New England Route 302

Needing some time away (read: leave me alone) I loaded the camping gear on the Sportster and headed toward northern New England. Desiring to explore new highways, I traced my way along unfamiliar route numbers that had the suffix “north” or “east” attached to them. North and west had the potential of landing me in Vermont, and since I was anxious to ditch the black lid strapped to my head, biker friendly New Hampshire and Maine were more desirable destinations.

wild duck camp ground

Wild Duck Camp Ground

After four hours of riding, I found myself along the New Hampshire coast. Since my amphibious Harley Davidson was unavailable, traveling east was no longer an option, and all roads north had my full attention, particularly US Route 1, which I followed for another hour before deciding to set-up camp at Wild Duck Campground in Scarborough Maine. (note: not all campgrounds are biker friendly)

Breaking camp early the next morning, I decided to find Route 302 which begins in Portland Maine. I knew that the 302 cut across Maine and into New Hampshire, but had never explored this highway.

Route 302 also put me in reach of Big Moose Harley Davidson in Portland, where an obligatory stop to add to the tee-shirt collection was in order.

Finally underway, I cleared suburbia and began to enjoy the scenery of a highway that covers almost 200 miles and three states. Traveling¬†northwest along 302 brought me deep into the heart of Maine, a rural landscape that seemed like a treasure chest of pre-smog cars and trucks, a candy store for gear heads that long for gas guzzling V-8’s.

Between the scattering of oversized Hotwheels lay an abundance of fresh water lakes and woods, natures Chuck-E-Cheeze for those of us who like to wet a line and nap in tree stands.

The massive Sabago Lake commands attention, with smaller outlets like Long Lake capping popular Naples, Maine and Moose Pond which beautifully reflects a snow-less Shawnee Peak near Fryeburg Maine, earning opening act billing.Big Moose HD Portland ME

Exiting Fryeburg I traded the “Pine Tree State for the “Live free or Die” state. A wonderful logo for those who still believe in rugged individualism. Crossing into Conway, New Hampshire, another popular tourist destination, I patiently followed Route 302, which mirrored Route 16 for a few traffic drenched miles. Breaking free of Route 16, I closed in on the wooded wonders of the Mount Washington Valley.

It is here that 302 is at the mercy of the valley, winding haplessly northwest along the valley floor, surrounded on all sides by wooded peaks of majesty. I thought about all those who had traveled this road in the past, before the security of cell phones, as mother nature has put the Verizon man out of business in this neighborhood.

crawford notch, nh

Crawford Notch, NH

Devoid of houses, Mount Washington Valley does host several opportunities for hiking, camping and “scenic snapshots” like this one of the Silver Cascade, a natural waterfall that propels from high upon a mountain, over several rock shelves, and onto the valley floor before being channeled under route 302.

Passing through the Twin Mountains, Route 302 changed directions in Littleton New Hampshire, flowing southwest and ultimately crossing the Wells River just outside of Woodsville. The Wells River serves as a natural boundary separating New Hampshire from Vermont, and prior to crossing I stopped to strap on my lid, which was required in Vermont although technically not qualified as it lacked reflective stickers on the right and left sides. I was hedging my best that if my helmet came into question by law enforcement, they would be amused by the stickers that did occupy most of my helmet and let me go with a warning.

The last leg of this trip has Route 302 tracking up and down like a roller coaster through the beautiful Green Mountain State, before finally ending on an upward slope in Montpelier VT.  Reaching the end of my Route 302 journey, a momentary feeling of ambition had me contemplating a return trip northeast along Route 2, which can be gained in Montpelier, Vermont and ends in Bar Harbor Maine, a good 3 hours north of Portland Maine. Ultimately I decided to give the Sportster a rest, and save that trip for another day.