Cycling and Seasonal Delights Along Massachusetts Route 117

Cycling through rural Massachusetts
Cycling through rural Massachusetts Brent Solderberg
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Drive Route 117 outside of Boston, from Waltham to Leominster on a beautiful fall day and you're guaranteed to see cyclists, lots of them. This 30-mile stretch of winding road has plenty of classic fall sightseeing along the way. Take a day for an out-and-back journey with 60-miles of riding and a cornucopia of unique and yummy refueling stops.

The route starts off of Main Street in Waltham Center, about 12 miles from downtown Boston. You can park in Waltham or wherever you choose to pick up the route. Otherwise, look for the lot in Lincoln just past the intersection of Route 117 West and Route 126.

From Waltham to Weston you’ll pass by the legendary Cedar Hill Dairy Joy ice cream stand of Cedar Hill Dairy Joy—the first of many ice cream shops along this route. When you head out from Dairy Joy you’re immediately surrounded by beautiful red, orange, and pink trees on both sides, with the occasional house breaking the colorful coverage.

Cedar Hill Dairy Joy is the first of many tough decisions for your day of riding--do you start the ride with an ice cream cone or save it for the end?
Cedar Hill Dairy Joy is the first of many tough decisions for your day of riding--do you start the ride with an ice cream cone or save it for the end? Laura 47

Continue a few miles further west and you'll come to Drumlin Farm wildlife sanctuary in Lincoln. Visit animals in the sanctuary, experience life on a working farm and stretch your legs on the Farm's trails.

There is a fantastic view of the Sudbury River to the left right before you get to Concord. It's not uncommon to see locals fishing on the river as you ride by.

Down the road past Sudbury River on your left and over the small stone bridge, Route 117 takes cyclists into the town of Concord, the home of Verrill Farm just off of 117 at Sudbury and Wheeler Roads. This little gem offers fresh produce, all grown within two miles of the farm, along with a variety of baked goods, meats, and gourmet items.

Twelve miles from Waltham, riders arrive in Maynard, home to Erikson’s Ice Cream. The legendary ice cream stand, which has been around since 1937, rotates through more than 50 flavors and has seasonal toppings like hot apple and cinnamon sauce for the fall.

Continue along Route 117, and you’ll arrive at another legendary roadside attraction just past the state highway’s junction with interstate 495—Colonial Candies and Ice Cream in Bolton. For nearly 100 years Colonial Candies has sold handmade chocolate, and it also has a make-your-own sundae bar.

Three miles down the road at 117’s intersection with Route 110, is Bolton Orchards, which truly makes this route the epitome of a fall day. Bolton Orchards started out as a peach orchard in 1935, and has evolved into a country store of sorts with a farm stand, deli and ice cream store. They also have 25 varieties of apples and their autumnal claim to fame, clear golden russet apple cider.

If you want to pick your own apple snack, be on the lookout for Bolton Spring Farms, George Hill orchards, and Carver Hill Orchards, all just off Route 117.

You'll pass by the Nashoba Valley Winery in Bolton, with 26 varieties of wine, hand crafted beers, distilled spirits, and a beautiful peach orchard on your way to the end of Route 117, and your turnaround point, in Leominster.

Explore the orchard at Nashoba Valley Winery
Explore the orchard at Nashoba Valley Winery Nashoba Valley Winery

Once you make it to Leominster, retrace your route back to Waltham. With so many options fueling options, be sure to visit different ones for the return trip. And see if you can answer the question of how many ice cream cones it takes to go from Waltham to Leominster and back!

For more cycling routes in the Boston area, check out these experiences

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