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Level: Intermediate
Length: 8 mi (12.9 km)
Surface: Singletrack
Configuration: Network
Elevation: +340/ -332 ft
Total: 84 riders

Mountain Biking Franklin Falls

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#3 of 114 mountain bike trails in New Hampshire
#384 in the world

Franklin Falls or 'The Dam' is a NEMBA maintained trail which provides little in the way of technical riding, but has a lot of great, fast, winding single track. Here you'll find quick, short, heart pounding climbs, short downhill sections, roots (not too bad), one very small plank crossing a river (on Whaleback), and a few log obstacles (quite small). There are about ten single trails, but you can mix it up however you like.

My favorite route is starting from the parking lot, take the gravel road through the chain link fence, which will meet up with another gravel road, which you'll follow. THAT will merge with another road, but keep on heading forward, turn right on the next small path, and immediately on your right will be the beginning of Whaleback Trail. Whaleback will criss-cross that small path a few times, but keep going.

Eventually, you will come out on a road that doesn't look well used, and up the hill immediately in front of you begins Middle Trail, which is marked in orange. From here, I like to go to Chicken Ravine, and to do that take the first right (marked with orange), and continue on. Pass the entrance to Bee Trail, and the next one on your left is Chicken Ravine. This is by far my most favorite trail. You can fly down the middle, but where's the fun in that? On either side of the ravine, you'll notice paths of other bikers going up and down the walls of the gully. Do it. At the bottom, you'll come out on the beltline road/service road. Take a left, skip the first trail on your right (marked in red) and take the next trail on your right, which is the Lost Wall Trail. That will take you to the yellow-marked Heritage Trail, which will come out back on the service road. Take a right, and a little ways up on the left continues the Heritage Trail. I usually just take heritage back to the middle trail, and from there I hit Moose Gully back to the gravel road, and then back to the parking lot. Takes me about an hour, and my friend is usually done running by then. I am not the best direction-giver, but here is the link to the map.

Franklin Falls is an excellent place to bike. The ground here soaks up water like nothing else, and I've yet to see a puddle (except on the beltline/service road, near the river when stuff likes to flood during the spring), and attendance is really low, yet the trail seems to be very consistently maintained. One warning: if you're like me and want to ride out onto the dam, at the very end, past the gazebo, where the grassy land ends in something of a point next to the fence, there is an underground yellowjacket nest (as of April 12, 2010). Just be careful.

Map: http://www.nae.usace.army.mil/recreati/ffd/Franklin%20Falls%20Map-8.5x11.pdf

First added by _koneco on Apr 14, 2010. Last updated May 7, 2020. → add an update
Before you go
  • Drinking water: unknown
  • Lift service: unknown
  • Night riding: unknown
  • Pump track: unknown
  • Restrooms: unknown
  • Fat bike grooming: unknown
  • E-bikes allowed: unknown
  • Fee required: unknown
This trail information is user-generated. Help improve this information by suggesting a correction.
Getting there
Heading north on I-93, you'll take exit 22 and turn right (turn left if you're heading south) onto New Hampton Rd (route 127). Go about 3 miles, and there's a sign for the dam on your right. Nice little parking lot, too. If you're going THROUGH Franklin, NH, you want to take exit 20 (from either direction) and turn right. Keep going straight for about 5 miles ... you're going to pass through the town of Tilton and then Franklin, and you will take a right at the light onto Victory Dr / 127, which will then go up a fairly steep hill. Keep going about 2 miles, and you'll see the sign on the left for Franklin Falls.
Here's their address:
U.S. Army Corps of Engineers
Franklin Falls Dam
46 Granite Drive
Franklin, New Hampshire 03235
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  • Alex L.

    Super fun set of trails here. Nothing super lengthy, as others have commented, but you can make a day as long or short as your want. Some little bridges set up, but easily avoidable. As a beginner, this was definitely more of a push that other trails I've been on. But so fun and so enjoyable. I will definitely be back!

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  • Darleen Sarausky

    The trails are fantastic, but I went November 4, 2017 and found a few trees down that you had to climb over, so watch yourself when riding down the trail. Other trees you could ride over no problem.

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  • [email protected]

    Very nice (flow) trail network. My personal favorite was Sniper.

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  • eringil7

    Awesome single tracks. Definitely worth checking out!!

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  • freeberg

    When I moved to Bristol NH from VT I was bummed at finding no good riding trails close to home. Highland is supreme downhill but I like to climb, too. Then I found Franklin Dam. At first I was disappointed at the lack of tech trails, but now I freakin love riding fast on all the short trails. Sniper is GREAT, they're all great short trails for fast ups and downs or just an easy ride for those that want that. I like the fast ride and I have no problem riding the same trails 3 or 4 times to make a good 2-hour ride. The ups are short so you can stay in gear and power up most climbs. The park isn't that big so it's hard to get lost for long, as there are access roads/trails around the whole perimeter that lead back to the start. If you find the Middle Trail you're all set. Most trails eventually cross the Middle trail. That goes to Heritage(Which parallels Beltline) or Coleman. Left on Heritage and a Right on Coleman takes you back where you started. Whaleback parallels Coleman for a nice ride out of the park. For a good taste of the park and a warm- up start on the Rogue Trail, which is the first trail you'll come to. When that comes back on the Coleman Rd. take that past Moose Gully and hop on Sniper for a good ride. That comes out close to where it starts on Coleman. Take a right and go back up to Moose Gully for another sweet ride that goes to Middle Trail. By then you are pumped and ready to go. Caddywhompus, Stump, Bee are all good rides worth doing again, and again. When you get to the Mighty Chicken, get ready. It is a good fast ONE-WAY downhill ride. The Chicken Ravine trail is the crevasse it slaloms down and the fastest direct ride (or hike-the-bike) back to the top of the Mighty Chicken. I ride at night so I was pleasantly surprised to find that trail. My riding buddy of 20 years moved from VT to Concord so we meet at Franklin Dam Trails which is 25 minutes north for him and 25 minutes south for me. We both just switched to 29ers with 3" low pressure tires and find these trails are ideal for that. We haven't gone past Beltline yet to check out Lost Wall, Cellarhole,Rusty Bucket or the Salmon Brook trails yet. I'll let you know when we do them.

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  • SilverVagabondGirl

    The Core of Engineers knows how to host MTB trails, like one of our fave systems -Strom Thurmond in SC they did a good overall job. (Does have some unchecked erosion on roads that need attention aka waterbars.) Don't bother with Salmon Brook trail unless you seriously LOVE tight bouldery slick switchbacks. Otherwise all other trails are great - lots of flow and steeps to keep your heart pumping and designed to be fun in both directions. Facilities are clean, well kept and appreciated.

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  • Jennifer012904

    Excellent faster flowy smoother trails.. Easily navigated with some loose spots on a few trails.. Would happily go there again..

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  • sbbikeit26

    There is a nice mix of trails at the Dam. Really has something for every ability level. Trails begin as fire access roads and branch off into the woods from there. You can choose to stay on flat and windy or challenge yourself with steep and technical. Advanced riders make sure to seek out the Mighty Chicken and Ravine.

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  • akrantz

    Very cool network of trails. The rocks and roots are tough but the real challenge here is being able to lay off the brakes. These are quick trails and there are some cool drops.

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  • schwei

    Although there is not a ton of trail here, I did think this place was pretty enjoyable! NEMBA did a great job with the trails and there is enough there to put together a nice hour or so ride. Mighty Chicken was definitely a standout and was worth looping around a couple of times to hit it again! It won't be an endurance ride, but the trails are great and you'll enjoy it!

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  • ediblefrog

    Lots of great trails here. Chicken Ravine was a blast! Lots to do here a little something for everyone.

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  • JacksPerson

    I took the 45 minute ride north to try this place out on a drizzly wet day after reading about how well this place drains and is open year round even thru mud season. I was not disappointed, the trails were amazingly firm and unaffected by any rain. I did however call shinanigans when I read NO roots or rocks. In New Hampshire that is not possible. The roots are so few and small they seem non existent. This place is fast and wicked flowy, a lot of rolling can be done. There truly isn't anywhere else like this in NH.

    I followed the first half of the loop mentioned in the description but took a right up the hill to Rusty Bucket after the most awesome and gnarly Mighty Chicken!! I climbed the hill and rode Rusty Bucket, Snake Pine, Moose Gully, Salmon Trail, Sniper, and a few others. They were all great!

    The trails are tight, and twisty with lots of flow and very compact. The trail builders have made very good use of the area and terrain. There are plenty of steep descents followed up with a steep climb making most trails flow evenly in both directions. You could spend a better part of a day and cover all the trails, then spend the rest of the day putting together repeat loops that all incorporate Mighty Chicken!!!

    It is mentioned that there is not much in the way of technical stuff here. There are lots of jumps, drops, berms and features to play on scattered thru ought. There is also Salmon Trail. Rocks, roots, tight, steep, switchbacks blanketed in small viney roots and rock gardens galore! This however is like the black sheep of the system as tech is not what this system is about. This trail system is all about speed and flow...

    A hardtail would be a very good choice for this place.

    Thank you very much NEMBA for this awesome trail system, it's pure artwork!

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  • justyoureverydayshreder

    Alas the trail maps given on this site do not work here is working one

    This place is sick, I love riding here!

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  • *****

    Thee riding was off the hook! You could find a lot of good single track without huge climbs.

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  • ****

    An awsome trail system for everyone wether you like fireroads,flowing single tracks or technical decents. Mighty chicken is a must for people who love flying down hills and slalom brook i a must for people who love rocky trails

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  • Casey_Anderson

    Beautifully built and maintained trails. These trails drain almost magically, so when nothing else within 50 miles is rideable you can enjoy some really first class singletrack here instead of being stuck on your road bike. As a tourist who visited as an afterthought while on vacation, I want to thank the local mountain bikers and to the Army Corps of Engineers for these fantastic trails.

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  • DirtMissile

    Mostly buff, fast flowing singletrack. Fun wall ride on Mighty Chicken. For a technical challenge, check out Salmon Brook Trail. The map link listed above is not up to date. For up to date map and info, go to www.cnhnemba.org or http://www.nae.usace.army.mil/recreati/ffd/FRANKLIN_FALLS_MAP_85x11_Rev_6.pdf* Review edited 9/23/2010

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  • HoldFst18

    I live in the area and ride here 2-3 times a week. I feel so lucky to have such a great trail system right down the road from me. I actually start my loop on the same trails described above. This has been a great trail network for me to train every week. Although not to technical, i never get bored of any of the trails. Highly recomend for a good fast ride for a few hours

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  • Chris62

    I love riding here. Its very family friendly with lots of parking and a variety of trails for all levels below expert. A new challenging trail was just added which will please the more advanced rider.

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