Biking through New England
May 25, 2010 7:04 PM   Subscribe

We're biking south along the Connecticut River from Orwell VT to New Haven CT in two days (give or take some east west variation). What should we see or do along the way?

We have plans to stop in Northampton, but that's pretty much it so far. Excited about state campgrounds, cheese production facilities, and relatively flat scenic biking - though, having already made the trip TO Orwell (from Boston) hills are not a big issue. Ideas? We're thinking more in the realm of shoestring diners than beds and breakfast, so, budget-minded is best....

We took Route 30 to get here and it was great. If there are similarly awesome routes in Western Mass to follow, please recommend!
posted by puckish to Travel & Transportation (10 answers total) 4 users marked this as a favorite
Putney Diner should be on your way and is delicious. Bellows Falls has the Miss Bellows Falls diner (warning: sound) which I know nothing about but if it's in the "Miss ________ Diner" tradition in this area, it will be great. Mount Tom state reservation has camping, but I'm not sure where it is relative to where you'll be riding. Skinner State Park is worth a looksee, interesting place. I assume you'll be taking the norwottuck rail trail for part of that, it's easily the best way to get between Amherst [worth a stop in its own right] and Noho. Can't help you once you leave MA, though I enjoyed Springfield's Indian Motorcycle Museum I think it's off your trajectory.
posted by jessamyn at 7:16 PM on May 25, 2010 [1 favorite]

Darn, I came in to suggest Northampton! How about a stop in Easthampton if you're in need of the Best Ice Cream Ever. Ignore anyone who says it's Herrell's in Northampton. It's Mt. Tom's in Easthampton. True Fact. Worth the extra few miles of biking, plus Easthampton has a lovely little pond and (if you tire of the flatness) you can trek on a little further to visit Mt. Tom State Reservation.

Also, before hitting Northampton, how about stopping in Shelburne Falls, MA to see the glacial potholes and the bridge of flowers. Super scenic!
posted by dayintoday at 7:19 PM on May 25, 2010

Try Mt. Higby in Middlefield, CT. Off 66 is a trail that only takes about 15-20 minutes to walk (it may be too steep to bike) and has an amazing view of the surrounding towns. There's a beautiful reservoir nearby as well.
posted by null terminated at 7:22 PM on May 25, 2010

Stop by Hungry Ghost Bread in Northampton if you want some terrific baked goods. Also, if you take Rte. 5 when passing through Holyoke, the Dinosaur Footprints reservation (map) along the banks of the Connecticut is worth a visit—it's right off the side of the road and free to visit.
posted by cirripede at 8:08 PM on May 25, 2010 [1 favorite]

Seconding Mt. Tom's in Easthampton for ice cream! The Miss Florence Diner in Florence (on west side of Northampton) is less than a block from the Northampton Bikeway. I've eaten there once and it was classic diner food.

If you go through West Springfield, look for the White Hut on Memorial Ave. There's no menu or prices listed but they serve burgers, hot dogs, fries and breakfast.
posted by plastic_animals at 8:30 PM on May 25, 2010

Once you're into the home stretch in Connecticut, stop at O'Rourke's Diner on Main Street in Middletown, just a few blocks from the river (breakfast and lunch only). It's been a favorite of generations of Wesleyan students, and is actually damn fine food.
posted by harkin banks at 9:21 PM on May 25, 2010

O'Rourke's: not cheap, but worth it. Just be aware if you cannot afford $10-15 breakfast at a diner. Main St. in Middletown, where O'Rourke's is located, is a great place for food for any meal of the day, all sorts of ethnic foods and little shops to investigate. It's Only Natural, Clock Tower shops, Typhoon, Fiore's II, the Fruitery... these are some of my favorites, see Yelp for specific recommendations.

Another recommendation is Lyman Orchards in Middlefield area, they have pick your own fruits and a wonderful little country store on a swan-covered pond that sells delicious locally made ciders, dips, jellies, all sorts of tastiness. It's a bit off the beaten path but only minutes from the hike on Mt. Higby that has been recommended here.

Also, if you bike south from Middletown on Route 17 it might be a pretty way to go, taking you through some of the beautiful areas in southern CT, or a more lengthy but even more scenic route would be to take 154 along the CT River then head west on Route 80/79 towards New Haven. You will enjoy it!
posted by treehorn+bunny at 6:36 AM on May 26, 2010

I also recommend Shelburne Falls and the Bridge of Flowers. It's such a lovely little town, and definitely worth a stop!

I live on part of the Franklin County Bikeway, which goes throughout the northern part of the CT River valley. That website has maps that show the different routes. Biking is extremely popular around here, from what I can tell. There is a lot of beautiful farmland to bike through, and lots of "Pick Your Own" farms. One popular spot for bikers to stop is the Montague Bookmill. It's a used bookshop in an old mill. There is also a cafe and a nice restaurant in the same complex.

It would be a nice route to take the left side of the red route on this map (PDF link) then switch over to River Road/Route 47. That is nice and quiet, with good shoulders and not a lot of traffic. And it's beautiful! Route 47 will take you to the historic Hadley Town Common, where you can hook up with the Norwottuck Rail trail that goes into Northampton and also go to Sofia's Praises polish cafe.

That route bypasses Amherst, which I think is worth a stop depending on how much time you have. You could just go west on the Rail Trail instead of east, and then head back over to Northampton after seeing Amherst.

Once you're in NoHo Local Burger is a great place to eat.
posted by apricot at 8:31 AM on May 26, 2010

I linked to the back of the map above! Here is the front of it.
posted by apricot at 8:55 AM on May 26, 2010

Response by poster: Wonderful, thanks everyone!
posted by puckish at 4:25 AM on June 12, 2010

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