Lower Paugussett State Park is a mythical place. I’d heard the terrain was insane. I’d heard the trails were not marked well. And I’d heard that if you got through the gnarl, there was a bootleg trail network built by some guy named Kurtz.
Mark lives across the street from the entrance. He’s ridden a bit of it, and wants to get permission to develop the trails. Ben and I rode with him yesterday to explore for that purpose, and maybe to find Kurtz’s trails. We hoped to run into him, to get to know what he knows about the woods here.
The road in is half a mile of badly maintained dirt that dead-ends in a parking lot. It sees so little use that I found two pop-tops from 1970s beer cans on the ground. From there we fired-roaded it until a trail presented itself. We crossed a stream, a gas pipeline, climbed some, dismounted to get under windfalls, and came out in a cul de sac.
Reversing course, we crossed the road we came in on. And then we climbed through classic New England rocks and laurels and scrub. We walked a lot too, since that’s what the trail was made for. We came down stuff that rivaled Haviland Hollow. We trusted our bikes to get us through the angular rocks. We followed other fire roads. We got our feet wet in multiple streams. Or maybe it was the same stream in different places.
We had no idea.
But we felt like we had to be nearing Kurtz’s trails. And then, when we were at our go-back point, we came to a T. There they were. Clearly leaf blown. Clearly laid out for mtbs. Right or left? Either way looked fine, but left took us back toward the cars.
We went left, and it wasn’t a hundred yards before we realized the trail flowed the other way. But it was still pretty rideable. If we were better, it would have been very rideable. We talked about how the good riders we know would eat this shit for breakfast. Mark fumbled a switchback, rolled down the hill in a somersault, and leaped to his feet with a flourish.
We pushed on until the trail looped back away from the cars, and then, conceding to adulthood, we bushwhacked out. In the parking lot with some Hull’s Export in our bellies, Ben brought up Kurtz’s Strava tracks.
Holy shit! We just touched the south end of that system. Kurtz has miles of trails in there.