Ride the Wilds
ATV season hailed a success
By DEBRA THORNBLAD
Special to the Union Leader | November 11. 2013 9:47PM
The city of Berlin, town of Gorham and 12 other communities, as well as some unincorporated places, all had some roads open. The combination of state and town roads and trails through wooded areas allowed ATV riders to go from Gorham all the way to Pittsburg along the Ride the Wilds trail.
In Berlin, the Jericho ATV festival celebrated its fourth year. As the Ride the Wilds trail runs right through the city, people there are used to seeing ATVs and snowmobiles in the winter. This year things expanded to include closing the downtown to all but ATVs for a few hours during the festival. ATVs were allowed to ride to the three important events at the city's Northern Forest Heritage Park.
Berlin has traditionally had a manufacturing economy, but things are changing.
The Ride the Wilds trailhead is located off Route 2 in Gorham. Many of those who come up to ride stay in motels along Route 16, the town's Main Street. With the opening of Main Street, they were able to drive right from their motels to the trail.
"I did have some hesitation, but it went better than I thought it would," he said. "For the most part, ATVers were very thoughtful and considerate."
"Those I talked to said the ATVers were very considerate and always gave them the right-of-way," he said. "ATVers were very complimentary about the town, about the welcome they received, and they loved the fact that they could ride their ATVs from their motel to the trailhead."
Many weekends, there were no rooms available in the local motels. Restaurants saw an uptick in their business, he said.
"The town seems to have accepted it with open arms," Gorham Police Chief PJ Cyr said. "It's brought another aspect of tourism to the town and boosted the local economy."
Gamache acknowledged that concern, but said there are no plans at present to change that,
Berlin and Gorham officials are working together to create a permit that would be good in both towns.
A difference in hours of operation became a problem during the ATV festival. Berlin allowed ATVs to be on the road until 10 p.m.; in Gorham, the limit was one-half hour after sunset. This left some ATVers in Gorham in the situation of being illegally on the road when trying to get back to their motels.
Gamache said meetings are planned over the winter between the state, law enforcement and Fish and Game to address any outstanding issues.