Road Scholar Cycling Tour
of the historic Massachusetts North Shore

Road Scholar Cycling tourBike New England hosts the Road Scholar bicycle tour of the Massachusetts North Shore, based in historic Ipswich and Newburyport Massachusetts. Our tour visits some of the most beautiful and historic coastal areas in New England.

This tour is offered through Road Scholar and is designed for experienced cyclists who are able to cycle up to 35 miles a day at a moderate pace (about 11 miles per hour average for the day). Alternative unguided activities are suggested for non-cycling guests or participants who are unable to fully participate in the rides.

Participants on our tours generally range in age from their 40's to early 80's. Along the way we stop occasionally to explore local attractions, take photos and enjoy each other's company. In addition to receiving route maps and cue sheets, you will have two guides, one leading and the other "sweeping". Rather than providing van support along the route, all riders are accompanied by a cycling guide. Return by van from the destination location is available by request.

Your host and primary guide for this tour is Gordon Harris, owner of Bike New England, webmaster for North Shore Cyclists and chairman of the Ipswich Historical Commission. He enjoys taking participants on an after-dinner interpretative walk through the historic neighborhoods of Ipswich and Newburyport. For more information or to rent bicycles for this tour email tour leader Gordon Harris at

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

$935 (lodging and meals included)

Click here to sign up at the Road Scholar site for this tour

This Perfect Place: A Natural History of the MA North Shore was created by Ipswich naturalist Kristina Lindborg.

Detailed Itinerary:

Day 1, Sunday: Jeffrey's Neck. Check in at the Ipswich Inn and Kaede Bed and Breakfast after 1 pm. At 4:00 we'll take a 10 mile ride to Jeffrey's Neck, cross the Great Salt Marsh and enjoy a spectacular view of Plum Island, Cape Ann, and the Atlantic. Tonight's group dinner will be followed by a "get acquainted" session at the inn. View route

Elderhostel bike tourDay 2, Monday: Historic Salem. After breakfast at the inns, 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, with a 32 mile total for the day. This evening we'll view the Ipswich Riverwalk Mural with artist Alan Pearsall. View route

Ocean cove and marsh on Cape AnnDay 3, Tuesday: Cape Ann: Today's 30 mile ride takes us along wooded back roads until we reach Manchester by the Sea. After a short break, we'll continue along the rocky Atlantic shoreline in quaint Magnolia, then stop for lunch at Lobsta Land in West Gloucester. Long distance cyclists may wish to continue on their own to Stage Fort Park in Gloucester to view 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 towns. After dinner we enjoy a slide show by local naturalist Bill Sargent. View route

Topsfield bicycle rideDay 4, Wednesday: The Ipswich River, Crane Beach and transfer to Newburyport:

Wednesday is the day we change inns, and is also the suggested free afternoon for alternative activities (see list below). It's also an opportunity to visit the Ipswich Museum and the Whipple House. We check out of the inns before today's rides.

Morning Ride: Ipswich River and Topsfield. Our morning ride winds past the Ipswich River Sanctuary on beautiful Perkins Row to Topsfield, a classic New England village, then returns through Bradley Palmer State Park to Ipswich for a total of 21 miles. View route.

Afternoon Ride: Crane Beach. After lunch participants may wish to cycle 5 miles out to Crane Beach. View route.

In the afternoon we transfer 15 miles by van or personal automobile to the Essex Street Inn in Newburyport MA, a gorgeous small city on the Merrimack River. Check-in is after 3 pm. Enjoy an unscheduled evening in Newburyport.

cycling the North ShoreThursday Day 5: Plum Island and the Parker River Wildlife Refuge. We'll head out this morning for a scenic 6 mile ride that takes us out to America's first national seashore. We make a stop at the Joppa Flats Audubon Center on our return to the inn. View route

Afternoon ride: The Merrimack River: This 23 mile ride takes the Clipper City Rail Trail and continues past the Artichoke Reservoirs and along the Merrimack River to West Newbury. We cross the historic Rocks Village Bridge and return along the north side of the river in Amesbury. Crossing the river again at the Chain Bridge, we ride past elegant Federal era homes on High Street.View route

Friday Day 6: (morning): Newbury and the Great Salt Marsh. This 10 mile ride takes us through historic neighborhoods to the South Green in Newbury. Along the way we pass several historic houses, including the Sweet-Ilsley House circa 1670 built in the late 17th Century. We continue past Old Town Hill into the heart of the Great Salt Marsh before returning to the inn at 10:00, in time for 11:00 am checkout and departure. View route

Bike Rentals: You may use your own road or hybrid-road bicycle. Mountain bikes, city bikes, beach bikes and other heavy or slower bikes are not appropriate for this tour. Jamis Coda, Diamondback Insight, and Villano "flat bar" road bikes with straight handlebars are available for rent with our tours, $100 for the week. Helmets are required and are available, although it is recommended that you bring your own. Please email tour leader Gordon Harris to reserve a bike.

Reviews from previous Road Scholar tours:

  • "You are the best! We had a fantastic adventure"
  • "Thanks for a Great Trip!"
  • "We had a Wonderful Time! Great Riding!"
  • Road Scholar cycling tour"Gordon, you've done a great job! What a wonderful bike outing."
  • "Thanks so much - we loved the trip. You were the Perfect Guides"
  • "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."
  • "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
  • This is a great trip. The bicycling is very scenic, with rolling hills and lots of water views. You will learn about the history for the area as the guides are very knowledgeable and have carefully planned the routes. Both Ipswich and Newburyport are interesting old colonial towns that have retained their character and are fun to explore by bike and on foot. There are plenty of charming restaurants and shops.
  • 'Tis a truly 'top shelf' New England north shore experience. Cycling, seashore and coastal vistas, knowledge of the local history, experience of leadership, resturaunts and then some made for a worthwhile Road Shcolar program.
  • What a fantastic experience did 14 lucky people have over 5 days bicycling around and about Ipswich, Massachusetts. Beautiful scenery, lucky with the weather, fabulous group of fellow travellers, and a wonderful, sensitive, competent, and accomodating leader in Gordon Harris. Do this trip in September if you can--and if not, try next June. You won't regret it!!

Alternative activities on the North Shore for non-cycling participants:

canoeing on the Ipswich RiverExplore the local waterways with Newburyport Whale Watch, Plum Island Eco Tours, Ninth Wave Sailing Charters and Essex River Cruises. Paddle the Ipswich River with Foote Brothers Canoes or kayak in the Essex River Basin with ERBA

Hike scenic trails at the Ipswich River Sanctuary, Appleton Farms, Maudslay State Park and several properties owned by the Trustees of Reservations.

Take in the ocean, dunes and estuaries at Crane Beach in Ipswich and the Parker River Wildlife Refuge on Plum Island.

Spend a day at the world-class Peabody-Essex Museum in Salem. Take the commuter rail to Boston for a tour of the Freedom Trail.

Our tour explores 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.

Click here to sign up at the Road Scholar site for this tour


Bike New England, Ipswich MA Email Bike New England