Top Motorcycle Roads in the Northeast
This is the third installment in a series describing top motorcycle roads in each state across America. These favorites are known to locals and sought out by sport touring riders. They often hide deep in forests, high on mountain passes, or wind through prairies and canyons. Undoubtedly each has a personality of its own.
This article searches for roads in the nine northeast states. Earlier articles recommend roads in the western states and midwestern states.
Sport Touring Roads
Once again, the roads described here were selected based on five qualities that every satisfying sport touring motorcycle road must have.
- No less than 25 miles – A good motorcycle road can’t tease; it has to run at least 25 miles to let riders connect with its rhythm and temperament.
- Sufficiently well paved – Spirited riding happens on good motorcycle roads, so it follows that the road itself must have decent pavement.
- Uncrowded – Riding, particularly sport touring, is about getting away from traffic to enjoy a lively combination of nature and machine. Traffic on a good motorcycle road allows plenty of room to ride.
- Curves a plenty – Bring on sweepers, wide corners, and technical sections in a frothy mix. After all, isn’t that the point?
- Scenic and historic – The scenery that surrounds a good motorcycle road adds character much like artwork in a favorite restaurant. It’s something to look at between bites.
Top Motorcycle Road in Each Northeast State
The northeast corner of the United States consists of the six New England states plus Massachusetts, New York, and New Jersey. The entire region, while relatively small, was instrumental in shaping the character and evolution of the country. It comes as no surprise then that riders encounter historic towns and landmarks amid natural beauty while touring these roads.
Our top picks capture the essence of sport touring in each state. The roads reflect unhurried country living.
Keep the weather in mind when planning a tour in this part of the country. Spring and mid-fall for the most comfortable weather. Not surprisingly, northern states experience cold winters that often linger into early spring. Likewise, fall comes around with little warning and brings cold days and slippery leaf covered roads. Summer temps are generally in the upper 70s to lower 80s but climb into the 90s inland away from the coast. Summer rain is always a risk as well. Check the regional weather forecast and prepare accordingly.
Maine – Rangely Lakes National Scenic Byway
Maine is the largest of the six New England states. With over 80 percent covered in forest and unclaimed land, riders will find plenty of unspoiled terrain to explore. The rugged coastline easily comes to mind, but Maine’s mountains are an equally popular destination. More than 700 peaks reach an elevation greater than 1000 feet. Mount Katahdin, the tallest, rises 5269 feet where it marks the northern terminus of the Appalachian Trail.
This ride explores the Rangely Lakes region and surrounding western mountains of Maine. The 111 mile ride starts in Madrid, follows the Rangely Lakes Scenic Byway, drops down to Mexico Maine, and finally ends in Upton on Umbagog Lake at the New Hampshire state line. Historic landmarks and vista points are scattered along the way including the Height of Land off ME-17 just north of the Appalachian Trail and the Andover Earth Station off ME-120 near East Andover.
Not surprisingly the best time to ride in Maine is late Spring through early Fall. Typical inland summer temperatures can reach into the 90s while coastal temps hover in the low 80s.
New Hampshire – The White Mountains
New Hampshire is known for stunning natural landscapes that broaden to the northwest from behind a narrow coastline sandwiched between Maine and Massachusetts. Riders pass lakes and ponds here and there in forests filled with eastern pine, spruce, and hemlock. The White Mountain region, part of the Appalachian Mountains, is a favorite destination surrounded by scenic byways.
This ride focuses on the area around the White Mountain National Forest. Start in Conway and follow the White Mountains Trail scenic byway (NH-112 also known as the Kancamagus Highway) westward toward Lincoln. Look for the Sabbaday Falls observation point and other overlooks along the way. Loop north and then east to Twin Mountain on US-302 which then becomes the Presidential Range Trail as it winds south back to Conway.
To explore more of the area, consider riding NH-16 and 16A north to Glen House and then to Summit Station near the 6288 foot peak of Mount Washington. Or take Base Station Road east from US-302 near Bretton Woods to the Mount Washington Cog Railway where this first-in-the-world cog railway ferries passengers to the summit.
Weather in New Hampshire for this 175 mile ride is ideal between late spring and early fall when temperatures average in the 80s.
Vermont – Green Mountain National Forest
Two things stand out about Vermont – maple syrup and cheese. And those maple trees and dairy farms are surrounded by lush forests and mountains waiting to be explored by sport touring riders. Like other parts of New England, the most comfortable time to ride in Vermont is between late spring and early fall when temperatures are reliably in the 70° to 80° range.
The Green Mountain National Forest is a favorite destination. Follow this meandering 101 mile loop around the national forest as it travels north from Readsboro near the Massachusetts state line to Searsburg on quiet and curvy VT-100 and VT-8. The road to Bennington, VT-9, climbs nearly 2250 feet to the Prospect Mountain Ski Area before descending to the junction with US-7 and US-7A. To the north past Manchester Center, take VT-30 south and then pick up Mountain Road and connect with VT-100 which then leads back to Readsboro completing the loop.
Make a stop in Bennington at the Robert Frost Stone House Museum where the American poet wrote many of the works found in his Pulitzer Prize winning composition New Hampshire. Later, dig into winding curves on VT-30 and Mountain Road through the forest over Stratton Mountain.
Massachusetts – The Berkshires
When it comes to American history, few states can compare with Massachusetts. Colonial landmarks abound in this state where defiant colonists started a rebellion that led to the American Revolution in 1775. The Berkshire Mountains in the west and the Appalachians to the east exemplify the state’s natural beauty.
The route we deemed best in the state winds north-south on MA-8 and MA-8A along the east edge of the Berkshire Mountains. Covering 93 miles, the ride stretches from the Vermont state line near H.O. Cook State Forest all the way south to Springfield near Connecticut. These roads are much less trafficked and far more entertaining than those in the more populated eastern part of the state.
Start on MA-8A heading south from the Vermont state line to begin an exciting ride on two-lane roads framed by forests and enlivened with mile after mile of turns – some generous sweepers, others more closely drawn. Small towns along the way offer a glimpse into rural New England communities and early American architecture. Views include nearby rivers and the Berkshires which add considerable elevation changes.
While MA-8 is our top pick, it’s worth noting that the Mohawk Trail, MA-2, crosses our route at Charlemont. Riders coming from the east, perhaps New York for example, may want to keep this in mind to accommodate a longer tour plan.
Rhode Island – Ride the Edges
Rhode Island is the smallest state of the United States, covering a compact 1214 square miles. Even so, we found a delightful road that delivers over 90 miles of interesting riding.
Start from Wickford on the shores of Narragansett Bay, and head south on 1A to take in small towns and sights along the coastline before turning west on Kingston Road toward Wakefield. This narrow and quiet road leading toward Wordens Pond and then Chalreston is enjoyable and marked with stretches of zig-zagging curves. But the most exciting part of this ride is on Klondike Road (RI-216) near Burlingame State Park. The road narrows pushing a forest of leafy green trees to either side as it follows rolling hills. Likewise, the stretch through Barberville and Arcadia is packed with great scenery and some nice curves. And finally, riding north on Rhode Island’s quiet two-lane state routes, including popular RI-102 and RI-94, into Glocester completes the ride with the best sections of each road.
Plan a ride in the summer months for the most enjoyable weather when daytime temperatures average in the upper 70s and low 80s. Days are cooler but still rideable in late spring and through mid-fall.
Connecticut – A West Side Ride
One of the three smallest states, Connecticut offers motorcyclists a variety of landscapes to explore on both mellow and challenging roads. The Connecticut River flows from Massachusetts south through the middle of the state before it empties into Long Island Sound. The rich valley on either side of the river is the most populated part of the state. Small towns spread out to the east and west among forests, farms, and lakes beyond.
The top sport touring road in Connecticut lies on the west side of the state near New York. Start this 100 mile ride in Danbury and head north on CT-37 and CT-39 to Gaylordsville. Views of Candlewood Lake are a highlight on this first part of the ride. From there, continue north on US-7. The highway loosely follows Housatonic River. Watch for the Bulls Covered Bridge just off the highway at Bulls Bridge Road. At the junction with CT-112, follow the signs to Salisbury and then take US-44 to North Canaan. The last stretch of the ride runs to the east passing above Winsted and through the Tunxis State Forest on CT-20. It then rounds the north end of the Barkhamsted Reservoir and heads down CT-179 toward New Hartford.
Summer weather in western Connecticut is typically warm, averaging in the mid-80s. Late spring and fall are cooler but comfortable for riding. Grab a heated liner and take this ride in October to enjoy fall colors.
New York – Lake Placid
New York is more than Time Square and Madison Avenue. Visitors will find the state has an abundance of mountains, rivers, lakes, and ocean coastline. So many that sport touring riders can ride a new and interesting road every day for years. The Finger Lakes Region south of Lake Ontario in the northwest is surrounded by good riding. Alternatively, the Hawk’s Nest section of NY-97 on the Delaware River in south New York is known for tight curves and cliffside riding. And many more great roads await in the Catskills, Adirondacks, and Appalachian Mountains.
But of all the possibilities, the top sport touring road in New York has to be the 163 mile route between North Hudson and Carthage through the Lake Placid region. This route covers three popular roads.
Start with US-9 and NY-73 through the Giant Mountain Wilderness area. This scenic area cuts through Adirondack Forest land, surrounded by rugged terrain and many scenic stops. Continue on NY-93 to the town of Jay further in the Adirondacks. Checkout the historic Jay Covered Bridge across the Ausable River before riding westward on NY-86 to Lake Placid which twice hosted the Winter Olympics (1932 and most recently in 1980). NY-86 gently rolls through the Sentinel Range Wilderness area winding along with the Ausable River on one side. There are several scenic vista points. High Falls Gorge, a private park, is a popular stop where visitors can take a short river walk past four waterfalls.
Continue on NY-86 to Saranac Lake and then take NY-3 to Tupper Lake and Carthage where the ride comes to an end on the Black River. The roadway is constantly turning but leaves riders with plenty of time to relax and enjoy the scenery. Plan this ride in the summer months for warm days in the upper 70s to lower 80s.
Pennsylvania – Game Land Loop
Riding in Pennsylvania is among the best in the northeast. Some time ago we published Popular Motorcycle Roads in Northern Pennsylvania and those roads remain among the best. While it’s hard to find better riding than in the Allegheny National Forest, we have another route that is particularly good and loops around state game land south of the Tuscarora State Forest in the Appalachians.
This 48 mile loop connects Shade Gap, Pleasant Hall, and the village of Burnt Cabins at the foot of Tuscarora Mountain. The entire route consists of quiet two-laners with elevation changes that stretch through remote twisties separated by farm and ranch land. The east-west route on PA-641 is packed with tight corners and a good number of hairpins. The southside east-west run along PA-533 is just as much fun. Don’t miss the scenic overlooks on these roads.
Pay attention to weather forecasts when planning a ride in Pennsylvania. Summer is the wettest season with regular thunderstorms.
New jersey – High Point Loop
With over 120 miles of Atlantic Ocean coastline, beaches like Atlantic City and Ocean City make New Jersey a popular seaside recreation destination. Sport touring riders, however, will find inland roads much more exciting. The southern half of the state framed by the Delaware River and the Atlantic Ocean holds some entertaining rides, for example, a loop around Wharton State Forest in the lower east corner of the state.
For the very best riding roads in New Jersey look to the Skylands Region. In addition to good motorcycle roads, this northwest part of New Jersey features popular destinations like High Point State Park, the High Point Monument, and views of the Pocono Mountains, the Catskills, and the Wallkill River Valley. On top of that, the Appalachian Trail and the less well-known Monument Trail intersect here.
Begin this 36 mile ride in Sussex New Jersey, a small township located near the Wallkill River National Wildlife Refuge. Head out of town to the northwest on NJ-23, and then turn west on County Road 650, also called the Deckertown Turnpike. This stretch of road is filled with meandering curves through ranch land and Stokes State Forest where the highway crosses the Appalachian Trail.
Turn north on Clove Road (County Road 653) at Montague where the landscape opens to farm and ranch land leading to the junction with NJ-23. This last segment of the ride on NJ-23 travels through High Point State Park. Watch for the sign pointing to High Point Monument. This worthwhile short detour leads to the very best territorial views including views of the nearby mountains. Follow NJ-23 southeast to Sussex to complete the ride.
Discover the Historic Northeast States
Motorcycling in the northeast states is a rich experience steeped in American history and culture. Sport touring riders can expect to take in historic sites, striking mountains, rivers, and valleys all while enjoying the best roads the region has to offer.
This list of top roads provides a great start to plan your next adventure.
Photos in this article not otherwise attributed are used under the Creative Commons License.
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