Road Scholar cycling tour
of the scenic Massachusetts North Shore

Proposed 2015 tour: An ecotourism experience

Ecotourism helps participants experience an area's unique heritage and natural environment through small-scale, low-impact educational and recreational activities.

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

This proposed multisport tour is newly revised for 2015 and is is designed for experienced cyclists and fit adults who are able to cycle from 20 to 40 miles a day at a moderate pace (about 11 miles per hour average for the day). Participants on our tours generally range in age from their 50'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.

Your host and primary guide for this tour is Gordon Harris, owner of Bike New England, webmaster for North Shore Cyclists and historian for the Town of Ipswich Massachusetts. 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

2015 Tour Dates: June, August and September, to be announced
$979 (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.

Road Scholar North Shore Multisport Cycling Tour

Cycling, kayaking and hiking along the ocean and rivers

Revised for 2015 with multisport activities (draft)

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.

Sunday Day 1: Ipswich

  • 1:00 - 3:00 pm: Check-in at the Ipswich Inn and Kaede Inn
  • 4:00 pm: Bicycle ride to Jeffreys Neck and Labor in Vain Road. (View route)
  • First evening at two inns in Ipswich . Dinner at the Ipswich Inn.
  • Total cycling: 10 miles

River Road in TopsfieldMonday Day 2: Essex :

  • Morning: Cycle on backroads to Essex
  • Kayaking with Essex River Basin Adventures (ERBA) for a two-three hour tour of the beautifully scenic Essex River Basin . Explore nature and discover wildlife kayaking around islands or within the winding salt marshes. (Perfect for the beginner or intermediate paddler). Kayaks and guides are included.
  • Lunch at Farnham's in Essex
  • Afternoon ride: West Gloucester and Conomo Point cycling loop
  • Afternoon option (short route): Visit the Shipbuilding museum and return to Ipswich after lunch.
  • Second evening at two inns in Ipswich .
  • Dinner at the Ipswich Inn.
  • Total cycling miles for the day:

Tuesday Day 3: Bike, Kayak and Hike the Ipswich River

  • Morning: bike to Foote Brothers Canoes for 2 hours of canoeing on the Ipswich River .
  • Lunch: continue cycling to Topsfield for lunch at the Topsfield Market
  • Afternoon: continue to the Ipswich River Sanctuary for a 3 mile hike along the estuary and over glacial eskers.
  • Optional afternoon ride: Danvers Rail Trail, return along River Road and Perkins Row.
  • Third evening at two inns in Ipswich .
  • Dinner at the Ipswich Inn
  • Total activity for the day:
  • Cycling 24 miles (view ride)
  • canoeing/kayaking 2 hours
  • hiking 1.5 hours.

canoeing on the Ipswich RiverWednesday Day 4: Crane Beach (half day)

  • Morning: bike to Crane Beach (view ride)
  • Beach and dune walk with guide Gordon Harris (view trails)
  • Option: Visit the Crane Castle with guided tour by the Trustees of Reservations
  • Lunch: return to Ipswich for lunch downtown (not included)
  • Early afternoon activity: 1.5 hour Historic Ipswich walking tour with Gordon Harris
  • Afternoon: transfer to Essex Street Inn, and free afternoon and evening in Newburyport .
  • First Evening at the Essex Street Inn.
  • Dinner on our own
  • Total activity for the day:
  • Cycling 10 miles
  • Hiking/ walking on the beach 1.5 hours
  • Historic Ipswich tour with Gordon Harris, 1.5 hours

Thursday Day 5: Plum Island and the Merrimack River

  • Morning: Ride to the Parker River Wildlife Refuge on Plum Island.and view coastal changes with naturalist Bill Sargent.
  • Lunch: Return to Newburyport for lunch at Abraham's Bagels
  • Afternoon: Bicycle ride to West Newbury along the Artichoke Reservoirs and the Merrimack River .
  • Second evening at the Essex Street Inn.
  • Dinner at Not Your Average Joes
  • Total activity for the day:
  • Morning ride, 16 miles (view route)
  • Short walk along the beach at Plum Island with Bill Sargent
  • Afternoon ride, 23 miles (view route)

Road Scholar cycling tourFriday Day 6: The Great Salt Marsh

  • Morning: 8 mile bike ride through Newbury, returning through the Great Salt Marsh
  • Option for 16 mile ride
  • Return by 10 am for checkout.
  • Checkout of Essex Inn by 11 am.
  • Total cycling miles for the day:
  • Short route: 8 miles (view route)
  • Long route: 17 miles (view route)

Bicycles: Although distances are relatively short, all rides are for experienced cyclists capable of maintaining an 11 mph average. Road bikes and fast hybrids are appropriate for this tour.

Rentals: You may bring your own bicycle or rent a "flat bar" hybrid road bike from Gordon Harris, the tour leader. The charge is $100 for the week. Contact Gordon Harris at

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!"
  • "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 Scholar 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!!

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


Bike New England, Ipswich MA Email Bike New England