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Urban Adventures: New England's Cities

Pack a sandwich and park your car on the south side of Route 6, 0.9 miles east of Route 10. Then head across the road and start walking the Metacomet Trail. Towering hemlocks stand tall at the trail’s edge as you make your way up a 250-foot-high ridge of Farmington Mountain. Within 20 to 30 minutes, you’ll be looking down at the reservoir and quarry below. You have the best view money can’t buy.

Manchester, NH: Bike Trail

You can thank a small group of locals in southwestern Wisconsin for creating an outdoor trend that has become a focal point of urban renewal across America. In the early 1960s, these out-of-the-box thinkers decided to do something creative with their stretch of abandoned railroad by reinventing it as a recreational path for bikers and walkers. Folks in New Hampshire have followed suit by taking a section of the Boston & Maine network and creating the state’s longest rail trail, the 25-mile Rockingham Recreational Trail, which runs east of Manchester to the town of Newfields, about 12 miles from the coast. ATVs and other motorized vehicles are allowed, so the best time to avoid the hum is on a weekday.

To reach the trail’s western start in Manchester, take Exit 1 off Route 101 East; then head south on Route 28, proceed around a rotary, and turn left into a parking lot at Lake Massabesic.

Starting here, the gravel trail follows the shoreline of the lake. At the five-mile mark, you’ll venture through the first of three short tunnels, the path becoming more secluded as you make your way toward Onway Lake. Pass through a narrow granite corridor and then another tunnel before arriving at the town of Raymond, the halfway point. This is a good place to have a snack before continuing onward or turning back.

On the second half of the trail, you’ll cross a long, old railroad bridge and soon be traveling along the Lamprey River. The last two miles to Newfields is a peaceful jaunt through meadows and woods before the path ends at an abandoned rail depot.

Burlington, VT: Sailing

Good winds, sheltered bays, hundreds of islands, and scenic anchorages combine to make 120-mile-long Lake Champlain one of the top cruising grounds in the East. Find a boat, with or without a captain, on the docks of Burlington. Winds of Ireland (800-458-9301, 802-863-5090; charters 30- to 40-foot Hunters by the day or week. Rates start at $300 per half day, with an extra $25 per hour for a captain.

Once you set sail, head south along the Vermont shore. Cormorants fly overhead as you cruise past the luxurious houses of South Cove, Shelburne Point, and Shelburne Bay. At the Lake Champlain Yacht Club, hundreds of sailboats are docked, tall masts gently bobbing and swaying from side to side. Past the fertile fields of Shelburne Farms, head west across the heart of the lake, where it’s hard not to become mesmerized by the backbone of the Adirondack Mountains, beckoning from the New York side of Champlain. The lake is so vast that even on a busy weekend day, the waters never feel crowded.

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