New England is one of the most tranquil, beatific regions in the United States, offering everything from calm seaside vistas to hallowed grounds of history. One of the best ways to take in as much of New England’s beauty as possible is from the seat of a bicycle, and these six trails are among the most rewarding.
Minuteman Commuter Bikeway (Massachusetts)
Cruising along the Minuteman Commuter Bikeway is an exercise in time travel. America’s Revolutionary Rail Trail is set upon an out-of-commission railroad right of way and extends through four areas: Lexington, Bedford, Cambridge and Arlington. As you pedal along this 10-mile path, you’ll traverse several points of interest with great historical significance. This includes Lexington Center, known as the Birthplace of American Liberty; the Hancock Clark House, where Paul Revere and William Dawes warned Samuel Adams and John Hancock that the British were coming; and Old Schwamb Mill, the oldest still-functioning mill in the United States.
Blackstone River Bikeway (Rhode Island)
The Blackstone River Bikeway covers 16.5 miles, including 11.6 miles of continuous trail stretching from Cumberland to Woonsocket and 4.7 miles of trail between Pawtucket and Providence. It tends to follow the Blackstone River for much of its length, offering up views of everything from marshes and waterfalls to the Blackstone Canal and Pratt Dann. Perhaps the most interesting part of the ride is the former Lonsdale Drive-In, which is now a restored wetland but still boasts the restored drive-in theater’s sign.
Island Line River Trail (Vermont)
One of just 31 inductees to the Rail-Trail Hall of Fame, Island Line River Trail covers 14 miles, encompassing the Burlington Bike Path and Colchester Causeway. The trail is between easy and moderate difficulty, making it ideal for beginners and young cyclists as well as experienced riders looking for a scenic trip. Island Line River Trail traverses three towns and two counties, providing breathtaking views of Lake Champlain and the Green Mountains along the way. For a pleasant conclusion to your day’s ride, grab the bike ferry across the 200-foot cut in the causeway between South Hero and Burlington.
Nashua River Rail Trail (Massachusetts and New Hampshire)
Running through Ayer, Groton, Dunstable and Pepperell in Massachusetts and reaching into Nashua, New Hampshire, the Nashua River Rail Trail will have you pedaling through the serenity of nature for approximately 12.3 miles. Approximately two miles into your journey, be on the lookout for wildlife at the Groton School Pond; if you’re lucky, you might spy beavers hard at work. Access to the J. Harry Rich State Forest and the rolling Nashua River is located at the midpoint of the trail.
East Coast Greenway (Maine)
If you’re ready to embark on an adventure, set your sights on the East Coast Greenway. Not only will this trail marvel expose you to the breathtaking natural beauty of Maine (it starts in Calais), it will transport you through 450 cities located in 15 states. All in all, the East Coast Greenway spans 3,000 miles, reaching all the way to Florida, and is designed for people who love to travel by bike or on foot. The section in Maine features the Sunrise Trail, which meanders through the Moosehorn National Wildlife Refuge and spans 87 miles, making it “the longest continuous stretch of the Greenway to date.”
Windsor Locks Canal State Park Trail (Connecticut)
The Windsor Locks Canal State Park Trail covers 4.5 miles along the towpath that once was used to haul barges along the waterway. While beats of burden are not commonly found on the trail today, it has become a popular path for bikers looking to take in picturesque views of both the Windsor Locks Canal and the Connecticut River. If you’re a fan of classic literature, the fact that Charles Dickens once passed through the canal makes the Windsor Locks Canal State Park Trail all the more a must-visit.
There is much to do and see in the New England region, and so much of it can be viewed from atop the seat of a bicycle. By riding these and other trails throughout New England, you can both take in the sights and sounds of one of the country’s most beautiful locales and get a great deal of good exercise in the process.
This article is presented by Jannell Ford in Hanover, Massachusetts.