This summer take an RV trip along the Connecticut River Byway to experience the most powerful river trail through New England. You can get a full taste of the history, beauty and heritage of three states as you drive this most fascinating and inspiring route. Outdoor recreation is abundant, and the entire family will find activities and fun things to do along the way. Paddling, fishing, hiking and bird watching – whichever you prefer is available, and more.
Starting in Massachusetts and traveling up through Vermont and New Hampshire, this scenic drive will take approximately 14 hours, depending on how often and how long you stop. When you pass through this landscape of rich farms and historic villages, you get a different view of our heritage. Stop at the Mount Holyoke Range State Park and you can find what hikes are available by stopping in at Notch Visitor Center.
On Mount Holyoke, you should be sure to visit the Summit House which was once a luxurious hotel and is now part of J.A. Skinner State Park. The views from this spot will literally take your breath away. On a clear day you will be able to see all the way into New Hampshire and get a glimpse of Mount Greylock.
In Hadley, Massachusetts, stop in at the Hadley Farm Museum. Here you will discover an incredible collection of early farm vehicles and equipment, all housed in a barn built in 1782. Historic artifacts to see include butter churns, toys, cobbler benches and other furnishings. You will really be taking a step back in time.
If you are ready for some hiking, you can embark upon a portion of the Metacomet Monadnock Mattabesett Trail, a National Scenic Trail offering some outstanding scenery and plenty of other recreation as well. One part of the trail is great for those of all ages and is five miles long (the Route 77 to Route 17 section).
Coming upon quaint New England towns is all part of the adventure. Small communities show you a huge welcome, such as in Canaan, Vermont or other Vermont towns such as Littleton, Brattleboro or Vernon.
When traveling through Vermont, stop at one or more of the many state parks along the way. There is a long list of them. Recommended is Fort Dummer State Park in Brattleboro. This fort in the southern foothills of the beautiful Green Mountains was flooded in 1908 with the building of the dam on the river. It can be viewed from the vista from Sunrise Trail. Quechee State Park is also a place to stop and nearby you can visit the Calvin Coolidge State Historic Site and the glass blowing mill and pottery shop. Both parks have campgrounds for RV motorhomes.
When in New Hampshire, find many wonderful places to stop with the family to take in the sights and sounds of New England. Small towns such as Pittsburg, New Hampshire, Bath, Woodsville and Hinsdale invite you into their locale so you can enjoy the hospitality and ambience. The North Woods is an intriguing place and one that provides a multitude of recreation opportunities. Of course, in the winter there is skiing and snow sports, but in summer there are just as many things to do, such as hiking, trout and salmon fishing and much more.
Your route is sure to take you by the Chesterfield Gorge Natural Area, thirteen acres of natural beauty. There are numerous hiking paths along the gorge and you can take some photos of the views. As you hike along through the gorge, notice how the brook flows from a rushing cascade to a gentle stream. It will finally merge with the Connecticut River farther downstream.
In Lancaster, New Hampshire, the John Wingate Weeks Historic Site gives you the opportunity to see a lodge that makes interior decorators melt with envy. Gorgeous picture windows, massive fireplaces of fieldstone! Climb the tower and view the countryside from the observation deck.
Naturally, you will want to get out into the forest and the best way to do that is to take to the trails. Natural wonders are abundant on the Connecticut River Birding Trail (PDF) with numerous stops along the Connecticut River to witness the many species of birds. The Northern Forest Canoe Trail is also nearby, a place where Native Americans made their way across the land in their birch-bark canoes. History runs deep here and the sights you see will remind you of that time and time again.
Picture credits: The picture of the Connecticut River Byway is by Christopher Curtis and is from the America’s Byways Website. It is in the public domain.