Cycling Tour of the Massachusetts North Shore

senior cyclistsEach summer Bike New England hosts scenic bicycle tours of the historic Massachusetts North Shore based in historic Ipswich Massachusetts. Our 30-45 mile scenic rides visit some of the most beautiful and historic areas in New England. This tour is designed for active cyclists who can average 11-12 mph while riding, although we will stop frequently to explore local attractions. In addition to receiving route maps and cue sheets, you will be led by one or two guides offering options for distance and speed. During our rides we offer suggestions to help participants become more comfortable with their bikes, including seat height, shifting, road safety, climbing technique, etc.

A version of this tour is offered each summer through Bike New England for Road Scholar.  Email tour leader Gordon Harris at or call (978) 979-6598 to arrange this tour for your own group.

Dates: Jun 15 -Jun 20 and Sep 21- Sep 26, 2014

View the trailer of the film This Perfect Place: A Natural History of the Massachusetts North Shore, created by Kristina Lindborg. Detailed Itinerary:

Elderhostel bike tourDay 1, Sunday: Jeffrey's Neck. You can check in at the Ipswich Bed and Breakfast and Kaede Bed and Breakfast after 1 pm. At 4:00 we'll take a short ride to Jeffrey's Neck, crossing the Great Salt Marsh and enjoying a modest climb with a spectacular view of Plum Island, Cape Ann, and the Atlantic. Dinner tonight is downtown, followed by a brief "Get Acquainted" session at the inn. View ride

Day 2, Monday: Historic Salem After breakfast at the inn, we head out past scenic meadows on an easy ride through neighboring Hamilton. Crossing the harbor to historic Salem, we stop for a break at the Salem Visitors Center, run by the National Park Service. After lunch at Red's Sandwich Shop, we'll spend a couple of hours in town so that you have the chance to walk in the historic Chestnut St. neighborhood, visit the Salem Maritime National Historic Site and the Friendship (a reconstruction of a 171-foot three-masted Salem East Indiaman built in 1797), the Salem Witch Museum, or the House of Seven Gables. Our return takes us through historic downtown Beverly and Hamilton. for a 32 mile total for the day. This evening we'll view the Ipswich Riverwalk Mural by artist Alan Pearsall before taking in the local fare at the Choate Bridge Pub. View ride

Elderhostel North Shore tourDay 3, Tuesday: The Merrimack River, Newburyport and Plum Island. This full day ride takes us through the Great Salt Marsh to the Merrimack River, where we stop for a break at Mass Audubon's Joppa Flats. The ride continues to Plum Island for a loop through the Parker River Wildlife Sanctuary After lunch in Newburyport we begin our return cycling past historic colonial homes and salt hay fields in Newbury. Today's ride is a relatively flat 42 miles, with the option of a 35 mile ride by starting in nearby Rowley. View ride

Day 4, Wednesday: The Ipswich River Ride (half day option) These are our favorite local cycling roads, winding through the area's many state forests. We start out cycling past the Trustees of Reservations property Appleton Farms and a couple of miles on the paved bike path at Bradley Palmer State Park. After stopping to visit the Ipswich River Sanctuary on beautiful Perkins Row, we continue on to tiny Topsfield, a classic New England village. Our return takes us on quiet paved roads that wind through Willowdale State Forest. Our ride is 20-30 miles. View ride

Some participants make this a "half day", so they can take the commuter rail into Boston, spend more time in Salem or hike in our wonderful nature preserves.

cycling the North ShoreDay 5, Thursday: Cape Ann: Today's ride takes us along wooded back roads until we reach Manchester by the Sea on Cape Ann. After a short break, we'll continue along the rocky Atlantic shoreline through tiny Magnolia on our way to Gloucester, a classic New England seaport town. We'll have lunch at Stage Fort Park before continuing to the Fisherman's memorial statues along the waterfront. Our route circles back past glacial erratics and through the salt marsh to historic Essex, one of colonial America's first ship-building town, where we stop to visit the Essex Shipbuilding Museum. Essex has over thirty antique shops within a mile of each other all housed in antique buildings. View 37 mile ride

Long distance cyclists may wish to continue out to the Eastern Point lighthouse in Gloucester and cycle along the rocky shores of Atlantic Road and back on the town's quaint Main Street. (This requires a few miles on busy city streets) View 46 mile option

Day 6, Friday: Crane Beach: For our last morning together, we ride out Argilla Rd. to Trustees of Reservations property Crane Beach for a walk along the shore. On the way back we like to stop at Russell Orchards to sample their home-made munchies and cider. We return by 10 a.m. for room checkout and our farewells. View ride

Gordon Harris of Bike New EnglandReviews from previous North Shore tours:
"This was an outstanding trip. Thank you Gordon for the wonderful rides."
"Wonderful biking area and knowledgeable guide made this program outstanding"
"Gordon was helpful and patient while explaining the mechanics of shifting to me."
"Gordon did the best trip we have been on. He had everything covered." "Gordon is so well prepared not only for the biking but on the history, geography etc of the area."
Jamis Coda bicycle"Gordon was always helpful to everyone, flexible well informed, good natured and sensitive to everyone's needs."
"Very enjoyable experience: Gordon was an excellent guide and teacher. He planned the daily rides very well. Alternate routes and plans were thorough throughout. We appreciated the effort he put forth. Nothing was left to chance.

Bike Rentals: You may use your own road or hybrid-road bicycle. Mountain bikes are not appropriate for this tour. A few Jamis Coda road bikes with straight handlebars are available for rent with our tours, $100 for the week. Helmets are available, although it is recommended to bring your own. Please email tour leader Gordon Harris to reserve a bike.

Essex National Heritage Area

Our tour explores part of the Essex National Heritage Area, which covers 500 square miles of eastern Massachusetts to the New Hampshire border and hundreds of historical sites, miles of intact landscapes, glistening coastal regions and lifetimes of rich experiences that chronicle the history of our region and of our nation.


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