NEW ENGLAND CYCLING
Quiet back roads dotted with peaceful villages, views of mountains, lakes and ocean: New England is the perfect cycling destination. Throughout the states, abandoned railway lines are now cycle routes. There are also trails in conservation areas. Many of the larger New England ski resorts also offer mountain biking trails and rentals during the warmer months. So, choose your style and degree of difficulty; then watch for wildlife and enjoy terrific views along the way!
Connecticut’s countryside with its picturesque villages, farms, rivers and streams and many parks and forests, covers almost 90 percent of the state which can best be viewed on a bicycle. For help on routes, there’s the Connecticut Bicycle Map and the guide to mountain biking in state parks.
The many public trails in the state include Bluff Point State Park in Groton with its mixture of wooded hiking and biking trails along with spectacular wildlife viewing on Long Island Sound, and White Memorial Foundation in Litchfield with 25+ miles of gravel roads for mountain biking through the 4,000 acres of forests. In the Windsor Locks/Suffield area, along the Windsor Locks Canal bike an historic 4.5-mile trail used in the mid-1800s by horses and mules to tow boats along the canal offering scenic views of the Connecticut River and Windsor Locks Canal (weekends only). If you’re looking for guided bike tours, try the Connecticut Shoreline Bike/Boat Tour in Guilford, a leisurely three hour, 18-mile guided bike ride along the Connecticut shoreline combined with a 45-minute boat tour of the Thimble Islands (bike and helmets supplied). In the western part of the state in scenic Kent, the Bicycle Tour Company offers year-round bicycle rentals and cycling routes for all levels, plus self-guided tours, and custom trips.
Maine is great for cycling. For an easy ride, with lovely water views, take the Casco Bay Route. Part of the East Coast Greenway, this 35-mile (56km) segment links the Portland harborfront with the college town of Brunswick, taking in Freeport on the way.
In Acadia National Park, the carriage roads are well-known to cyclists; less traveled is the Schoodic Peninsula in the eastern part of the park. Take the 13-mile (20km) or the 29-mile (46km) loop; either way, spectacular views of this rocky coastline are guaranteed.
In Massachusetts, a wide variety of trails are on offer. Best known is the Cape Cod Rail Trail, a flat, easy 25 miles (40km) that links towns like Dennis, Brewster, Orleans, Eastham, and Chatham. Pedal through woods and past cranberry bogs; stop at beaches.
In western Massachusetts, the Ashuwillticook Rail Trail has views of Mount Greylock; this 11-mile (17km) route goes from Lanesborough to Adams. There are even rides close to Boston: the Nashua River Rail Trail, is a pleasant 11 miles (17 km) from Ayer through Groton and Pepperell to Dunstable.
Explore the beautiful New Hampshire countryside on a bike. Running east-west, the Rockingham Recreational Trail, Portsmouth Branch is a 25-mile (40km) run between Manchester, the state’s largest city, and the village of Newfields. Pass by Lake Massabesic and Raymond, with its renovated depot and locomotive. Or, take the easy 11 mile (18 km) Wolfeboro Recreational Trail (also known as the Cotton Valley Trail) for an easy jaunt with views of Lake Winnipesaukee. Particularly fun are the causeways across Lake Wentworth and Crescent Lake!
Nearby, in the Lake Sunapee Region, the Northern Rail Trail and Friends of the Northern Rail Trail (see top photo) offer a combined 43-mile (70km) converted railway bed with easy, flat biking through simple farm land, around lakes and river valleys, and past a winery and Shaker Museum.
America’s smallest state, Rhode Island, is ideal for easy riding. The longest and prettiest trail is the East Bay Bike Path, a 14-mile (22km) route. From Providence, it runs along the Providence River and Narragansett Bay, then cuts inland to Barrington and Warren. It ends in Bristol, a lovely small town, with the fascinating Herreshoff Marine Museum and America’s Cup Hall of Fame.
Vermont is famous for its mountains, but there are plenty of flat areas for easy pedaling. In the north of the state, the Missisquoi Valley Rail Trail is a 26-mile (42km) run. Start in St Albans, enjoy lovely scenery on the way and finish in Richford, with its views of Jay Peak ski resort. Or, cycle along the shore of Lake Champlain. The Burlington Waterfront Bikeway follows the former Rutland Railway for 7 miles (11km). Great views of the Adirondack Mountains across the lake in New York State!
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