Scouting Inland Woods
It’s a dirty job, but someone’s got to do it. As if being a camp director didn’t already sound like a vacation dressed in business casual clothing, every once in a while, I also get to scout new trips for camp. Most recently, I was scouting a potential new mountain bike trip aboard my Salsa Pony Rustler.
When I pulled up to Inland Woods, “skeptical” didn’t even begin to describe how I felt. The trailhead is located in a back corner of the Inland Hospital parking lot in Waterville, Maine. Coming from MRO, this looked like Times Square by comparison, and not the starting point for wilderness adventure. That said, it was a convenient access point, and featured excellent signage and maps. While all these things screamed “overpopulated trail system,” I soldiered on and was immediately rewarded for the choice.
The trails are excellent. They are well marked, well designed, and laid out perfectly to make the most of their unique location. Once you enter the woods there is rarely a hint of “civilization” other than the occasional opportunity to look out at Waterville’s small airport, which backs up to the woods. The coming and going of the occasional Cessna only added to the “cool factor” of the trip.
In terms of trail design, it would be very hard to ask for more, especially considering the type of riding we crave at MRO. The climbs were gradual and forgiving, and the descents featured burmed turns, begging to be carved and “whoop” sections that forced a bugs-in-your-teeth smile as I rode along. The trails reward a rider who lays off the pedaling long enough to “pump” the bike, using the downhill sides of bumps to gather speed.
This is not a trail for rabid adrenaline junkies seeking jumps, drop-offs, and first-aid opportunities, but it is absolutely an exciting ride for beginners and advanced riders alike. It’s a perfect fit for MRO’s fleet of KHS SixFifty bikes. Overpopulation was not an issue at all. Despite the well-manicured trails, I didn’t see one other rider out there the entire time. If you like riding and plan on coming to MRO next year, a trip to Inland Woods may very well be in your future.