Reader Ride - New Hampshire

Text: Pat Henderson • Photography: David K. Headley

At anytime during riding season, the Cheshire County Loop offers an excellent day's ride for any motorcyclist. In the spring, when life is bursting forth, the earthy smells awaken a sense of adventure. On a quiet summer day, the tree-canopied roadways tease with dappled sunshine, and the ponds and lakes glint and reflect the sky above. And then autumn is perhaps the best, with New England's stunning palette of reds and golds painting the hillsides.

Start at the Irving Station on Route 101 at the Milford/Wilton line where you can fill the tank, have one last coffee, or purchase a few snacks for the road. Then head out on Route 31 north. Don't blink passing through Wilton or else you'll miss the town hall, a magnificent structure that dominates Main Street. On the approach into Greenfield, there's a big surprise: a large trebuchet aimed at a mock castle facade. In the fall the trebuchet is pressed into action and loaded with gourds that are hurled toward the fortress at the annual Pumkin' Chunkin' event.

From the town center of Greenfield, follow the signs for Greenfield State Park, continue on Forest Road, and soon, at the Hancock/Greenfield line, you'll cross the stream spilling from the Powder Mill Pond on the first of two picturesque covered bridges in the day's loop.

Cross directly at Route 202 and continue on Forest Road to connect with Route 123. Reconstructed after a flood inundated the area in 2005, Route 123 is now a very well maintained country road. Each of the towns passed this way and those ahead have wonderful colonial charm, too, with central meeting houses that long ago rang with the declamations of our forefathers and quiet village greens.

In Stoddard the climb to Pitcher Mountain, which rises to 2,153 feet, begins. Pitcher Mountain Farm, where American Highland Cattle graze, sits on the east shoulder. On the next rise, the view to the left arrays Warren Lake below, with vistas stretching on into Vermont and Massachusetts. On the descent, riders should be particularly attentive on the hairpin turn at Mill Hollow, and once past that point the drop continues in a series of twisties along the Cold River into Alstead.

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For the complete touring article, including facts & information, map(s), and GPS files, please purchase the November/December 2009 back issue.