Are you a road bike enthusiast? Maybe you’re someone who wants to be a road bike enthusiast? Or you’d love to try mountain biking, but only have a bike suited for pavement and aren’t quite ready to purchase a new bike? Whatever your reason for loving the open ride on your bike, we have you covered with some great cycling routes in the Mt. Washington Valley!
First be sure to have the appropriate gear. Whether you are looking to rent a bike or try out a high-end demo, the valley has an array of rental businesses with cycling enthusiasts working there. They’ll outfit you with the right equipment and make suggestions on protective clothing and gently remind you to wear sunscreen! Also, be sure to grab a coffee and a proper breakfast before heading out and make sure you know where your lunch is coming from.
Mapping out a route in a new town and vacation spot isn’t always the most intuitive thing to plan. The best routes – meaning a wide enough shoulder to provide a safe distance from you and cars and a route that’s not already saturated with cyclists in the know – are always the hardest to find.
We’ll give you a few hints on some of the best routes in the valley to hop onto and from there you can discover backroads to personalize your own cycling experience through the valley!
Fryeburg, Maine: Park at the visitor center, located on your left just as you pass over the state line from New Hampshire into Maine. The visitor center parking lot gives you access to eight miles of paved riding on the Mountain Division Trail. With undulating hills, this is a great option for beginner and intermediate riders as well as small children. It also acts as a gateway to riding into Fryeburg Village as there are multiple stop and exit points on the trail. Plan an evening ride and sync your ride up with a stop at the Oxford House Inn for an apres-ride drink or casual fine dining experience!
The Visitor Center in Fryeburg also gives you access to Haley Town Road. A six mile paved town road that brings you into Brownfield. From here you options are endless. Haley Town is a great option because it’s not as busy as main roads, making it much safer to ride on.
Once you reach the end of Haley Town Road, you can take a right and travel for eight miles into Snowville, NH and stop at Snowvillage Inn for an early evening bevvy. Haley Town has rolling hills and the route from Brownfield into Snowville provides the opportunity for some pretty rugged uphills to really put you to work – especially the last hill leading up to Snowvillage Inn! While any experience level could take Haley Town Rd., adding on the miles to Snowvillage Inn is definitely for a more conditioned rider.
If you wanted to add even more miles to your Fryeburg based ride, continue on from Snowville, into Eaton Center. Take a right onto route 153, as you pass the picturesque Crystal Lake and head into Conway Village. You can either have someone pick you up in Conway, or you can circle back from Conway to Fryeburg via route 16. That would be a monster of a ride, totaling close to thirty miles. Being properly hydrated and fueled is a must for this ride.
North Conway: If you’re looking for a quick “in-and-out” bike ride to get your day started, consider West Side Road to River Road! Start from North Conway Village (maybe even ride out from your hotel!) and connect to West Side Road. In a mile and a half, you’ll come to River Road, with strawberry fields on your left and a picturesque farm stand selling fresh jam and freshly picked strawberries.
River Road will take you into Conway, where you can do a quick turn-around and head back to North Conway, via River Road again, or can keep going straight at the light at the light where River Road and Washington Street meet and connect onto 153. This will take you into Eaton and depending on how you plan your route into Brownfield – as mentioned above – or into Freedom.
Cycling West Side Road to Conway and back is suitable for any competent rider. Round trip it equals just over 10 miles. If you begin to add miles on by going down route 153, you begin to tack on miles and hills. Be sure to take honest stock of where you are at in your endurance, hydration and nutrition for these longer rides.
Headed North: If your vacation plants you on the Northern side of the valley, there is plenty of miles to ride! A particular favorite would be the Bear Notch Loop in Bartlett! Start out in Bartlett, headed north, and just after the Josiah Bartlett Elementary School, you’ll see a left-hand turn taking you to Bear Notch Road. This particular road will connect you to the Kancamagus Highway in three miles.
A left hand turn will take you into Conway in about twelve-ish miles. From there your options are endless. You could connect back onto West Side Road in four miles and head back into North Conway and ride all the way back to Bartlett. That would be equal out to be a 40+ mile ride, so be sure you’re ready to take on a long ride such as that one. This particular ride also features narrow shoulders in some part to biker safety is key here. Be extra alert on this ride!
Time spent in Bartlett on a bike can also take you into Crawford Notch, where you can take a leisurely ride and make stops at Arethusa Falls and Sawyer River. If a challenge is what you seek, keep putting the miles in and make your way to Crawford Notch. Either plan to have someone pick you up as you make your way to the AMC Highland Center.
Or go for gold and do the entire Crawford Notch to Pinkham Notch loop, via route 2 through Randolph. This ride is over 40 miles on rugged terrain. It requires mental and physical stamina and plenty of time to complete. While it’s not recommended for a leisurely rider, it can be a great option for those looking to for an extreme competition.
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Photo c/o Wiseguy Photography