Swift and Dead Diamond Roads, this makes a good loop through the heart of the Grant. The loop may take as little as one and a half, or as many as three or four hours.

From the Management Center, head left (west) on the Swift Diamond Road. The Loomis Valley Road is on the right after a mile or two, and is marked by a sign and gate. Head on up. There are a few little tricky points on the Loomis Valley Road in the form of washed-out culverts that are now deep little ditches, so you should control your speed, at least on the first trip up the trail.

After trending downhill for a ways, the trail meets and then departs from the banks of the Dead Diamond. After a little ways further, the trail crosses a stream that is easily rideable in low water. The first sharp left the trail takes after the stream is not the one you’re looking for.

Eventually you reach the crossing point for the Dead. The trail is relatively flat at this point, and makes a sharp left turn towards Stoddard Cabin, which is a half a mile or so further. To cross the Dead, turn right and walk your bike across the foot suspension bridge. Continue up a couple of hundred yards more out into the field and to the Dead Diamond Road. To head back to the Management Center, take a right.

Last Updated: 10/21/12