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Route through Vermont, New Hampshire, and/or Maine

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Route through Vermont, New Hampshire, and/or Maine

Old 07-23-10, 08:57 AM
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Route through Vermont, New Hampshire, and/or Maine

I'm trying to plan a route through New England for a month-long tour in September.

I live in San Francisco, have never been to any of these areas, and have no specific knowledge of good routes, places to avoid, and things to see/do.

My tour will start in Lambertville, NJ and end in Boston. My current plan is to ride the ACA Atlantic Coast trail up to Poughkeepsie, NY Bike Route 5 up the Hudson to Albany, NY Bike Route 9 along the Erie Canal to near Lake Oneida and then north to NY Route 3 (near Watertown) and then through the Adirondacks over to Lake Champlain.

What I have no clue about is how to get from Lake Champlain over to Boston. The options I see are these:

1) Ride to Vermont Route 100, down to the Green Mountains, turn east, ride to New Hampshire's White Mountains and then, depending on time, either down to Boston or over to Maine and then down to Boston.

2) Ride across the top of Vermont over to the New Hampshire Border and then down the Connecticut River (border) using New Hampshire Biking Maps (here) and then ride around the lakes south of the White Mountains and the White Mountains, as well, and then, depending on time either down to Boston or over to Maine and then down to Boston

3) Ride a more direct route to the White Mountains, ride around them, head over and explore Maine in a kind of loop and then head down to Boston via the ACA Atlantic Coast route.

4) Ride down to and around the Green Mountains and continue down through Massachusetts to Connecticut and then turn east aiming for Cape Cod and then up to Boston.

I'm sure there are lots of other options that I am unaware of but would like to hear about.

I have to be in Boston October 3.

I'd greatly appreciate any and all comments about the plans.

Thanks,

Ray

P.S. I've posted this in several bike touring forums.
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Old 07-23-10, 11:15 AM
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Damn! You must love climbing.
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Old 07-23-10, 02:09 PM
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In order to best help you, we need to know what your criteria are: time, fewest hills, scenery, traffic?? What are your goals for this trip?

Since you live in San Francisco and have seen tons of spectacular scenery, you should try to find what is really characterstic of New England.

Are you sure you want to start in New Jersey and go to Albany and then along the Eirie Canal? You will have put in several hundred IMHP not attractive miles before you even get to New England.

You need to decide where to cross Lake Champlain. Be aware that the Chimney Point Bridge has been demolished. The upper half of the lake is much more attractive than the lower half, in my opinion.

Then you need to choose a northern or southern route across Vermont. The center of Vermont is so steep even my car can't stand it. Really.

Anyway, here's a possible route that attempts to avoid steep terrain and passes through good scenery. It starts in Watertown only because you mentioned that town.

The route below doesn't follow route 3 to Tupper Lake because I'm not aware of anything really interesting up there. Sort of a desolate area; could be hard to get provisions. This route avoids the southern end of Lake Champlain. Note however that Middlebury Vt. is a beautiful biking area. If you get to Middlebury, route 7 up to Burlington is an easy ride.

NEW YORK STATE
1. Route 12 to Lowville and Port Leyden.
2. Moose River Road to Route 28. Passes along Independence River, quite nice.
3. Route 28 to Blue Mountain Lake. Old Forge is an interesting town. Rt 28 goes along several lakes. There is good primitive camping in the area---ask local folks.
4. Route 30 to Tupper Lake and Saranac Lake. Good primitive camping on Floodwood Road before Saranac Lake.
7. Route 73 to Lake Placid. You can get provisions there, but otherwise Lake Placid is now an ugly tourist town.
5. Route 86 to Jay
6. 9N to Port Kent.

VERMONT
I don't know Vermont in detail so maybe others can help you here.
1. Take the ferry across Lake Champlain to Burlington, a very nice little city.
2. Route 2 to Montpelier. My recollection is that route 2 follows a river and is fairly easy. Can anyone confirm that?

NEW HAMPSHIRE
The Lakes Region is quite built up and there is a lot of traffic. Following is the more scenic northern route.

1. Route 18 to Littleton, NH. Stock up on food. If you have extra time, go south through Franconia Notch (bike path) and then turn north again on route 3 to Twin Mountain. Otherwise take 302 from Littleton to Bethlehem.
2. Route 302 to Twin Mountain (good National Forest Campground at Sugarloaf). If you're inclined, you can take the train to the top of Mt. Washington from there. Stop in at the beautiful Bretton Woods Hotel and spend some time sitting in the lobby, with view of Mt. Washington.
3. Get ready for an uphill climb but great scenery. 302 flattens out nicely in Bartlett.
4. In Glen NH take route 16 south. Stop at Diana's Bath for a swim and rest.
5. After leaving Diana's Bath, look for River Road on the right. It will avoid some of the route 16 traffic in North Conway (unless you want to see another touristified town or need supplies. There is a bike shop there.).

MAINE
1. Route 302 to Fryeburg, Maine. Stop at tourist information center for maps and advice on the next leg of you're route.
2. Head straight across Maine to the Midcoast area: Brunswick, Bath, Boothbay Harbor. I can't recommend a route across from Fryeburg, except to avoid Sebago Lake---very built up, lots of traffic. When you get to the coast there will be a lot to see, but you will have to choose a couple of highlights because you will find yourself riding down very long peninsulas to get to them. I suggest going to Damariscotta and then to Boothbay Harbor and Pemaquid Point---the quinessential Maine trip. Acadia National Park would be nice but it's a long ride up there.
3. Time to head south. Follow route 1. Stop at LL Bean in Freeport. You will pass through Portland, which is worth visiting. No need to avoid it in my opinion---it's a nice small city with bike paths.
4. Cape Elizabeth would make a nice side trip.
5. Take whatever road is closest to the water to Old Orchard Beach, Kennebunk, Wells, and Ogunquit. Nice lighthouse in York.
6. Stop at Kittery Trading Post.

NEW HAMPSHIRE AGAIN
OK, I'm outta time. Just follow the coast to Boston. Take route 1A, not 1 very heavy traffic on 1).

MASSACHUSETTS
Take the coastal route through Newburyport, Rockport, Gloucester, Berly, Salem, Marblehead, and Swampscott. Consider taking the train from Swampscott right into the center of Boston, if the train accepts bikes.

Cape Cod? Worth it, yes. Also Martha's Vineyard.
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Old 07-23-10, 02:48 PM
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Some comments. From Portland ME, look up the East Coast Greenway, nice roads and bike paths. I think it goes all the way to Wells ME. Get some rubel bike maps for MA. Really helpful for my last trip.
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Old 07-23-10, 04:17 PM
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Thanks for taking the time to provide such good ideas! I'll check them out.

Originally Posted by GetUpnGo
In order to best help you, we need to know what your criteria are: time, fewest hills, scenery, traffic?? What are your goals for this trip?
Time is not an issue so long as I end up in Boston on October 3.

While I don't seek out hills, I'm not afraid of them, either. I prefer pretty natural scenery so as long as the hills lead to somewhere pretty, I'll do them.

As for traffic, the less the better but I don't mind riding on two lane, shoulderless road as long as the traffic is light.

Since you live in San Francisco and have seen tons of spectacular scenery, you should try to find what is really characterstic of New England.
I couldn't agree more.

Are you sure you want to start in New Jersey and go to Albany and then along the Eirie Canal? You will have put in several hundred IMHP not attractive miles before you even get to New England.
I need to start in Lambertville because I am flying there for a family event and left a bunch of gear there that I need to start the trip with. I could start elsewhere but why not simply get on my bike and ride. Further, since Lambertville is on the ACA Atlantic Coast trail, it is easy to get good maps from there.

You need to decide where to cross Lake Champlain. Be aware that the Chimney Point Bridge has been demolished. The upper half of the lake is much more attractive than the lower half, in my opinion.
I was thinking about riding over the top of Lake Champlain since 3 goes all the way to Plattsburg and it looked pretty flat from there north on the west side of the lake. If, instead, I go to Ticonderoga, then the west side of the Lake looks quite lumpy (which is what I've heard).

I don't really need to spend much time around Lake Champlain, as my wife and I will be spending 5 days in Burlington, VT at the conclusion of this bike trip (the reason I have to be in Boston on October 3).

Then you need to choose a northern or southern route across Vermont. The center of Vermont is so steep even my car can't stand it. Really.
This is invaluable information. Thanks!

I'll check into this further and post further.

I figure I can do 1000 miles in the month.

Ray
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Old 07-23-10, 07:30 PM
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hi raybo

from Lake Champlain you can follow the Adventure Cycling Association's Green Mountain Loop which will take you from Burlington to southern VT crossing into NH at Piermont. I live in NH and Piermont is very rural country. You can use Google bike directions to map yourself a route from Piermont down through southern NH which if you stay west of Manchester and Nashua are all backroads through small rural towns and make for nice riding. I would cross over into Massachusetts somewhere around Hollis NH which will put you in Mass right around the Pepperll/Groton area. Very nice riding there, rolling terrain and nice upscale towns w/ great scenery. Keep moving east from there towards Boston going through Concord, MA (also great riding there) and when you get to Lexington (right next to Concord MA) hop on the Minuteman trail which is a paved bike/ped pathway that goes right into Cambridge and intersects the Esplanade which is the bike/ped path around the Charles Rivier in Boston and Cambridge.
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Old 07-23-10, 08:26 PM
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First, while the Crown Point bridge was torn down, the state is running a free ferry at thT location. So thercare ferries at Ti, crown Point, Charlotte, Burlinton, plattsburg and the bridge at the north end. Lots of options.

As far as passing from west to east thru Vermont, take it from a Vermonter that you are going over the mountains, no way to avoid it. The lowest gap is Bolton gap which Interstate 89/rt 2 use to pass thru between Burlinton and Waterbury. If you use that pass, there is a beautiful 2 lane road called the Duxbury Rd. On any evening you will find numerous cyclist (including myself) riding that road.

To truely enjoy Vermont you have to ride the hills and ride the dirt roads. Also, when you are in Burlington, be sure to stop in an see the cycle shop - Old Spoke Home. Great people there

If you need a place to stay PM me, I'm 15 miles east of Burlington, right at the focal point of greatriding in Richmond.
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Old 07-23-10, 08:51 PM
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What is it like to cross Vermont in the north?

On idea is something like this (just picked off Google Maps as an example): Cross Lake Champlain in the north on highway 78. Take 78 east past Highgate Center and take a local road to Highway 120 around Lake Carmi. Take 118 down to East Berkshire and then 105 all the way to the border.

Ray
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Old 07-24-10, 04:38 AM
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raybo-
IMHO - your option #2 is better for crossing VT. Follow the ACA Green Mountain route to about Newport [if you have a passport, suggest taking the "Quebec alternate" route around the Jay peak area - The ride over Jay is a nice one, great views at the top & 8 km of climbing to get there] then Newport & Derby stay on rt 105 east toward Island Pond [ you can follow the ACA route to Island Pond - but the first 10 km is hilly- very nice ride from Morgan to Island pon] and continue east to the CT river. Go south along the river, pick up the brewery
ride route in southern VT and follow it into boston. You can also split between the white mtns in several places,
littleton or laconia areas are probably the least hilly.
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Old 07-24-10, 05:11 AM
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Originally Posted by GetUpnGo
7. Route 73 to Lake Placid. You can get provisions there, but otherwise Lake Placid is now an ugly tourist town.
Jeez, that's a little harsh. Touristy? Sure. Ugly? I can't see that... Compared to what? Is Vegas your idea of a pretty town?
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Old 07-24-10, 06:36 AM
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Originally Posted by Thulsadoom
Jeez, that's a little harsh. Touristy? Sure. Ugly? I can't see that... Compared to what? Is Vegas your idea of a pretty town?
Compared to the pre-Olympics Lake Placid. Maybe before your time? :-))
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Old 07-24-10, 09:57 AM
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My 2 cents...

Sept can sometimes be cold and rainy. Have some winter weight base layer stuff, booties and a darn good rain jacket.

I stay off the heavily travelled roads when I can, like 302, for example.

Next.... how about renting a van and driving to Albany. Then ride to Fort Ticonderoga. The fort is
worth visiting.

Then ride up to Burlington, if I did it again, I'd stay as close to the lake as I could.

Take a day or at least a half day in Burlington. Dinner after dark in the street is one
of the things I like about the town.

Work your way over to the Kancamangus Highway.

In South Conway head south on 153.

Go through Freedom Village, the turn isn't hard to find (there aren't a lot of turns)

Then take 25 into the Greater Portland Area. You can stay at the Wassamski Springs Campground.
After breakfast, ride into Portland and cruise the Old Port. Have lunch (or at least the oysters) at J's Oyster
Bar. It's right on the water, you can see it from Commercial St. If you like sushi or mexican or whatever, Portland
has some nice restaurants. Ask and I'll tell you what I know.If you are massively hungry, order the bouillabase at J's.

Then take the ferry to Bailey's Island (take a right out of J's and the ferry terminal is 100 yards down Commercial)
You can camp on Orrs Island (there are bridges).

Next day ride up to Brunswick and hit the Gelato Fiasco.

From here you will be riding up the coast to Acadia. Let me know
what you settle on for an itinerary and I'll see if I can suggest something useful.

Some stops along the way... Moody's Diner (it's like stepping back in time).
Camden, climb Mt Battie, preferably at dawn. (It's really just a hill, but with that classic
small New England port view). The grocery store in the center of town has excellent fruit.

Spend a couple days in Acadia. Climb Mt Cadilac ( I suggest hiking it, it's killer on a bike) and hit the Jordan Pond Tea House
if it's still open.

The coast defines New England. So.... from here you have basically 3 choices. The first is to go back down the coast, the second is to go inland,
and the third is to continue on into Canada.

Going back down the coast is the obvious choice. Lots of places to stay, eat and shop.
I can suggest an inland route if you decide on that. Things are spaced further apart,
and there is a whole lot of riding without the kind of scenery and possibilities I think you want.

The last option is Canada. You have some choices there, we'll discuss them if you want.
I like Canada, have not ridden there. You will have some long days in the saddle up there.
There is a ferry from Nova Scotia you can take back to Portland.

Last edited by late; 07-24-10 at 10:00 AM.
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Old 07-24-10, 11:14 AM
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Originally Posted by GetUpnGo
Compared to the pre-Olympics Lake Placid. Maybe before your time? :-))
Actually, that's what I thought when I read your post. I figured that only someone who remembers Lake Placid pre-1980 could think that it's ugly now. Not neccessarily before my time on earth, but before my time experiencing Lake Placid. I think it's a pretty interesting town, certainly not ugly. But admittedly I never visited until 10-12 years ago.
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Old 07-24-10, 01:32 PM
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Thulsadoom: Re Lake Placid, the lake itself and the surrounding area are still pretty, of course. It's just that main drag that's getting worse from one decade to the next. My first visit to Lake Placid was about 35 years ago!

Raybo, what about renting a compact car and dropping it off on Cape Cod, and starting your tour from there? That would spare you the whole ride from New Jersey to Albany.

I'm thinking perhaps you should focus first on the kinds of things you want to see and experience, and then figure out your route. I would say that the New England highlights are:

-- The small towns. Examples: https://www.yankeemagazine.com/issues...ngs/smalltowns
-- The rocky Maine coast, especially from about Damariscotta to Schoodic Point (which is part of Acadia National Park)
-- Acadia National Park
-- Maine coastal towns
-- The rolling farmland of Vermont
-- LL Bean (just to say you visited the mother ship)
-- Maine lighthouses (especially at Pemaquid Point and York)
-- Cape Cod and Martha's Vineyard
-- Burlington, Boston, and Portland
-- The view of the Green Mountains from the eastern shore of Lake Champlain.
-- The beaches of southern Maine
-- The fall foliage in northern Vermont, New Hampshire, and Maine. You might catch some at the end of your trip if you're far enough north.
-- Hiking in the White Mountains. If you camp in Fanconia Notch there are excellent hikes from there.
-- The Last Green Valley in Connecticut. https://www.tlgv.org/index.php I've never been there but hear it's quite nice.
-- Kayaking in Maine

ANYBODY HAVE ANYTHING SPECTACULAR TO ADD TO THAT LIST?

I'm wondering if the Adirondacks are a must-see for you. They aren't in New England. Watertown NY would take you very far west, away from the truly beautiful parts of New England. I think the White Mountains are more impressive than the Adirondacks.

One place that I would personally avoid is the Boston to Concord NH corridor on each side of route 93. Congested and nothing special to see.
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Old 07-24-10, 03:39 PM
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Raybo,
do you have any interests you would like to pursue? Do you want to hike, canoe, art, New England has a zillion historic sites and museums.
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Old 07-24-10, 03:55 PM
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Originally Posted by GetUpnGo
. Watertown NY would take you very far west, away from the truly beautiful parts of New England.
Yer killin me here....

Watertown NY is only about 15 miles from the Thousand Islands region of the St. Lawrence river. Which many people believe is one of the most beautiful places on earth. Take a boat tour through the Thousand Islands and tell me it ain't pretty amazing.
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Old 07-24-10, 04:05 PM
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First, I want to thank everyone for such great information. While it presents lots of questions I haven't even considered, it really is helping me understand the decisions and opportunities before me.

As regards Burlington, VT, Lake Champlain, and leaf peeping, after my ride (the first full week in October), my wife and I will be spending 5 days hanging out in Burlington, checking out both the Lake and leaves. As a result, I don't have a strong need to spend much time there during this bike tour.

Do you have any interests you would like to pursue? Do you want to hike, canoe, art, New England has a zillion historic sites and museums.
Good question. On my past bike tours, I tended to concentrate on bike riding through pretty scenery. I like to hike but I've only done that once (during a rest days in a campground) on a bike tour. It is unlikely that I will ride to a trail, get off the bike, hike a bit, and then continue riding. I am more likely to visit historic sites and art museums. On my recent Atlantic Coast ride, the time I spent in Williamsburg was some of the best of the entire trip. As for canoeing, the few times I did it it was fun but don't know if I would do it solo.

What about renting a compact car and dropping it off on Cape Cod, and starting your tour from there? That would spare you the whole ride from New Jersey to Albany
I don't like driving to a starting point when I could just as easily start riding from where I am. I felt the same way when I was a runner and for all my local bike rides. What's more, I've never been to New York, either, and it seems that the lakes to the west of Champlain might be pretty, as well.

Maybe the takeaway here is that going all the Watertown is way out of my way and, instead, I should head directly toward the New York lakes. As a rough estimate, from Lambertville to Albany is about 260 mostly flat miles, about 4 days riding. It is probably another 2 or 3 days to get to Highway 28 at Hirkimer where I could follow some of the route GetUpnGo outlined above.

Are the New York lakes west of Champlain worth the effort?

I'll respond more, later, but I have to go now.

Thanks, again,

Ray
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Old 07-24-10, 04:42 PM
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Originally Posted by Thulsadoom
Yer killin me here....

Watertown NY is only about 15 miles from the Thousand Islands region of the St. Lawrence river. Which many people believe is one of the most beautiful places on earth. Take a boat tour through the Thousand Islands and tell me it ain't pretty amazing.
OK Thulsadoom, you win: I'd better stop making judgments. You've made me realize that every place on the planet is probably loved by someone. Thing is, I grew up in your area. I guess it's hard to feel affection for the place everyone fled from after high school. Dunno. But I apologize for dissing your favorite places. I pledge to cease and desist from judgments henceforth. By the way, I love the Adirondacks. Have hiked and biked quite a bit around there. Just think the OP's time would be better spent east of there, if he's looking for New England.

Heck, Bette Midler made a movie about Watertown, so I guess it can't be that bad.
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Old 07-24-10, 05:16 PM
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New York State

OK Ray, let's take another look at New York State, since you really want to do it. I think I see a good route that will bring you through the Adirondacks and over to the beautiful country around Middlebury VT.

1) Erie Canal path from Albany

2) Choose 1 of 2 routes to Blue Mountain Lake: either 30A and 30, or 28 from Forestport. I think route 28 is nicer, but would require pushing farther west to get on it.

3) Tupper Lake, Saranac Lake, Lake Placid---all nice and will give you a real feel for the Adirondacks. It will be good to have lakes to bathe in at will.

4) 9N to Elizabethtown.

5) Ferry from Crown Point NY to Chimney Point VT. https://www.ferries.com/temporary_schedule.asp

From there, you can go north or south in Vermont. If someone else can help you find a route through Vermont, I can give you more specific help with New Hampshire.
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Old 07-25-10, 08:57 AM
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Is there any reason not to take Highway 3 from Saranac Lake up to Plattsburg and then ride up and over Lake Champlain?

Ray
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Old 07-25-10, 03:28 PM
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Originally Posted by raybo
Is there any reason not to take Highway 3 from Saranac Lake up to Plattsburg and then ride up and over Lake Champlain?
I guess not. That would solve your ferry problem. If you have a passport you might as well step into Canada while you're at it.

I don't remember much about route 3. Route 86 out of Lake Placid is scenic.
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Old 07-25-10, 04:27 PM
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Originally Posted by raybo
Is there any reason not to take Highway 3 from Saranac Lake up to Plattsburg and then ride up and over Lake Champlain?

Ray
nice road with good shoulders. There are a couple of small towns along the way, so you have places to stop and get a snack. I would head out to Cumberland Point from Plattsburgh and take the ferry to Grand Isle in Vermont. Nice 15 minute ferry ride. Once in Vt, you can head north thru the islands, were there are a couple of state parks for camping. Or head east off the islands and continue on the mainland in any direction you wish.
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Old 07-25-10, 04:39 PM
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Originally Posted by raybo
Is there any reason not to take Highway 3 from Saranac Lake up to Plattsburg and then ride up and over Lake Champlain?

Ray
No reason at all. Go for it.
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Old 07-27-10, 08:41 AM
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I've roughed out some portions of my route.

From Lambertville, NJ to Albany, NY via ACA route and NY Route 9 is 250 miles.

From Albany, NY to the Junction of Hwy 28 via Erie Canal is 120 miles.

Hwy 28 to Plattsburg (western side of Lake Champlain) is 200 miles.

Plattsburg to NH border via a northern route 150 miles

NH Border to Conway, NH via Hwy 3 (Connecticut River valley) 120 miles.

Conway to Boston is 160 miles.

Adding all those up is 1000 miles.

Here is the route from Plattsburg, NY to Conway, NH described above.

Assuming that 1000 miles is about what I do in a month, riding from Lambertville means no time for Maine. If instead of riding to Albany, I drive from Lambertville (Trenton airport, actually) to Albany, I save 250 miles that I can use later to tour a bit of southern Maine.

But, looking at a map, it isn't clear to me how I might continue from Conway, NH into Maine and then down to Boston.

I'd appreciate any ideas or comments on a route in Maine or the above route through Vermont (which is just one I drew so I'm not wedded to it).

The route suggested by late above, namely 153 down to 25 and over to Portland looks interesting but I'm not sure where I might go from there. It is about 60 miles from Conway to Porland, ME. I suspect the rest of the miles could be used riding from Portland down to Boston, seeing as much of the coast as I can (something like this).


Thanks for all your help so far.

Ray

Last edited by raybo; 07-27-10 at 09:02 AM. Reason: Added links to routes.
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Old 07-28-10, 01:40 PM
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"Assuming that 1000 miles is about what I do in a month, riding from Lambertville means no time for Maine."

That's why I was trying to nudge you away from the Adirondacks. Not because they aren't nice, but because the beautiful Maine coast awaits you. The Green and White Mountains are as nice as the Adirondacks, although admittedly the Adirondacks have more lakes and they're nicer. The Adirondacks have a more rustic feel, but the Vermont farm country is certainly very attractive.

"If instead of riding to Albany, I drive from Lambertville (Trenton airport, actually) to Albany, I save 250 miles that I can use later to tour a bit of southern Maine." MUCH better idea!! Except for the "southern" Maine part. You need to hit the Maine Midcoast if you're able. You won't regret it, even if it means giving up some other part of your trip.

"The route suggested by late above, namely 153 down to 25 and over to Portland looks interesting but I'm not sure where I might go from there." In my opinion, your main objective lies NORTHEAST of Portland, in the Boothbay Harbor region and beyond. For someone from the Pacific coast, the beaches of southern Maine would be just "ok." It's the rocky Maine coast that is considered worldclass scenery. Acadia National Park would be ideal, but if that's too far there are plenty of beautiful places south of there.

Once you've chosen a general route, I can talk to you about specific routes through New Hampshire via e-mail if you would like. Too detailed to go into here.
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