The Best Off-Roading Destinations in New Hampshire
“Live Free or Die.” That’s the official state motto of the most rugged, rustic, and roguish state of the six that comprise New England. Massachusetts, with the surfeit of universities in and around Boston, is the capital of America’s intellectual tradition. Maine, famous for lighthouses and lobster, is the quiet northern frontier of the Eastern Seaboard. But New Hampshire, inland but for a few miles of coastline and crammed among the edge of the Appalachian range, is all about freedom: freedom to avoid sales tax, freedom to buy and sell alcohol on a Sunday, and freedom to get behind the wheel and drive where the roads don’t run. We’ve picked a few of the best off-roading destinations in New Hampshire for you to traverse. Enjoy living free. It’s better than dying.
Jericho Mountain State Park
As the mecca of off-roading in New Hampshire, Jericho Mountain is in the White Mountains, near both the Maine and Québec borders. This state park features what it bills as the Northeast’s first 4X4 and truck trail, offering the thrill of off-roading to motorists who aren’t behind the wheels of ATVs. If you want to tackle Jericho Mountain, you had better do it fast—those mean New Hampshire winters will shut down the trail until next spring.
Field & Forest Recreation Area
In the southern tier of the Granite State lies one of the best off-roading destinations in New Hampshire: the Field & Forest Recreation Area, roughly equidistant to Keene and Manchester. Before you tackle these dense New England woods, take heed of a few important considerations. First, this is not a public course the way state parks or highways are—you will have to pay an admission fee first. Also, you should know that the forests in “field and forest” can lead to lots of mud and a lack of sunlight. That means you should take steps to ensure you have maximum visibility on the trails.
New Hampshire’s Many Class VI Roads
Something that makes New Hampshire’s highway system stand out from those of other states is its classification series. The Granite State sets aside what it calls “Class VI roads” as those that lack the requisite maintenance measures that keep them suitable for everyday travel. In other words, these are the roads that the Department of Transportation has given up on, allowing them to fall into disrepair. You know the phrase caveat emptor? You can call these roads caveat agitator: let the driver beware. While Class VI roads are no good for the family minivan, they’re perfect for off-road vehicles, for whom they represent an intermediate stage between highway and trail. Find a map of New Hampshire’s Class VI roads, and come up with a circuit of your own.