6/29/2012

Mothers for Daughters, West Dover Loop

93
2 hours, 37 minutes
 Twisty,Cruising
View from Dorr Fitch Road, Dover VT View from Dover Hill Road

I first rode this route as part of the Mothers for Daughters benefit ride in May of 2012. The route has a bit of everything: low speed roads through tight villages, fast sweepers, views and good twisty sections. There is an optional dirt segment, passable by street bikes, for the more adventurous. Brattleboro and Bellows Falls offer good stopping points for gas, food or other supplies. It is also a good route for a small or large group.

The loop begins on VT-100 in Dover – perfect if you’re staying at the Gray Ghost Inn. Head south on route 100 until you pass the Mount Snow Marketplace and the Valley View Saloon on your right. Look for Dorr Fitch Rd, leading left up a hill into a residential area. Bear left onto Dorr Fitch Rd.

Dorr Fitch road leads through the back roads of Dover. The road changes its name to Dover Hill Road somewhere along the way, but you’ll never notice: just follow the pavement in front of you.

The road is mostly 35-45Mph, with some faster 50 mph sections. It is has plenty of twists and evaluation changes to keep you interested, but nothing is overly technical. There are nice views to the east at the high point on the road and you’ll pass through a covered bridge.

Covered bridge on Dover Hill Road Covered Bridge on Dover Hill Road

Approximately 7-8 miles from your turn onto Dorr Fitch there is a sign warning of a sharp turn in 1 mile. While its good to heed warnings, this one seems more appropriate for winter driving than summer motorcycling. The turn is a sharp 25 Mph lefthander. The pavement is grippy and the turn should not be a problem as long as you set your corner speed early.

Continue following Dover Hill Road (now called simply “Dover Road”) until you reach a covered bridge. Ride through the covered bridge. Immediately after the bridge, the world’s smallest road sign points right to VT-30. Take this right. You will be rewarded with a good set of 35-45 Mph twisties before reaching VT-30.

If you miss the right turn, no worries: going straight ahead will take you to 30 as well. You will miss-out on a fun section of road, but you won’t be lost.

Turn right and head south on VT-30 for 13 miles. Route 30 is fast and open here, running along the West River. The river provides some nice views through this section, which ends in Brattleboro.

View from route 30
View from route 30

Route 30 ends in Brattleboro at an intersection which can be confusing. Immediately before the intersection, there is a small village green. Stay left through the intersection and follow signs for VT-9 East/US Route 5 North.

Make a sharp left turn onto US Route 5 North (a.k.a. Calvin Coolidge Memorial Highway – though I doubt anyone knows this name). If you find yourself on a congested stretch of road that looks like eastern Massachusetts, you have made the correct turn.

Follow VT- 9 East/US 5 North for approximately 2 miles through several traffic lights. Just past a Friendly’s Ice Cream store on the right, routes 9 and 5 part at a rotary. Take the first right onto VT- 9 East. You will quickly cross a bridge and enter into New Hampshire.

Follow Route 9 East for approximately 5.6 miles. Take a left onto NH Route 63. Route 63 is a pleasant country road, shady, winding and wooded. Watch for driveways with limited sight lines.

After about 8 miles, NH-63 merges into NH-12. NH-12 is a fast road with 50 - 55 Mph speed limits and a section of divided highway. Follow NH-12 for approximately 10 miles.

In Wapole NH, you will pass the State Line Grocery store on your right. Route 12 will curve around to the left and you will pass a Beverage Store. At the next traffic light, take a left and cross the Connecticut river onto Arch Bridge Street in Bellows Falls, VT.

At the light, take a left onto Rockingham Street. Follow Rockingham Street to downtown Bellows Falls, where you will find a variety of shops and restaurants.

The Miss Bellows Falls Diner, located on Rockingham Street, is a traditional diner where you can get good food at reasonable prices. The diner – built in the late 1920’s and moved to Bellows Falls during the 1940’s -- has the added attraction of begin on the National Register of Historic Places.

There is on street parking on Rockingham Street in downtown Bellows Falls. This is a great time to get off the bike and take a walk around. Bellows Falls has many worthwhile shops and restaurants.

When you’re finished in Bellows Falls, continue down Westminster Street (Rockingham Street becomes Westminster Street in the down town area). Just past the Rockingham Public Library you will come to a fork in the road (there is a Shell gas station on the right). Get in the right lane and continue straight onto Vermont Route 121. Head west, out of town, on Old Terrace Road.

Just outside of Bellows Falls, VT-121 has some nice curves on grippy pavement. Follow 121 to Saxons River. Here you have two choices: option 1 has a short dirt section through a nice wooded area. Option 2 is paved.

To follow option 1, turn left onto VT-35 South (Athens Road). Follow VT-35 to Townsend, where there is a town green with old shade trees and benches.

To follow option 2, continue on VT- 121, past the VT- 35 left turn off. Route 35 North and Route 121 West are the same road here. Continue straight to Grafton, VT, where VT- 35 North turns right. Continue straight on VT-121. Turn left onto Grafton Road. Follow Grafton road to Townsend and the town green.

View from Townsend Green
Townsend Green

At the town green, turn right onto VT- 30. Route 30 is fast sweeper road, with good pavement and rolling hills through nice woods. Route 30 follows the West River, creating turns with a nice fast flow. The Scott covered bridge is on the left-hand side, just before the Townsend Dam.

Follow VT-30 six miles to East Jamaica and the intersection of VT-100 South. Turn left onto Route 100, cross a bridge over the West River, and head south on 100.

Route 100 follows the contours of the Wardsboro Brook here, creating some twisty bits through Wardsboro. In the spring of 2012 damage from Tropical Storm Irene was evident in the brook and in low lying sections of town. Large collections of boulders lined the stream and there are houses with obvious flood damage.

After passing through Wardsboro, continue south on 100 and enjoy the good pavement and a fast pace until you have completed the loop.

West River from Scott Bridge
West River from Scott covered bridge

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