Hard to believe it has only been a few weeks since our world closed down, and sadly, we are conservatively looking at least 4 more weeks until the stay at home order is lifted. The good news is that the weather is getting warmer, and there are lots of great opportunities to safely enjoy the outdoors. For me, this has been a time to pull out "The Diesel." Six year ago, our family decided a 42 day Pacific Coast tour from Vancouver to Tijuana was a good idea. We needed some bikes and after some discussions with Dover Cyclery, the Muirwoods 29'er was our choice. We all named our bikes, and mine was tagged "The Diesel". Perfect bike for touring the seacoast.
The Durham Point-Lee Hook Loop
The silver lining of Covid-19 is it forced me to revisit a great local ride. For lack of a better name, I call it the Durham Point-Lee Hook Loop. The 17 mile loop follows Durham Point Road/Bay Road and provides some great views of Great Bay and the Lamprey River.
Durham Point Road/Bay Road is a scenic road that bends and twists its way from Durham to Newmarket. It has a drop that rivals Disney theme park rides and offers some really spectacular views of Great Bay. I start with a short ride through Wedgewood that reaches Durham Point Road at Sunnyside Road.
After around 6 miles, Bay Road/Durham Point Road ends near the Macallen Dam in Newmarket. This spot offers the first view of the Lamprey River. Take a left onto route 108, cross the bridge, and then take a right on Elm. This bypasses downtown and offers a less congested way out of town. Just past the Riverside Cemetery, take a left on Packers Fall Road.
Packers Fall ends at a junction with route 152. Take a right and checkout Newmarket High School on the way towards Lee. This section can be a bit of a grind it out part of the loop. The road is not in the greatest shape and it can have traffic. Complaints aside, there are some nice stretches and you pass the Audubon's Follet Wildlife Sanctuary.
Just after a hill, you take a right onto Lee Hook Road and begin a really nice section of the loop.
Lee Hook takes you past farms and campgrounds. If you take it all the way to Lee Center, you get another fantastic view of the Lamprey. The wimpy route turns right at Little Hook Road and skips two big hills and the view.
At the top of the hill, bear right and head down Wiswall Road. After around a mile, the road narrows to a single lane, and there is a great view of the Lamprey and Wiswall Dam. Just after the bridge on the right hand side, a small parking lot marks the entrance to John Hatch Park. If you are a fisherman, this is a good place to stop. When Wiswall dead-ends, take a right onto Packers Fall.
Just after you pass a vacant former B&B, take a sharp left onto Bennet Road. On the right, there is a small lot and access to the water. This is my last chance to get a view of the lamprey. In my humble option, the top of the first hill is the best spot. Down the road just past the railroad overpass is Doe Farm . It is a town managed property that has walking trails to the Lamprey.
Bennet ends at a junction with 108. I cross and make a right on Longmarsh to head home.
If you stay on 108, you will see the Lamprey one more time at the Mill Pond.
In case you missed it, here is a link to the Durham Point Lee-Hook Loop map. If the stay at home order has you searching for some biking inspiration, check out the Crazy Guy on a Bike website. Super cool journals of peoples' biking adventures. If you are interested, but lack a bike, check out Durham's local shop Oyster River Cycle and Sport on Jenkins Court. Got a great route? Email me some photos.
Stay safe and don't forget the sunblock.