Beginner’s Guide

New to Lift-Accessed Mountain Biking?

Let our trained coaches set you up for fun and success! Coaches will help build a solid foundation of riding skills where you can progress to the next level. From beginners to seasoned pros, Highland is all about training and trails. To help you make the most of your first visit we’ve answered some of the common questions we receive from riders.

New to Lift-Accessed Mountain Biking Frequently Asked Questions:

What program should I start with?

If you are new to downhill mountain biking the Find Your Ride™ program is the best way to enter into the sport. The Find Your Ride™ program includes:

  • One full-day lift pass
  • One-hour Park Ready™ session
  • One full-day Park Ready™ bike rental. Kids bikes are also available. 
  • Full-face helmet and safety equipment

You may also consider our Find Your Ride™ 3-Pack.  For just $359, you’ll gain confidence and experience over three all-inclusive Find Your Ride™ visits.

What Do I Ride Down?
If you choose our Find Your Ride lesson package, we will start you in our “Park ready” zone. In this area, we will teach you the skills needed to enjoy your downhill mountain biking experience. From there, we show you how to load the lift, and then we bring you down our beginner trail, named “Freedom Trail”. This trail is 1.8 miles long with an average grade of 5.9%. You can check it out below.

What should I wear?
We recommend comfortable clothes, as if you were going for a hike, along with athletic shoes and socks. For protection, we rent full-face helmets, knee/shin pads, and elbow pads. If you would like riding gloves or goggles please bring them with you, or you can buy them in the bike shop if you wish. If it is raining, bring a rain jacket and a change of clothes.
What do I need to bring?
You will need to bring your ID so that we can verify your waiver when you arrive in the Welcome Center. Please have a credit card available if you are  participating in the Find Your Ride™ program or renting a bike. Come dressed ready to ride! (See “What Should I Wear?” for tips on what to wear to the mountain.)
Can I ride my own bike or do I need to rent?
A front-suspension mountain bike with front and rear disc brakes will allow you to ride most of our easier terrain, however we recommend a full-suspension, freeride-specific bike to maximize your riding and have the best possible experience. If you do not have a bike, the Highland Demo Center has you covered with a fleet of bikes ideal for learning to ride downhill.
What do I do when I arrive at Highland?
Once you’ve parked your car, head to the Welcome Center located to the right of the main lodge. This is where your journey begins!  If you are participating in the Find Your Ride program, check in at the Find Your Ride desk on your right. If you’ve just reserved a day pass, you can check in at the main counter. Please make sure you have your ID with you: we will need it to verify your waiver. You will be issued a wristband which serves as your pass for the day. Once you have your wristband, Welcome Center staff will direct you to your next stop depending on your needs or reservations. (Lessons, rental bikes, rental equipment, etc.)
How do I get my bike to the top of the mountain?
The thrill of riding Highland is our gravity-fed trails. You use the lift to get you and your bike to the top of the mountain. Our lift is similar to what you would see at a ski resort, only half of the chairs have been customized to carry up to three bikes at a time. You load your bike into the carrier then take a seat on the next chair. At the summit, lift attendants will unload your bike and have it waiting on the rack for you.

If you’re participating in the Find Your Ride program, our coaches will walk you through the process of loading your bike for the first time. Even if you’re not doing the Find Your Ride, we’re still here to help you! To the right of the lift, you’ll find a stationary bike carrier you can use to practice lifting your bike into the tray. When it comes time to load onto the actual lift, don’t be afraid to ask our lift attendants for assistance.

Can I ride clipless pedals?
A lot of riders feel more comfortable learning on flat pedals, but it is all personal preference. If you are more comfortable on clipless it is acceptable. Be sure to bring your own pedals and shoes.
What happens if it rains?
We always continue riding, lessons, and camp programs rain or shine. Riding in the rain is its own kind of fun!

If we experience thunder and/or lightning, New Hampshire state law requires that we close the lift for 30 minutes after the most recent occurrence.

Is downhill mountain biking dangerous?

Any sport can be dangerous, it all depends on how much risk you take. Having a safe and fun experience requires taking the proper steps to learn in a safe way as well as having the right equipment. We recommend starting with the Find Your Ride™ program. Our trained coaches can give you a foundation of skills to ensure that you have all the right equipment. We recommend familiarizing yourself with PARK SMART. This is the best way to understand signage around the mountain. Understanding PARK SMART will help in learning the proper steps to ride downhill.

What trails are the best to start on?

Our easiest beginner trail is Freedom Trail. Other green trails include Easy Rider, Meadow’s End, Cat Scratch Fever.