State's first four-by-four course taking shapeBy JOHN KOZIOL
Union Leader Correspondent June 08. 2014 11:35PM
BERLIN — The only 4x4 off-road trail on state land in the Northeast is taking shape at Jericho Mountain State Park, with supporters hoping the all-volunteer effort will be completed by late summer.
Work on the 2.5-mile loop course began three weeks ago and is continuing on the weekends, said Marc Pouliot, president of the Milan-based North Woods Off Road club (NWOR).
Pouliot conceded that the work is a little more extensive and the slopes on the course a little steeper than first thought, but he remains confident the course could be completed sometime in August.
So far, he said, a quarter-mile of the course, whose trailhead will be located off the visitor center parking lot at Jericho Mountain, has been cut.
Pouliot, who is an automotive service advisor, founded the NWOR in 2007. The NWOR is part of the Northeast Association of 4-Wheel Drive Clubs, which promotes environmentally responsible off-roading on private land, and has 29 members from Long Island, N.Y., to Maine.
The inspiration for the 4x4 course at Jericho Mountain came when Pouliot and a friend realized there were few opportunities to operate their off-road trucks anywhere within the Granite State.
Unlike off-highway-recreational vehicles (OHRVs), which can use the 1,000 miles of interconnected trails within the Ride the Wilds system, 4x4s can only be driven on private land with the owner’s permission.
Working with the NH Bureau of Trails, Pouliot and his club proposed the 4x4 course at Jericho Mountain, a popular place for all types of motorized recreation.
Located off Route 110 west of downtown Berlin, Jericho Mountain State Park was created in 2005 by the state with the express goal of it becoming the first network of OHRV trails on state land. The Bureau of Trails also envisioned it as a place for a 4x4 trail.
In 2013, the New Hampshire Legislature authorized the Bureau of Trails to build 4x4 trails at Jericho Mountain and to evaluate their success for three years. At the end of that period, the trails — only one of which is being built — will either become permanent or be shut down.
Pouliot said the course will feature “off camber” slopes, where 4x4s will have to shimmy up vertical rocks and other challenges.
The course will be rated “easy to moderate,” he said, but there will also be some of what he called double-black diamond sections, similar to the most difficult trails on a ski slope.
Less adventurous drivers will be able to use one of several “go-arounds” to detour from the most difficult parts of the course. The entire experience, Pouliot noted, is geared to families. He expects trucks on the course won’t be able to travel “faster than a walk.”
He asked anyone interested in helping cut the trail at Jericho Mountain or to support the non-profit North Woods Off Road club to visit the club’s website at nwor4x4.org.