Mountain Biking Douglas State Forest

Here’s your trail guide to riding the crown jewel of Southern Massachusetts.

Centrally located, less than an hour’s drive from Boston, and home to more than 30 miles of trails, Douglas State Forest is a mountain biker’s dream. The hills are gentle, and the trails vary from technical singletrack to mellow dirt roads—which means you’ll be able to find a fun linkup no matter your skill level. 

Recommended Rides 

With more than 30 miles of trails, Douglas State Forest has plenty to keep riders entertained for a full day, if not a full weekend. Here are some local favorites. 

Best for Beginners 

This 4.5-mile loop connects a number of green trails, creating a ride that offers lots of bumps but only 300 feet of total elevation gain. From the Wallis Trailhead, head south, connecting the Red Pine, Cedar Street, Laurel, and Eagle Bridge trails. (Tack on the intermediate “Roundabout” loop just after the bridge if you’re feeling brave.) When you intersect with the Schmidt Trail, hang a right and head north. This will dead-end into the Ridge Trail, which you can take east back to the parking area. 

Best for Intermediate Riders

This 8.6-mile loop links some of the forest’s best intermediate terrain, including the iconic Midstate Trail (which traverses Massachusetts from north to south). Start on the Bill Annesse Trail and go northwest until you reach the yellow-blazed Midstate Trail. Go north until you reach the Ridge Trail parking area. Just north of that, you’ll veer left (right) onto Double Bit. Connect this with Knapp Interval, Trip Hammer, and 29 Gallons and 3 Quarts to get back to the trailhead. 

Best for Endurance Fiends 

Looking for even more mileage? Try the 15.7-mile Douglas Loop, which encompasses most of the northern half of the forest. The whole thing covers nearly 1,000 feet of elevation gain—not bad for this lower-lying area. 

Best for Experts

The Black and Blue Loop combines two of the zone’s best expert-level trails (the Chamberlain Pond Trail and Gore Turnpike) for a 6.2-mile journey over rocky, technical trail. To do it, start at the auxiliary parking area off Route 16 and head south. Take your first left to gain Gore Turnpike and follow the loop clockwise. 

Other Adventures 

Douglas State Forest isn’t just a haven for mountain bikers. The forest’s rare cedar wetland provides precious habitat for birds and amphibians, and many of the trails in the network’s southern corner are reserved for hiking only. The 92-mile Midstate Trail, which crosses the entire state of Massachusetts, is popular among backpackers and section-hikers alike. 

Too hot for cardio? Paddle a canoe out into Wallum Lake and drop a line for perch and bass, or spend a day casting for brook trout from the shore. 

Getting There

Douglas State Forest is located on the traditional homeland of the Nipmuc people about a half-hour’s drive south of Worcester, Mass. To get there from Boston, take Interstate 90 going west. Around Auburn, take Exit 90 to head south on I-395. You’ll stay on I-395 for about 10 miles until you get to Webster. There, take Exit 3 to gain state Route 16, which bisects the state forest and is lined with trailheads.   

Where To Park

For the best access to beginner-friendly routes, target the dirt parking lot off Wallis Street, not far from MA-16. This offers direct access to doubletrack leading into the trees. There’s also a parking area just off MA-16, which provides more direct access to the center of the forest and the easier trails there. 

For the best access to intermediate lines, park at the Bill Annese Trailhead and ride north from the lot. For advanced trails, aim for the auxiliary parking area (a pullout north of MA-16) and head south.

Refresh & Refuel

After early-morning rides, snag brunch at Big Belly Cafe, which offers home-cooked diner fare in friendly, down-to-earth digs. If you’re more in the mood for pizza and beer, stop in at The Lodge Restaurant for its atmosphere and Apollo Pizza for its speed.

All articles are for general informational purposes.  Each individual’s needs, preferences, goals and abilities may vary.  Be sure to obtain all appropriate training, expert supervision and/or medical advice before engaging in strenuous or potentially hazardous activity.