This is a 5-day tour that goes from the Connecticut shoreline up through State Forests and back down to the Rhode Island shoreline. The roads are mostly quiet and the scenery is gorgeous.
The trip starts and ends in New Haven, with a Metro North ride at either end. Be aware that bikes are not permitted on rush hour trains in either direction on the New Haven line. We started and ended on a weekday, so we had to take a 9:04 train and thus started in New Haven a bit after 11:00. For this reason, we took the flatter of the two Day 1 routes. This stays on Rte. 1 for 11 miles, but there’s a wide shoulder for most of it and traffic was not bad. The original route has a lot of climbing over the second half, including a 13.5% grade. (Both routes are included below.)
The second day is also hilly, but with fabulous scenery. Because of the threat of rain, we did not do the first section through Cockaponsett State Forest, but instead went straight up CT-154 from the Inn to CT-82E and turned right. This cut out about 8 miles and about 600 ft. of climbing. (But if the weather’s nice, I highly recommend the route through Cockaponsett.) There’s one mile of dirt on Salem Rd., but it was in excellent condition and easily done on a road bike. We stayed at the AmericInn a little less than a mile south of the town of Jewett City. For dinner, you can walk back into town where there’s a diner, or you can take the hotel’s free shuttle to one of the casinos to have dinner. The hotel has a guest laundry room.
Day 3 takes beautiful back roads through more state forest. After lunch the roads begin to get busier, but then you turn off onto almost 7 miles of bike path coming into Narragansett. We stayed at a lovely hotel across the street from the ocean and had a terrific dinner at The Coast Guard House just up the street. This is the one hotel where breakfast was not included, but we went to the Crazy Burger on Boon St. for a sumptuous breakfast.
On Day 4, you can either follow the route I’ve included here, or you can just stay on Rte. 1 into Connecticut and make the right onto Flanders Rd. (mile 35.4 on the cue sheet). Because an accident delayed us by a couple of hours, we opted to stay on Rte. 1 and had lunch in Westerly. The early section of Rte. 1 has a wide shoulder and no commercial businesses. It feels like a limited access highway, but bikes are permitted. Once you turn onto Flanders Rd., it’s a very pretty route up to Norwich. Dinner options are somewhat limited – there’s a sports bar/restaurant in the hotel or there’s a Chinese restaurant about a half mile away.
Day 5 is another hilly day, although once you take the ferry across the river, you can go the flatter route down CT-154 to Rte. 1 and cut out about 1000 ft. of climbing. If you have the time, just before the ferry, you can turn right onto CT-431 and follow the signs to Gillette Castle. If you don’t have time for sightseeing, just look back over your right shoulder from the ferry to catch a glimpse of the castle.
cw 10/1/14 Rev. 7/2020