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  1. #1
    Join Date
    Jan 2013
    Location
    Nottingham,England
    Posts
    8

    Default Boston to Ottawa,Canada in the Fall

    We are planning to fly from the UK to Boston in September to do some family history research near Ottawa and plan to start the trip with a leisurely drive up through New Hampshire and Vermont for a few days to enjoy the fall colours.We will end the Canada part of our trip in Halifax,Nova Scotia and then plan to drive back to Boston by way of Maine and Portland. Our trip duration is likely to be around 18 days
    There are a number of locations that we could visit on the way north from Boston but any recommendations as to the most scenic route and stopover points would be much appreciated. Similarly the best points to cover on the return along the coast to Boston.
    Although it may be too difficult to fit in on this trip, we'd also considered a short detour south from Boston to Cape Cod at either the start or end of our trip. Any thoughts on this?
    With grateful thanks in advance for any advice on what should be a great road trip for us.
    RossM - Nottingham,England

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Mar 2005
    Location
    Tucson, AZ
    Posts
    9,737

    Default Scenic is Not the Trick

    Welcome aboard the RoadTrip America Forums!

    I used to live in northern New England and have stated more than once on these forums that it is next to impossible to find a road there that isn't scenic. The trick, especially in the fall, is to find one that isn't clogged with "leaf-peepers". Timing will help, if you can do most of your driving during the week rather than on weekends. But knowing where the 'back roads' are and sticking to them will be the key.

    For instance: the main roads between Boston and Ottawa would be I-83/I-89 in the U.S. and then QB-133 and Autoroutes 35/10/30/15 through Montréal to the Trans-Canada and ON-417 to Ottawa. Those are all pretty much Interstates/Autoroutes/Motorways and not the best for enjoying New England. Then there are the heavily traveled 'surface routes' such as NH-16 and VT-100 that run north through the White and Green Mountains of New Hampshire and Vermont respectively. Those can be fine, but since they are only two-lane roads they can get clogged up, especially on weekends. The trick is to find little-used roads that go more-or-less in the direction you want and take you through cute towns and offer the occasional vista, historic site, or other attraction.

    But first: After your trans-Atlantic flight, get a good night's sleep somewhere around Logan Airport. Money saving tip: most hotels near major airports will pick you up for free. Don't rent the car on arrival at the airport. that's expensive and you pay for a day you really don't need but get a good night's sleep first and then rent from an off-airport rental location with no extra 'tourist' fees. You can usually drop such a rental off at the airport on your return for no extra charge.

    Some of my personal favorites can be strung together to make a scenic drive on little-used (albeit slower) roads: Take US-1 out of the Logan Airport area to I-95 north into Maine and take the Wells Exit to ME-109/ME-11/ME-5/ME-113 north through Sanford, Cornish and Fryeburg and Evans Notch to Gilead ME. From there head west on US-2 through the Shelburne Birches and along the northern edge of the White Mountains to Jefferson NH and NH-116 to Littleton. Next up, US-302 through Barre (Hope Cemetery is as close to a 'must-see' as there is in this area) to Montpelier and US-2, not I-89, to Burlington VT. Take the ferry over to Port Kent NY and US-9 north along the Lake Champlain shore to Plattsburg. Then it's NY-190/US-11/NY-122/NY-37 west (although US-11 will be marked 'south') to Rooseveltown NY where you'd cross the border into Cornwall, ON, Canada and finally ON-138/ON-417 into Ottawa.

    The above route from Boston to Ottawa is obviously chosen for scenery and to take you through small towns, all the while avoiding traffic as much as possible. There are several worthwhile sites to visit, especially in northern Vermont in Barre, Montpelier, Stow and Burlington. But before we get further down into the weeds it would help to know whether such slower, less-traveled routes appeal to you and whether you want that level of detail in your route descriptions. From your post, I think so, and that you'll have the time for it. For a little more on what I might suggest, have a look at this Trip Report on our RoadTrip from Boston to Nova Scotia last year.

    AZBuck
    Last edited by AZBuck; 01-13-2019 at 03:14 PM.

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Jan 2013
    Location
    Nottingham,England
    Posts
    8

    Default

    That's a really useful reply AZBuck - thanks for the very detailed information and also for the link to your own Nova Scotia road trip.
    We certainly prefer the quieter routes and the level of detail you have provided has meant that I can easily follow the suggested directions on our map.
    One bit of additional detail we have just discovered is that there we have a family link to the area around Belleville,ON so we may consider heading towards there before going on to Ottawa. I see from my map that , after taking the ferry to Port Kent , there are routes west through the Adirondack Mountains. Is taking the route towards Saranac Lake , then to either Ugdensberg or Watertown and crossing into Canada at a point further west than Cornwall a reasonable option? How are the roads through the Adirondacks?
    Thanks again for the excellent detail you have given us and we have already planned part of our drive up through NH and VT using the information you've given us. I guess that this is the advantage of using the knowledge on this great forum.
    Ross

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Mar 2005
    Location
    Tucson, AZ
    Posts
    9,737

    Default That Will Work

    Yes, indeed, you can head from Port Kent through the Adirondacks to a point farther upstream on the St. Lawrence, say the Thousand Islands area, and cross into Canada there on your way to Belleville. It will represent a fairly significant detour from the more direct route from northern New England to Ottawa, but if you want to look into your family's history it might very well be worth it.

    And yes, the roads through the Adirondacks are lovely. For your purposes, I'd suggest the closest to an 'as the crow flies' route from Port Kent to Alexandria Bay NY:
    NY-373/US-9/NY-9N to Jay NY, NY-86 to Saranac Lake, NY-3 to Fine and NY-58 then US-11 south to NY-26 to Alexandria Bay, and finally along the river on NY-12 to I-81 for the crossing over to Canada. ON-401, a freeway/motorway, would then take you to Belleville.

    I've driven portions of the above route, mostly NY-3 through the Adirondacks. It is heavily-wooded low mountains and should be gorgeous in the fall. There are a few shortcuts you could take in specific places, mostly on county roads (CR) which are marked in New York States by blue pentagonal signs with yellow lettering. But I wanted to give you a more easily followed route to start with.

    AZBuck

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Jan 2013
    Location
    Nottingham,England
    Posts
    8

    Default

    Thanks for your very helpful response again and we have decided to take the route through the Adirondacks.Once I have purchased a large scale road map from the London-based specialist map shop I use I'll check out the suggested route and also the CR's which may well be worth us looking out for.

    Although some of our accommodation is already booked we will be tying up our final detailed plan next month and I may come back to you again if there are any final questions.

    We are certainly looking forward to the trip and , if I haven't needed any further details, I will certainly report back on the trip once we return to England in October.

    RossM

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