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Scenic trails built for two-wheeling

ETA Webmaster note: This article is from the AAA Horizons magazine for Southern New England. It lists the Eastern Trail as one of ten favorite scenic trails in New England.Click here to go directly to the ET description in their list below.

By Juliet Pennington

Eastern Trail, York and Cumberland counties in southern Maine. “The path flies by as you and I ride a bicycle built for two.”

So go the lyrics from one version of the popular song, “Daisy Bell,” commonly known as “Bicycle Built for Two,” a ditty written in the late 1800s by English songwriter Harry Dacre while on a visit to America.

And while most prefer bicycles built for one to those of the tandem variety, cycling enthusiasts share a love of this healthy, outdoor activity that is often accompanied by a picturesque backdrop best viewed while two-wheeling.

There are many scenic bike paths within a day’s drive, and more are in the planning, design and/or construction phase. Most have shops in close proximity that rent and sell bicycles.

Here are some of our favorites:

1. Burlington Bike Path, Burlington, Vt. Built on a former railway line, this 7.5-mile recreational path runs along the Lake Champlain shoreline and links six public parks. It also passes two beaches, several picnic areas and offers breathtaking views of the lake and the Adirondack Mountains to the west. For those seeking a longer route, the trail extends north into neighboring lakeside towns.

2. Cayuga Waterfront Trail, Ithaca, N.Y. One of the most scenic bike paths in the Finger Lakes region, this paved waterfront trail cuts through the lovely Cass Park and continues along the shores of Cayuga Lake. Two-thirds complete, construction on the final 2-mile stretch – connecting Cass Park and Ithaca’s Farmers Market at DeWitt Park – will begin next year to complete the 6-mile trail.

3. Charles River Bike Paths, Boston/Cambridge/Watertown. Several paved, off-road paths make up this multi-use recreational trail. Travel along both sides of the Charles River, from the Museum of Science in Boston to Watertown – passing through the Boston Esplanade. On Sundays, from the last Sunday in April through the second Sunday in November, Memorial Drive (from Eliot Bridge to Western Avenue) is closed to cars and makes for a great leisurely bike ride.

4. East Bay Bike Path, Providence to Bristol, R.I. Begin your 14.5-mile ride in the industrialized section of the city, through Haines Memorial Park, over bridges and along beaches that border sparkling Narragansett Bay. Continue on past Bristol’s beautiful Colt State Park and end your journey at Independence Park, a waterfront green on historic Bristol Harbor.

5. Eastern Trail, York and Cumberland counties in southern Maine. The construction of this bike path that follows the historic Eastern Railroad corridor began in the mid-1980s. When all is said and done, it will be a contiguous 65-mile off-road path meandering through 12 communities in two counties in southern Maine. About 22 miles have been completed and, so far, the longest stretch is an 8.8-mile route between Saco and Scarborough. Woods, streams, marshes and bogs will greet cyclists as they enjoy the Pine Tree State’s natural beauty.


6. Farmington Canal Heritage Greenway, New Hav­en, Conn., to Northampton. Following the corridor of the defunct Farmington Canal, this bike path will stretch for 84 uninterrupted miles once it’s complete. Beginning at the Yale University campus and running north, more than half of the 84 miles have been developed as a recreational route for non-motorized activities. There are plenty of trees to provide shade and attract a variety of birds, and picnic tables and benches dot the path.

7. Franconia Notch State Park Recreational Trail, Franconia, N.H. This paved bike path that parallels Franconia Notch State Parkway for a nearly 20-mile round-trip loop offers amazing views and takes riders within easy reach (or sight) of the park’s many attractions, including the Flume Gorge, Echo Lake and the site where the Old Man of the Mountain profile stood sentinel prior to the rock formation’s collapse in 2003.

8. Lachine Canal Recreation Path, Montreal, Quebec. This city’s cycling scene is among the best around, with more than 300 miles of bike routes and paths. One of the most popular of these asphalt corridors is the 9-mile stretch along the banks of the Lachine Canal, from the Old Port to Lake Saint-Louis. Cyclists enjoy stunning scenery as they ride along this relatively flat path on an inland waterway.

You can read the full article online here but you will have to enter a valid MA zip code (02630 works) at the opening screen.

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