CAMDEN – The town-owned Snow Bowl may be a meager mountain as ski areas go, but the newest mountain bike trail that just went in at the recreation area can roll with the big boys.

“It’s more thrill-seeking than what there is around here. To get that, (normally) you have to go to Highland Park in New Hampshire,” said Cade Patten, a senior on the Camden Hills High mountain bike team.

The new flow trail is 2,500 feet long with steep drops, dozens of banked turns and running knolls typically found on flat pump tracks. The entire course is buried in the woods on the east side of the Snow Bowl coming off a vertical drop.

While an interesting, steep, luge-like tunnel through the woods, the trail is a bikes-only offering.

“It’s something we’ve been looking at for a while,” said Snow Bowl director Jeff Kuller. “We realized at the end of our fiscal year in June (that) we actually had some surplus money, unspent funds. We had a nice donation from an individual. All of a sudden we had a way to do it. It moves people pretty fast and there are blind corners. It’s unlike our other trails.”

The design follows the natural terrain, creating a snake-like course that turns and drops into banks and berms with far more speed than a switchback.


The mostly straight-down ride offers no time to take in the woods or chat with fellow riders. There are too many quick drops and turns here, and that’s the unique part. It’s an adrenaline-rush section that throws high-speed riders sideways along berms before pitching them into rolling jumps that suddenly drop steeply again into other berms.

For some riders, it’s a bit too hairy, while others will wonder why more flow trails don’t exist in Maine. “It’s terrifying. I’m more of a climber. But you can take it as fast as you want,” said Cole Ellison, another senior on the Camden Hills team that was riding the trail Tuesday.

The course was expensive to build, even with volunteers. A professional trail company priced the project at $20,000, but tapping local mountain bike enthusiasm, the Snow Bowl built it for just under $8,000, Kuller said.

Jeff Anders, president of the local New England Mountain Bike club, is an assistant mountain bike coach at Camden Hills, and the trail’s architect and builder. He may well spend more time building mountain trails than riding them.

The area’s youth riders have taken note.

“It’s only halfway done but it gives you a glimpse of the possibilities,” said Patten, the high school student. “Back when I was a freshman, there were only a few trails at the Snow Bowl. Now they have opened up so much.”


Really, the crown of mountain bike downhill action in northern New England is Highland Park in Northfield, N.H. Kuller said that’s the model the Snow Bowl is working to emulate.

With eight miles of trails and now its signature flow trail, Kuller thinks it can be a distinctive mountain bike destination.

“It’s the trail that will put us on the map,” he said. “We hope to be able to do more of this. Eventually we’d like to run lifts more often. But in order to do that, we need different lines coming off the top of the mountain. Now we have four.”

The Snow Bowl hasn’t advertised the new trail yet, as Anders worked to make certain it was clear of rocks and roots, and free of moisture. Today marks the last fall day that the chairlift will take riders to the top. After that, people can ride up or hike along the bigger T-bar.

The Camden Hills high school team had no trouble with that approach last week.

“We name the rides we do, riding from the school expedition style, out and back. I told them today would be ‘T-bar Tuesday.’ They love it,” said Casey Leonard, the coach.


Staff Writer Deirdre Fleming, 791-6452:

[email protected]

Twitter: Flemingpph


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