When my son got his first balance bike at two years old, my husband and I looked at each other and realized we didn’t know where to take him! While the driveway worked, it wasn’t a very interesting ride, and his skills weren’t really improving. We found success by finding a few trail systems where he could safely ride and be challenged without it being too difficult. Now at age seven, he rides a 5-speed and can handle many miles at a time. These trail systems have become frequent family adventures and a source of wonderful memories. So dust off your helmet and get the family on two wheels in order to try out these five places to bike with kids on the Seacoast.
What to bring
Before you hit the trails there are a few things I’d recommend packing in a backpack for your ride:
- First Aid Kit: There’s nothing worse than biking two miles on a trail only to have your child fall and scrape a knee – especially if you have no way to help them! I pack a small first aid kit on hikes and bike rides in case there’s an accident.
- Water and Snacks: Make sure the family has access to water and food on your trail ride. This will keep energy up and muscles feeling good.
- A Trail Map: Either print a trail map (each linked in the descriptions below), take a photo of one at the trailhead (if offered) or use a map app like AllTrails to help guide your way.
- Safety Gear: Keep safe by packing extra layers/jackets, a flashlight/headlamp if caught out after dark, and of course, helmets for the whole family.
5 places to bike with kids on the Seacoast
Here are my five favorite places to bike with kids on the Seacoast:
Dover Community Trail: Watson Road to Whittier Street
Location: Watson Road, Dover, New Hampshire
Mileage: 4 miles out and back
Dover Parks maintains the parking lot and the Dover Community Trail system. It offers a wide, flat dirt road type trail that parallels the Cocheco River. This is a popular spot for family bikers, dog walkers, and fly fishermen. Park in the (free) dirt lot on Watson Road in Dover next to Seacoast Charter School. From the gate, bike straight down the trail. It will take you next to the river and through a forest corridor. Near the end, it travels in a tunnel under the Spaulding turnpike and along a private neighborhood road until it reaches Whittier Street. Here, turn around and bike back the way you came. This makes a four mile out and bike ride. Of course, you can take a shorter (or even longer) ride if you’d like. There are also small spur trails to walk down to the river. Check out the map here. There are no bathrooms or other facilities available at the trailhead.
Rockingham Recreational Trail: Newfields Entrance
Location: Newfields, New Hampshire
Mileage: Up to 52 miles!
The Rockingham Recreational Trail is 26 miles long and runs from Newfields to Manchester, New Hampshire. It offers a wide, flat rail trail that travels through forest, past marsh, and across the occasional road. The Newfields section is frequented by trail runners, dog walkers, and bikers. To access, park at the “old train depot” off Ash Swamp Road in Newfields. Parking is free and there are no facilities at the trailhead. Check out the map here. While this is a lot of trail to bite off as a family, we like biking for a couple miles before turning around. It’s one of the best places to bike with kids on the Seacoast due to the easy terrain and accessibility to the trail.
Stratham Hill Park Pump Track
Location: Stratham, New Hampshire
Stratham Hill Park offers over 200 acres of community land including amazing fall foliage hikes, dog walks, and a playground. However, some don’t know that it also has a very kid friendly pump track. The pump track is a great place for kids to build skills on hills, turning, and even little jumps. My toddler loved bringing his balance bike here so it’s definitely for all ages. To access this part of the park, take Jack Rabbit Lane in Stratham to the end where there is a sizable dirt lot. From there, head straight back through the field and the pump track is located a quarter mile down the Tote Road Trail. If you and your child get adventurous, take to the many mountain biking trails in the park itself. Bring a map so you don’t get lost. This is one of the best outings for kids on the Seacoast.
Location: Rochester, New Hampshire
Mileage: 0.7 – 1.8 miles
Pickering Ponds is a walking (and biking) nature park managed by the city of Rochester. The trail system is located down a dirt access road off Pickering Road. It is just across from 374 Pickering Road. To access the trail, park off to a side on this dirt access road and proceed through the fence. It is a favorite spot of bird watchers and is a great parent-friendly trail due to the stroller and bike friendly easy path. The trail system is set up that there are two rectangular ponds that offer flat wide tracks around them. A loop of the closest is 1 mile and perfect for a young one just learning to ride. For more mileage, circumvent both ponds for 1.5 miles. Or, for an added challenge, do an entire 1.8 mile loop of the park that includes dipping down into the riverside section. While this section of trail is also easy – getting up and down a short hill to this section will probably require walking the bike. Check out the map to make yourself acquainted with the system and for more info about visiting this nature park, check out my blog here.
Location: Amesbury, Massachusetts
Mileage: 2.6 miles out and back
Just over the border in Massachusetts, the Amesbury Riverwalk, or Amesbury Rail Trail as its sometimes called, is a great way to practice biking on asphalt without the worry of traffic. This wide, paved bike trail runs 1.3 miles along the Powow river. In addition to offering views of the river and city scape, it features historic interpretive signs for passersby to read and view. The trailhead is accessed in Heritage Park where bikers can park on County Road/Water street. You can view a map and learn more about the trail here. And if you’re looking for even more places to bike in Massachusetts, check out Boston Moms list of family-friendly bike trails!
Biking is a great family friendly activity
Whether you’re taking your toddler out on their first spin on a balance bike, looking for an easy place to teach your child to peddle a bike, or just searching for a safe spot for yourself – there are many places to bike with kids on the Seacoast.