It is by riding a bicycle that you learn the contours of a country best.
Here in New England, we still have several weeks in which to inhale the great outdoors, not to mention the lush tapestry of fall. A fabulous way to take that all in is perched atop two wheels on a bicycle, away from the beaten paths. No traffic along these four roads less taken. Whether you favor a road bike, a mountain bike or training wheels, these north, south, east and west options offer just the ride for you. Come January when we are sealed up tight indoors, seasonal outings such as these have a way of pulsing on in our consciousness, shepherding us forward until the cycle begins again…
The 28 mile Walpole to Dover loop begins in downtown Walpole and winds through the quiet countryside, eventually alongside Rocky Narrows Reservation in Sherborn. There, you’ll enjoy some gorgeous views of the Charles River. The ride continues on through historic Dover and then loops back to Walpole finishing a complete circle around Medfield.
Groton is a quintessential New England town not to be missed in autumn especially. The Nashua River Trail has you pedaling right through this hamlet which is accessed easily by route 495. The trail is a former railroad right of way that travels eleven miles through the towns of Ayer, Groton, Pepperell and Dunstable. It offers a ten-foot wide paved surface for the entire length, and a five-foot wide gravel equestrian path for seven miles of the trail from Groton Center to the New Hampshire border in Dunstable. The Nashua River Rail Trail travels along a varied landscape, offers numerous scenic overlooks, opportunities to see wildlife and has several resting stops. The entire trail is open to pedestrians, bicyclists, inline skaters, wheelchairs, and cross-country skiers. Commuter rail service (between Boston and Fitchburg) can be accessed at the Ayer trailhead.
In Topsfield, the Committee behind the town’s Rail Trail set out to create a “linear common”- a place for people to meet and greet one another while enjoying the great outdoors. Since 1955, along the course of the former Danvers-Newburyport Rail Line, the Topsfield Rail Trail Committee has slowly inched its way north to Boxford offering 3.9 miles of highly compacted stone dust. The surface is suitable for all activities except roller blades and other small wheeled devices. Perfect for a family ride or for alternate transportation to the Topsfield Fair along which it runs!
If you prefer your tires fatter and your trails a bit more unpredictable, grab your mountain bike and head south of the city to Rocky Woods in Taunton. There, visitors will find over 30 miles of tight, twisty fairly technical single track- more than one could ever cover in one day. Given the lack of rain this past summer, riders should not have to be too concerned with mud – challenge at Rocky Woods in springtime. From Taunton Center, head west on route 44 towards the trailhead. Rocky Woods is also home to some good rock climbing.
“It is by riding a bicycle that you learn the contours of a country best”, once counseled Ernest Hemingway. Visit Bike New England or the New England Mountain Bike Association for suggested rides throughout Massachusetts, New Hampshire, Maine, Vermont, Connecticut and Rhode Island.