6 Motorcycle Routes for Leaf Peeping in New England
September 13, 2022
Updated on September 22, 2023
It’s about that time of year, when the trees start to change colors for autumn. The fall foliage prompts tourists, and locals alike, to visit the best spots in New England for leaf peeping. One great way to enjoy the fall foliage is to ride a motorcycle down long roads full of the most colorful trees in the country. We know our members love their motorcycles, because we finance them! And with insurance through our subsidiary, WebFirst Insurance, LLC, you can ride with peace of mind knowing you’re protected.
To help you enjoy New England’s fall colors to the fullest, we put together a list of routes in all six New England states to cruise and enjoy the view.
1. Kancamagus Highway, White Mountains, New Hampshire
Peak foliage: late September through mid-October
The Kancamagus Highway is one of New Hampshire’s most famous attractions. Every fall season, bikers, tourists, travel photographers, and bloggers show up to ride through the White Mountains and witness their beauty. The Kancamagus Highway (known by locals as the Kanc) is a 56.39-mile-long highway that begins in Lincoln, NH and ends in Conway, NH. There are no gas stations, convenience stores, food stores, or hotels anywhere along the highway, so make sure you’re prepared. For a rest break, stop at White Mountain National Forest, where parking is just $5.
2. Acadia National Park – Park Loop Road, Bar Harbor, Maine
Peak foliage: late September through mid-October
Park Loop Road in Acadia National Park is a 27-mile scenic drive around the east side of Mount Desert Island. Speed limits range from 25-35 mph, so sit back and take a slow ride through Maine’s colorful mountains and beaches. In addition to the breathtaking views along this road, there are picnic areas, scenic overlooks, and trailheads for those of you who like to hike. Begin your ride at the Hulls Cove Visitor Center where you can purchase an entrance pass that’s $25 for motorcycles.
3. Mad River Scenic Byway, Vermont
Peak foliage: last week in September to first week in October
Mad River Valley is in the center of the Vermont mountains with many travel route options. The Mad River Scenic Byway is the main route through the valley and is 36-miles of forest, farmland, and scenic views. If you find yourself riding on September 24 or 25 this year, you can stop at the ski lodge, Mad River Glen, for an event called “foliage weekend” during which you can take a ride on the ski lift. Adult tickets are $20; junior and senior tickets are $15.
4. Quabbin Reservoir Loop, Massachusetts
Peak foliage: second and third week in October
The Quabbin Reservoir Loop in Massachusetts is rated 5 stars for scenery on motorcycleroads.com. On this road, you’ll ride around the reservoir to find more scenic views, farmlands, and quaint little Massachusetts towns. This 64-mile loop starts in Athol and rounds through Amherst, Belchertown, Hardwick, and Petersham, MA. Look out for a gravel road scenic pull-off along Route 9. See the link above for in depth directions.
5. Northern Connecticut Appalachian Mountains
Peak foliage: third week in October
This ride also has 5 stars for scenery on motorcycleroads.com. It’s a long 102-mile loop that brings you along the Appalachian Trail and passes many towns. In these towns you can find lodging, museums, state parks, and restaurants to stop at if you’re feeling hungry. For more in depth directions on the route, click the link above.
6. Border to Newport, Rhode Island
Peak foliage: last two weeks of October
Last but not least, we have the tiniest state: Rhode Island. This ride may be more about the beaches than the trees, but after all, you are in the Ocean State. This ride is 55-miles one way. Start at the border of Massachusetts where Route 146 meets Route 102. On scenic Route 102, you’ll get some of the best foliage views in the state according to visitrhodeisland.com. Switch to Route 138 and head south on 138A until you get into Newport. From there, find Ocean Ave, on which you will pass by Brenton Point State Park and the Ocean Drive Historic district with wide open ocean views. If you are looking for extra things to do while you are in Newport, there are many shops and restaurants on Thames Street. You will also be near the Cliff Walk and famous Newport Mansions which you can visit for an entrance fee.
Bonus Route: Mohawk Trail, Massachusetts
In 2023, Webster First is sponsoring an event called Adams Fall Run, a motorcycle ride to raise money for veterans. On October 1, riders will take a 67-mile ride through the Berkshires along parts of the Mohawk Trail; beginning and ending at Bowe Field in Adams, MA.
This year there is another special cause the fundraising efforts will go toward. The ride is dedicated to Presley Fields, a child who suffers from a very rare heart condition – Hypoplastic Left Heart Syndrome. Presley is currently in the hands of the competent doctors at Boston Children’s Hospital where he is awaiting surgery. But you don’t need to be a rider to help the cause. Visit the website linked above to contribute donations online.
You also don’t need to be a rider to join the after party being held at Shelburne Falls Pub and Brew. There will be games, food, and live music at the hub of the event in Bowe Field, as well. For a full schedule and map of the route as well as a timeline of each segment, visit the Adams Fall Run schedule page. Registration is open to the public and costs $20 per bike. 100% of proceeds benefit local chapters of American Legion Riders. Last year, Adams Fall Run was able to raise $15,000 for veterans in need.