What are the Best Motorcycle Rides the Northeast has to offer?
(Updated to help you plan for the 2024 Riding Season!)
Report based on a full-year of the 2023 motorcycle riding season data of the most popular motorcycle roads in the US's Northeastern region
To produce this report, we looked back at the entire 2023 motorcycle riding season’s data gathered by the MotorcycleRoads.com (McR) web site. This data comes in from the literally millions and millions of page views accessed on McR over the course of a year by various motorcycle riders (over 1 million riders visit motorcycle roads annually). If you are curious as to the details of how the popularity ratings are calculated, see Note 1 at the bottom of this article. Also, we used the US Census Bureau’s definition of the Northeast region (Connecticut, Maine, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New York, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, and Vermont).
The Northeast region, although the oldest region in the USA, is by far the smallest region in terms of square miles (compared to the other three regions) and also has the lowest # of states (9 total). Along with its small geographical size, it also has the smallest average number of registered motorcycle roads per state at 31 (the average number of registered motorcycle roads in for a given region in the US is 42 registered motorcycle rides per state ... putting the Northeast about 11 below average). Don't count this region out however in terms of its ability to host great motorcycle rides! There are numerous areas that are known the world over for their natural beauty and every year this region attracts countless numbers of tourist for its heavenly display of fall colors.
(Note: I personally took my first fall motorcycle trip through New England back in the fall of 2015 and I simply fell in love with the area for its classic Americana feel, wonderful scenery, breathtaking fall colors, and classic architecture!)
In total those 9 Northeastern have 275 registered motorcycle rides across the region, which again, places this region last of all four US regions (see illustration below):
Alright, now we'll stop throwing shade at the beautiful Northeast and start focusing on more of which states are more bountiful in terms of their registered motorcycle roads and what we see is that Pennsylvania maintains its number one position that it has had for years however New York has tightened the competition significantly over the last few years pulling to within 8 (first time NY has been within 10 routes of matching PA's total since MotorcycleRoads.com began tracking the US's best motorcycle roads in 1998). From there the competition drops WAY OFF with the 3rd ranked state being Massachusetts with a total of 29. For a complete view of the number of registered motorcycle road totals for each of the states in the Northeast region, refer to the below bar chart:
Summary of this year’s Top 10 best motorcycle rides in the Northeast rankings:
Moving on from the discussion of quantity of registered motorcycle rides in the US Northeastern states on on to what many motorcycle riders view as much more important - quality of motorcycle rides! The study of the quality of Northeast motorcycle rides (as compared to the overall US's Top 100 motorcycle rides) reveals that only two states in the Northeast have routes that make that prestigious listing - Pennsylvania and New Hampshire (see below):
Now that we see that the Northeast region does not compete well amongst the other four US regions, we need to set the comparisons aside here because as Northeastern motorcycle riders know, there ARE PLENTY of great motorcycle roads in this scenically blessed portion of the USA! And, we've laid in each of those great routes on a map below of the Northeast's Top 10 Motorcycle Roads!
Now let’s go listing by listing of the 10 Best Motorcycle Rides in the Northeast and we'll tell you about what makes those rides so popular ... starting from #10 and working our way to #1 motorcycle ride in the Northeast:
#10 Route 113 Border Cruise - From Gilead To Fryeburg (motorcycle ride in Maine with a small portion in New Hampshire)
Falling back one spot from 9th position last year to #10 this year is a great great motorcycle ride that generally hugs the border of Maine and Hew Hampshire with the vast majority of the route taking place on the Eastern/Maine side of the border. As I mentioned above, in the summary, I took a motorcycle trip in the fall of 2017 (New England in the Fall is NOT over-rated … every rider should experience that at least once) with my Dad. This particular motorcycle route, was hands-down my favorite ride of the entire trip. It simply was magical as it felt like a motorcycle ride that Walt Disney would have created if he was ever in to that kind of thing. From nearly start to finish, my Dad and I rode under a canopy of magnificent fall colors as pristine pavement meandered up and around some of the White Mountains. I will say that the reason it is probably not ranked higher is simply for the fact that it is pretty remote and very few riders are in the area to give it a try. That being said, if I ever head back for another motorcycle ride through New England in the Fall, this will definitely be on my must ride again list!!!
Also falling back 1 slot but this one from #8 to #9 this year is the Mad River Glen ride in northern central Vermont. I personally rode this back in 2015 and I could understand what both all the love and hate this route gets. As twists and turns go, this route has those in spades. However, it also has issues with road condition because of frost heaves that play havoc on the black top. Combine that with the fact that it is not a very traveled road as it is in a remote area (both plusses in my book for great motorcycle riding) it doesn't get all that much love at times from the Vermont road crews and so it can be bumpy if you catch it at a time when the road is starting to go. Having said that, the scenery and the endless turns all with some nice elevation changes made it a very enjoyable ride for me and probably explain why the route is showing back up on the Top 10 listing again. t being said, if I ever head back for another motorcycle ride through New England in the Fall, this will definitely be on my must ride again list!!!
And yet another Northeast motorcycle ride the slipped one position, is the Quabbin Reservoir loop which came in at #7 last year but this year made the list at #8. This ride is just west of the Boston Metro area (west or Worcester) and a nice quaint 60+ mile loop through central MA. This motorcycle ride was submitted way back in 2008 and has accumulated some great reviews and pictures and a respectable 4.38 out of 5-stars rating in that time. As you see in the comments on this route's description page there are a number of nice splinter routes/rides you can take in addition to the loop. And the route has some great stops along the way so it's one of those rides where scenery is not the only thing you can enjoy about it. Yes, the scenery will be a high point as the reservoir is visible for much of the way.
Last time we published the Top 10 motorcycle rides in the Northeast, this route had the biggest jump from 9 to 6 but this year it slipped just one spot to #7. This motorcycle ride was submitted by Herbro back in 2011 and travels through the Wharton State Forest and is overall a nice quite country road. However, like a lot of suggested motorcycle rides on MotorcycleRoads.com, there is an eclectic little twist to this ride … it comes with a unique little opportunity to take in some scenery that most riders probably have never seen before: cranberry bogs. These are apparently owned by the Ocean Springs company and end up in bottles and glass around America as different forms of cranberry juice! Besides that the route is universally described as a rare escape from the hustle & bustle of many other NJ roads and one rider/commenter state that “This is the best area to ride in South Jersey. This particular loop is one of my favorites.” Overall, it doesn’t exude some of the excitement you get from a lot of top motorcycle roads but I’m happy that New Jersey has a route that made the Top 10 and hope some of you get a chance to check this ride out and leave some comments to tell the rest what you thought!
Finally we get to a route that went the other direction and instead of falling back had actually moved up between last year and this year. It is a New York shoreline motorcycle ride and it is one of those “surprising city routes” that most people would never think could exist inside the confines of a large metropolitan area such as New York … but it does! This one is on Long Island and the author has done a beautiful job of writing a great description of this ride on MotorcycleRoads.com so you’ll know exactly what to expect. The ride includes a section with a drawbridge that near Oyster Bay and hugs the shoreline for many stretches. As can be expected, this shore run also offers access to great sea-food restaurants as well as other great tourism opportunities you would expect on a coastal setting. So if you are a rider in the NY City metro area and haven’t tried the Long Island North Shore motorcycle road, get over to Long Island and enjoy this 60-mile shoreline drive!
Slipping one spot this year from last year's #3 spot to this year's #4 spot is a great ride with a bit of a notorious name - “Route 666 – One Hell of a Ride!” This PA motorcycle ride is found up in the Northwest corner of the state, driving the Alleghany mountains, with a lot of scenery and twistees The scenery includes rock formations, babbling creaks, and bridges all on a on a meandering path … I like how the author describes the drive enjoyment: “every bit of its 30 miles are covered with banked turns and abrupt, small elevation changes. There's even the ‘cork screw’ downhill turn section about halfway through.” So, if you can get to Northeastern PA you’ll be treated to an exciting twisty motorcycle ride with a notorious name.
By far the biggest excitement and shake up from last year to this year is the emergence of a new PA route to the Top 10 list. You see, this route has never made the Top 10 list and yet, this year it not only made the list but zoomed up to the #4 spot (something that is nearly unheard of on MotorcycleRoads.com!). Not only is it in the Top 10 of the Northeast, but impressively it is also the #2 most popular motorcycle ride in all of Pennsylvania which is saying a lot considering PA is the most dominant motorcycle road state in the US's Northeast. The ride not only offers beautiful scenery but is particularly challenging of a ride with a recent ride reviewer stating - "This combo of Gold-Mine Road and Pa 125 to Shamokin is one of the most challenging roads in PA ... there are quite few tight switchbacks, elevation changes, sweepers and some wide open spaces." …
The “Kanc” is the only non-Pennsylvania route to vie for the #1 route in the Northeast year after year. This year it settles in at #3 and I'm happy to see it not only for the sake of having another state's route give Pennsylvania route's a run for their money but also because this was one my favorite routes I've ever driven. It was part of the routes I drove on that fall trip to New England with my Dad and it was a highlight of the trip. The timing of our ride with the fall colors was near perfect, the condition of the road was great, the only issue we had was this road attracts “leaf peepers” from all over so there was a fair amount of traffic to contend with. But the scenic beauty and the nice winding roads definitely overcame any congestion issues and it was a great ride as we were treated to fabulous fall colors the whole way and a lot of great places to pull over, snap pictures that can't help but become some of your favorites ever taken, and/or even take a small hike to a nearby stream or scenic overlook. Overall, the Kanc is a classic Northeastern motorcycle ride that if you combine with the fall colors, can be a once in a lifetime motorcycle ride for you.
As you realize by reading this year's guide (and basically the many previous year's guides to the Top 10 motorcycle roads in the Northeast), Pennsylvania is a dominating state in the area of great motorcycle rides. And, as you can imagine in a state with such great roads, the competition for the #1 spot can be fierce. This year shows a good example as the two perennial favorites in the Keystone State has flip-flopped and last year's #1 road has this year fallen to #2. As such US Highway 30 is the second best motorcycle ride in PA lies in southern PA between Harrisburg and Pittsburgh and covers a 40-mile stretch of US Highway 30. Like a lot of rides on MotorcycleRoads.com, this route has some historical significance as it (Highway 30) is named after our Great President Lincoln as it was this road that he took to Gettysburg, PA to deliver the Gettysburg Address in Nov 19, 1863 as it was essentially the turning point of the US Civil War. Check out the great photos posted on McR and you’ll see this route offers some incredible scenery, mountain riding, and access to a great slice of American history … you’ll get a feel why this route has 30 Rider Reviews on McR and why it currently is rated at 4.38 out of 5 and the #1 motorcycle ride in the Northeast!
Keep its #1 spot in the Top 10 this year and also the best motorcycle ride in Pennsylvania is a route you really need to settle in to drive as it's a bit of a long one at 378-miles in total. Being that this route is longer and its offers less of the tighter turns you would find in some of the other routes listed here and more so presents riders with nice sweepers (still a lot of fun though!). And so you know for a route like this to rise to the #1 spot in a motorcycle riding blessed state like PA, there must be some other great things about it than simply riding excitement. The Grand Army of the Republic Highway – Route 6 PA motorcycle ride has been on McR for a lot of years now as it was registered way back in 2004 and as such has accumulated a lot of great photos and comments that you really should check out to get a feel for just how strong of a ride this could be for you. These 378-miles will bring riders across much of northern Pennsylvania and treat them to great scenery as well as many slow and peaceful drives through some vintage old-town USA communities.
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Note 1: All facts and figures below were gathered during early Jan 2019 and will change over time as new motorcycle roads are added to the collection.
Note 2: How were these popularity ratings calculated?
A motorcycle road’s popularity can be based on a wide variety of factors. Our analysis considered some obvious indicators of motorcycle road popularity such each roads’ “Rider Rating” scores (star ratings) and which motorcycle road description pages were visited the most. But, the analysis dug deeper and looked at some less obvious yet valuable indicators of a motorcycle road’s popularity such as how often a given motorcycle road was added to riders’ “To Ride” lists, how often a given motorcycle road was added to riders’ “Rode it” lists and enthusiasm indicators such how often photos and/or videos were uploaded for a given road and which roads are attracting the most buzz among motorcycle roads indicated by those roads that are receiving the most number of new/recent comments. For the sake of being consistent and as objective as possible we use a popularity algorithm that “crunches those number” and allows us to develop a ranking of the popularity of each of the motorcycle roads used as a basis for this guide.
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