10 Great New England Scenic Byways

New England is one of the most scenic regions of the United States. You don’t have to travel far to find byways filled with picture perfect foliage, forests, rivers, waterfalls, lakes, farms, covered bridges, and ocean views. While there are many federal, state, and locally designated scenic byways in New England worthy of a road trip, here are 10 Great New England Scenic Byways.

Bold Coast Scenic Byway

You’ll get your share of quaint Maine fishing villages on the Bold Coast Scenic Byway, taking you 125 miles from Milbridge to Eastport. The Bold Coast Scenic Byway takes you past granite shores dotted with fishing boats, wild blueberry barrens, forests, recreational trails, aquatic wildlife, farmlands, and lighthouses. The historic towns and villages along the Byway are active fishing communities. The red and white candy-striped West Quoddy Head Lighthouse, at Quoddy Head State Park, is where the sun first rises in the United States.

Connecticut river scenic byway

Connecticut River Scenic Byway

The Connecticut River Scenic Byway is New England’s longest scenic byway, running 498 miles through Massachusetts, Vermont, and New Hampshire. The Byway starts in South Hadley, Massachusetts and follows the Connecticut River north, zig-zagging between New Hampshire and Vermont, to Fourth Connecticut Lake at the New Hampshire-Canada border. You’ll see farmlands, foliage, storied college towns, over 50 covered bridges, hiking and biking trails, lakes, museums, galleries, and wildlife. Farm stands along the Byway sell produce, maple syrup, baked goods, and other food items. 

Connecticut Route 169

Starting in Lisbon, in eastern Connecticut, and stretching for 32 miles to the Connecticut/Massachusetts state line, Route 169 takes you past several small villages; farmlands; colonial homesteads, churches, and meeting houses; forests; orchards; and the Quinebaug River. One of the homesteads, the Prudence Crandall House in Canterbury, was the location of the first school to educate Black women in New England and is a National Historic Landmark. 

Currier & Ives Scenic Byway

The Currier & Ives Scenic Byway takes you through the New Hampshire towns of Salisbury, Webster, Warner, Hopkinton, and Henniker. Starting at the Franklin-Salisbury town line, the 40-mile Byway brings you past 200+ year old farmlands, the Contoocook and Blackwater Rivers, Rollins State Park, historic churches and villages, apple orchards, forested hills, a few covered bridges, and views of Mt. Kearsarge and Pats Peak before it ends at the Henniker-Hillsborough town line. Daniel Webster’s birthplace and the Franklin Pierce Homestead are a short distance from the Byway. 

kangamangus highway scenic byway
Photo by Matt LaVasseur

Kancamagus Scenic Byway

Perhaps the best-known road in New Hampshire for fall foliage seekers, the Kancamagus Scenic Byway runs for 26 miles through the White Mountains. The Byway, Route 112, named for the last leader of the Pennacook Nation, connects North Woodstock to Conway. The Pemigewasset and Swift Rivers run along the highway, which is also part of the White Mountain National Forest. There are outlooks where you can stop, enjoy the scenery, and watch the local wildlife. You can access hiking and walking trails, swimming holes, ponds, and waterfalls. There are no services on the Byway and a day pass fee applies if you stop at a trailhead or parking area.

Katahdin Woods & Waters Scenic Byway

Starting at the South Gate of Maine’s Baxter State Park, the 89-mile long Katahdin Woods & Waters Scenic Byway takes you to Grand Lake Matagamon, near the northern part of Baxter State Park. The Byway provides views of Mount Katahdin, especially at Ash Hill, a few miles south of Patten. Mount Katahdin provided the inspiration for Henry David Thoreau and other writers and artists to create their works. While Mount Katahdin is the scenic highlight of the Byway, you’ll also find forests, farmlands, wildlife, lakes, ponds, streams, and the Penobscot River. The Katahdin Woods & Waters Scenic Byway provides access to the Katahdin Woods & Waters National Monument, from where you can hike to the Appalachian Trail. 

mowhawk trail road trip

Mohawk Trail Scenic Byway

One of the first scenic touring roads in the country, the 60+ mile long Mohawk Trail Scenic Byway (Route 2) connects Williamstown and Athol, Massachusetts. Originally used by indigenous Americans and European settlers to travel between the Hudson River and Connecticut River Valleys, the Byway runs parallel to and crosses the Millers, Connecticut, Green, Deerfield, and Hoosic Rivers. You’ll find state forests, museums, historic sites, walking trails, galleries, and historic towns. In autumn, the Mohawk Trail Scenic Byway attracts visitors enchanted by its fall foliage displays. 

Moosehead Lake Scenic Byway

Maine’s Moosehead Lake Scenic Byway takes you between Greenville and Jackman. The main draw of the 59-mile long Byway is Maine’s largest lake, Moosehead Lake, which is visible between the trees. From the Byway, you’ll also see Mount Kineo, Borestone Mountain, forests, the smaller Brassua Lake, the Moose River, gorges, ponds, waterfalls, cliffs, a covered bridge, and wildlife, including the occasional moose.

Old King’s Highway

Old King’s Highway, better known as Route 6A, runs the length of Massachusetts’ Cape Cod from Sagamore to Provincetown. The 62-mile long coastal highway takes you past beaches, museums, sea captains’ homes, Pilgrim churches, cranberry bogs, farmlands, lighthouses, and a wildlife sanctuary. Old King’s Highway was originally part of the Cape Cod Bay Trail, which the Pilgrims and the indigious Wampanoag used to travel between Provincetown and Plymouth. 

Scenic Route 100 Byway

Often called Vermont’s Main Street, the Scenic Route 100 Byway traverses along the Green Mountain National Forest between Newport and Wilmington. The 216-mile Byway is called the Skier’s Highway as it provides access to Mount Snow and Stowe. While the snow capped  Mount Snow and Mount Mansfield make for a scenic winter road trip, spring, summer, and autumn also provide much beauty along the Byway, with lakes, charming villages, rivers, hiking and biking trails, waterfalls, and forests. You’ll also pass the Calvin Coolidge State Historic Site, the Vermont Country Store, the Alchemist and Long Trail Breweries, and Ben & Jerry’s Ice Cream Factory.

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