Central Massachusetts is home to a host of great places to ride a mountain bike and grab a pint, but few pair as well as a day on the trails at Callahan State Park followed by bellying up to the bar at Medusa Brewing. Both locations offer something for everyone, with everything from smooth fast trails to rugged rock gardens and super-strong imperial IPAs to Czech pilsners.

Credit: Tim Peck

The Biking

The mountain biking at Callahan State Park is commonly divided into two distinct zones—north and south—which are separated by Edmands Road. While it’s common to ride both sections on the same ride, they each offer their own unique flavor with the north side being notoriously rugged and less busy and the south side more beginner friendly and more heavily used.

The North Side

Rides on Callahan’s north side typically begin from a dirt parking lot off Broadmeadow Road in Marlborough. The riding on this side of the park is best defined as old-school technical and is better suited to more intermediate and advanced riders. It features an abundance of rocks and roots and delivers a substantial amount of climbing, which is sure to test your skills (and lungs), but is absent any freeride-type features like drops or bridges.

All of the trails from the Broadmeadow Road lot head up, so be prepared to begin climbing right away. The Backpacker Trail is a good option for getting started; it delivers a long yet moderate climb and rewards the effort with a chance to catch your breath on a spirited downhill. It also delivers you within close proximity to Beaver Bypass, one of Callahan’s newer trails, and one with a more modern feel—blending small technical segments with swoopy turns.

Beaver Bypass begins and ends near Beebe Pond, on the other side of which you’ll find the Red Tail Trail. In one direction, the Red Tail Trail is something of an anomaly for the north side of Callahan, as it buzzes down a ribbon of smooth singletrack through an open field. In the other direction, Red Tail provides one of the most challenging segments found in the park as it climbs through a tricky rock garden beneath Gibbs Mountain before descending a techy bench cut to Edmands Road, across which lies the reprieve of the south side’s more forgiving trails.

The South Side

The riding on Callahan’s south side is also quite good. Parking is available both on Edmands Road, near where the Red Tail Trail crosses it, as well as on Millwood Street in Framingham. It’s worth noting that the south side is extremely popular with dog owners—particularly around Eagle Pond, which is most easily accessed from Millwood Street—which means the parking lot is often busy.

The trails of the south side of Callahan weave through a picturesque pine forest. The trails themselves are relatively non-technical and fast, making them ideal for newer riders, those simply looking for a quick and easy spin, and those looking to add some easier mileage to rides on the north side. The trails on the south side of the park also see substantially more traffic—from other bikers to hikers to dog walkers—so stay aware of other users. As well, be on the lookout for signs for the Bay Circuit Trail, the 230-mile-long trail that weaves its way through Callahan on the path between Duxbury and Newburyport.

The Pipeline Trail is one of the area’s classic routes—after a short climb, it delivers a speedy double-track descent. Riding along the gravel on top of Earthen Dam is another must-ride and while it’s low on technical riding, it does deliver a unique experience and a great perspective of the park. Riders can add a little spice to the Earthen Dam Trail by joining it via the steep roll-in Ridge Bypass or by plummeting down Coco Ridge.

On the periphery of Callahan’s south side is the Hawk Trail, which is a great option for newer riders to test their abilities. It offers steep and sustained climbing with enough obstacles to keep seasoned riders engaged and is a great test for those with north-side aspirations.

Credit: Tim Peck

Medusa Brewing

Medusa Brewing on Main Street in Hudson is a fifteen-minute drive from Callahan’s Broadmeadow lot and, much like mountain biking at Callahan, it offers something for everyone.

The Brews

Riders who like to get rowdy, whether on Callahan’s north side trails or during the après, will want Medusa’s Lazer Cat Imperial IPA, which packs a punch at 8% ABV. Bikers who prefer the mellower trails of the south side or those who enjoy stacking up the mileage on its speedy trails will want to check out Lazer Kitten—an American IPA that’s a little more sippable, a bit lower in alcohol, and lends itself better to those looking to have more than one when compared to its grownup counterpart.

Of course, Medusa serves up more than IPAs. The brewery’s Stout Lad lends itself nicely to cold, chilly rides. Conversely, it’s hard to beat an ice-cold Olmos Mexican Lager following a sweltering summer ride at Callahan. Other favorites include Light Runner Hazy IPA (yes, another IPA) and Duchovni Pilsner. Medusa stocks hard seltzer for non-beer drinkers while non-drinkers are treated to a variety of non-alcoholic beers along with sodas and seltzers from Boylan Bottling.

The Food

If you need more than a drink after a ride at Callahan, Taco Gato has got you covered. Located inside Medusa Brewing, Taco Gato serves up everything from pub favorites like nachos, cheese boards, and wings to mouthwatering meals like tacos (on handmade tortillas!) and burgers. Our favorite is the brisket grilled cheese.

The Vibe

Medusa’s taproom has a nice, laid-back atmosphere that blends your classic brewpub with your local bar. Everyone is friendly and eager to ensure your visit is an enjoyable one. If you haven’t had your fill of outdoor fun after a day at Callahan, Medusa operates an outdoor beer garden in the summer, letting you soak in the fresh air and tasty brews.

Credit: Tim Peck