Vietnam Trail Network renowned throughout Northeast
Mountain biker Kevin Keenan tackling some rocks at the local trail network known as Vietnam. Courtesy photo by John Goeller
Non-profit purchased private land in 2003 to use for preservation, challenging trails
By Linda Chuss
The Vietnam trail network, with hundreds of acres in Milford, might be better known by people around the Northeast than by Milford residents. Mountain biking trails there stand out as being feature-laden for advanced technical challenges while also supporting all biking levels and other recreational uses.
The New England Mountain Bike Association (NEMBA) fostered Vietnam’s development and remains instrumental in proudly maintaining it. “People drive for hours to ride here,” said Kevin Keenan, Chair of the property’s Land Management Committee. “It’s on their bucket list. The lore is out there.”
Keenan explained how the trail network got its name.
“The name came from Vietnam vets. When they returned from the war, they would ride their dirt bikes in there. They would cut the brush down below handlebar height and the low brush reminded them of the forests in Vietnam.” Today, dirt bikes and most other motorized vehicles are not allowed at Vietnam. E-bikes are allowed at the Milford areas, including the land owned by NEMBA, but not on the Holliston and Hopkinton areas.
One of the many unique aspects of Vietnam is that a 46-acre strategic parcel “was the first piece of land bought by a non-profit mountain biking association,” Keenan said. “November 2023 was the 20-year anniversary of that purchase. Everyone pulled together to secure the resources so everyone can use it. We wanted it so we could provide challenging trails and protect the land.” The other landowners are the towns of Milford, Holliston, and Hopkinton, as well as businesses and private citizens.
Many people enjoy the trails for scenic walks, trail running, snowshoeing, cross-country skiing through the woods, and more moderate mountain biking.
“The north side trails on the Holliston and Hopkinton conservation land are not scary,” explained Keenan. “Everything in the network is walkable, you can go around anything gnarly you don’t want to try.”
For safety, NEMBA encourages bikers to pay attention to who is around them. The organization also promotes respect for the land and landowners. They maintain the trails and create new ones, holding volunteer-run workdays Sunday mornings in November and at other times throughout the year.
Trails are free for the public to use. Because the Vietnam network is extensive, getting lost is very possible. A good way to help prevent that is with an app like TrailForks. Alternatively, online maps can be downloaded to a cellphone or printed to take along. By going with someone familiar with the trails, newcomers will have a better experience.
One good place to start is at the New Trail, accessible from Adams Street in Holliston, just south of Marshall Street which has a parking lot at the trailhead. There are popular beginner loops of one to two miles or more, and much more difficult trails like “Burial Bypass” and “Do You Feel Lucky.”
NEMBA is comprised of 35 regional chapters, with Vietnam being part of the Blackstone Valley chapter. The chapter organizes group rides, workdays, and other events. They recently produced a thrilling video of the Vietnam experience: youtube.com/watch?v=sFTjecz8b10.
For more information, follow the chapter on Facebook (Blackstone Valley NEMBA Group) or Instagram (blackstone_valley_nemba), or visit the NEMBA website, nemba.org.