There's no easy answer on this one. Moat Brook has graded gravel roads, root-filled singletrack and some banked, flowy downhills, and some solid cross-country riding. So in a nutshell it has a bit for everyone's taste and ability.
Time To Complete
Spring, Summer, and Fall
Late summer, early fall is the prime time to visit Moat Brook. Hit it before the leaves pileup and the chilly air requires an extra layer. Spring can be a little sloppy especially on the gravel roads that connect some singletrack sections. Spring also brings a healthy population of black flies and mosquitoes at least in mid-May.
Dog friendly, but beware there are deer, moose, and all sorts of other wild animals in the area. Pay particular attention in the fall when moose can become more aggressive. On occasion there are horseback riders on the trails and roads so keep dogs within sight.
Moat Brook area is on National Forest land so if you park at the Mineral site parking lot at the end of High St you should have a parking pass.
Moat Brook is a little corner of the White Mountain National Forest that has a nice variety of terrain. Whether you connect sidehills, long singletracks, gravel roads, or just dabble with a quick flat loop, there are plenty of options for all abilities. Ride from the village of North Conway or park at one of the access points. From within the network you can get to the top of White Horse Ledge for spectacular views of the Mount Washington Valley followed by some serious downhill and exciting open slabs for the adventurous. If slow and casual gravel roads is more your ride, you can find that for miles too.
What Makes It Great
Electric Loop, Upper and Lower Stoney Ridge, Mineral Site, Tent Boulder Trail are the meat and potatoes of the Moat Brook area. This trail system started as a fistful of rogue trails cut on the National Forest; now it’s fully-sanctioned and maintained by White Mountains NEMBA and USFS, and it even has signs. (The Cedar signs, in particular, seem to be a tasty treat because they are constantly chewed up by hungry Black Bears, so grab a map from The Red Jersey Cyclery, Stan & Dan’s Ski shop, or Eastern Mountain Sports before you venture out.)
The easiest way to get a taste of Moat Brook is to park at the mineral site parking lot, off of High Street (see map). From the Mineral site parking you can access a nice long side hill, Tent Boulder Trail, without too many ups or downs. And at the end of the trail, you can hop on a gravel road and grind back to the lot. If you want to add miles just pick another trail like the Electric Loop or Upper Stoney Ridge, which both branch off the gravel road. Upper Stoney Ridge is the one that will switchback all the way to the top of White Horse Ledge, and the open slabs of granite that give you a spectacular view of the surrounding valley.
Who is Going to Love It
If you’re looking for a cruiser, stay off the singletrack and enjoy the wide open fire roads (gravel). If you want a challenging uphill, head to Upper Stoney Ridge and the summit of Whitehorse Ledge. For those in a group of various abilities just make a plan, split up, and meet on the gravel road at a junction and mix it up with some singletrack and some gravel roads. I’m a bit partial to the Electric Loop for its flowing singletrack and minimal climbing; it even has a few sections of narrow wooden bridges to spice it up, and works for a good warm up. Add the Ultimate singletrack and your well on your way to a perfect cross-country combination.
Directions, Parking, & Regulations
There are several access points to Moat Brook. The classic out of the way spot is the Mineral Site parking lot on High Street.
If you’re biking from the village of North Conway, the closest access is through Cathedral Ledge State Park. Head up the auto road and bang a left on an obvious woods road. You may want to ask a local about the point of access because it’s not well marked. You could also get in through Echo Lake State Park (Fee) but that’s a bit complicated. There is also a brand new access off of Westside Rd (Conway Recreation access sign)
There’s no open or closed hours. Dogs are welcome, but beware it’s the forest, and there are moose, bears, deer, and coyotes, so keep your dog close for the dog’s sake and the wildlife’s. One other reminder: it is a multi-use trail with runners, bikers, hikers, and even a horseback rider or two who all come to enjoy the area.