Massachusetts roads offer plenty of options for scenic, relaxing afternoon drives, from the Berkshires to the coast. Enjoy the natural air conditioner that is the Quabbin reservoir, countless cozy towns with their own unique mystique, the bridge of flowers in Shelburne Falls, and the picturesque rolling farmlands of rural central Mass. We’ve put together our top 10 choices for the best motorcycle rides Massachusetts has to offer.
1. Shelburne Falls Loop
Distance: 132 miles
Time to Ride: 3hrs-half a day or more to explore the towns
When you think of central MA, think craggy hills, serene farmland, and small towns full of shops, restaurants, and bookstores. The Shelburne Falls Loop winds through Ambeherst, Pelham, Shelburne Falls, and skirts the western edge of the Quabbin Reservoir. Over the course of the 132-mile loop, you’ll experience a huge variety of scenery and generally good road conditions, though there are a few long, steep uphill slopes and rougher sections to be aware of. Stop in Shelburne Falls to walk across the spellbinding Bridge of Flowers, a flourishing garden-on-a-bridge, ramble through downtown Amherst for fantastic shopping and local food joints, or stop in Petersham for ice cream from an old-fashioned local stand.
2. Concord to The North Shore
Time to Ride: 3 hours – as long as you want!
Take the drive from Concord to Gloucester to experience a touch of colonial history and some of Massachusetts’ best coastal scenery. Start in Concord, and if you want, take a bit of time to explore the Minute Man National Park, where the “shot heard around the world” was fired, or visit the Old Manse, which was once home to Ralph Waldo Emerson and Nathaniel Hawthorne. Then enjoy the twisty, winding roads toward the North Shore. If you have even a passing interest in the Salem Witch Trials, you’ll want to pull off in Salem and see some of the sights. Rockport is one of the next beautiful stops on Cape Ann. With plenty of shopping, dining, and artisan shops, you’ll want to stay for awhile–and this is a great place to plan an overnight if you want to make this ride a multi-day trip. You’ll want to stop at the Annisquam Market for a bite to eat away from throngs of tourists, then at Halibut State Park, where you might catch a few seals seabathing before taking the final scenic stretch into Gloucester.
3. Loop Around the Quabbin Reservoir
Distance: 64 miles
Time to Ride: 1.5 – 2 hours
The Quabbin is massive–the largest inland body of water in Mass., and the source of most of the water for Boston and around 40 other communities in the central part of the state. During your loop around the reservoir, you’ll get a range of Massachusetts scenery including fields, forests, small towns, and farmland. Occasional pull-offs offer scenic views of the reservoir, backed by rolling hills, and generally well-maintained roads make this loop a smooth, relaxing ride. This is the perfect summertime ride, thanks to the cooling effect of breezes off the water.
4. The Mohawk Trail
Distance: 35 miles
Time to Drive: 1 hour
If you’re looking for beautiful mountain scenery (and not much else), the Mohawk Trail ride along Route 2 is a great choice. Spanning the mountains between North Adams and Greenfield, this route follows an ancient Native American trade route that connected tribes in upstate New York and beyond with those near the Atlantic. Today, it’s a smooth, winding road over some of the state’s best scenery. Keep in mind that there aren’t a lot of places to stop along the way, so you might want to bring lunch with you to enjoy at a scenic overlook, or plan to stop in Greenfield for a bite to eat at the end of your ride.
5. Wachusett Reservoir Area Loop
Distance: 75 Miles
Time to Drive: 2-3 hours
Located just west of the Boston metro area, the Wachusett loop covers picturesque farmland, forests, and cozy small towns that invite you to pull over and explore for awhile. With a scenic stop on the coast of the Wachusett Reservoir and, postcard-perfect Harvard center, and an array of stately Victorian architecture in the tiny towns along the way, you won’t find a single boring stretch of road. The well-maintained roads are typically one-lane, well-maintained stretches. Stop in Maynard for ice cream at the Big Scoop and to poke around the variety of small shops, or spend an hour or two exploring the Tower Hill Botanic Garden in West Boylston.
6. Sleepy Hollow Tour
Distance: 204 Miles
Time to Drive: allow a full day
Though the Spooky Hollow Tour includes a stretch through western Massachusetts, a large portion of it rambles through eastern New York, as well. For a shorter segment, you can just drive the western edge of Mass. from Egremont to Williamstown for some beautiful mountain scenery. But if you’re working on a bucket list of New England rides, you can’t miss the full ride, which some bikers turn into a three-day tour. This ride is chock-full of history, scenery, and spooky landscapes–misty mountains in the morning, several covered bridges along the way, and generous sprinklings of Dutch architecture. Be aware that Route 22 is very hilly and twisty in spots, so if that’s not your preference, you might want to stay on the Taconic State Parkway for that stretch instead.
7. Cape Cod Tour
Distance: 60 miles
Time to Drive: half a day or more, if you plan to stop to explore
No listing of Massachusetts rides would be complete without Cape Cod’s Rt. 6A. The twisting, winding roads and breathtaking scenery along this destination route in Cape Cod make it worth braving the seasonal traffic. You’ll have plenty of opportunities to soak up views of the beach and the bay, to stop and explore, or to wander through the Cape’s quaint small towns. Stop in Provincetown to see the historic Race Point lighthouse and visit the Scargo Tower in Dennis for views overlooking Cape Cod Bay.
8. Route 66 to Northampton
Distance: 23 miles
Time to Ride: 30 minutes – 1 hour
This short stretch of road running from Russell to Northampton makes a fantastic quick ride passing through farmlands and skirting state parks with a backdrop of rugged hills/mountains. The two-lane roads are well-maintained and typically don’t have too much traffic, but there are just enough twists and hills to keep the route interesting. When you arrive in Northampton, set aside some time to explore, do a little shopping, and grab a bite to eat at one of the fantastic local food joints.
9. Route 119
Distance: 60 miles
Time to Ride: 2-3 hours
Start in Groton, MA and just stay on Route 119 for a scenic twisty, winding road up through the mountains toward the New Hampshire border. This route crosses into NH and ends in the cute, touristy village of Brattleboro, where you’ll find plenty of small, local places to eat and explore. The road is single-lane and well-maintained throughout. Stop at the Ashburnham State Forest to stretch your legs and take in the waterfalls.
10. Country to Castle
Distance: 36 miles
Time to Ride: 1-2 hours
Take a couple of hours to see farmland, forests, city, and coasts! On the Country to Castle Ride, you’ll start out near Taunton and wind your way through the countryside to the bays of South Boston and Boston’s Castle Island, where you’ll want to take a few hours to explore Fort Independence and the nearby attractions. A gift shop, ice cream parlor and restaurant on Castle Island make for great opportunities to refuel and stretch your legs before doing some exploring and continuing your ride.