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Posted by Massachusetts Office of Travel & Tourism

by Paul Jahnige, Director of the Massachusetts Office of Outdoor Recreation

Header photo credit: Seven Cycles

Gravel riding has become increasingly popular in the last few years, and Massachusetts has loads of awesome gravel routes and events to explore. Somewhere between road riding and mountain biking, gravel riding offers opportunities to get away from the traffic, explore the wilder sides of our communities, challenge yourself with climbs and mixed terrane, and get a little closer to both the natural world and your riding partner.

Massachusetts residents and visitors alike can find amazing gravel experiences across the state. Most routes include a mix of some paved road with a variety of packed dirt, mud, and gravel surfaces.

Whether it is a ride along the Battle Road Trail between Lexington and Concord, a circuit around Myles Standish or Freetown Fall River State Forests, a circumnavigation of the whole Quabbin Reservoir or a tour of the Berkshire Highlands, Massachusetts has something for riders of all abilities.

An empty gravel road through green trees, lined with small stone walls.

The Battle Road Trail (Photo: National Park Service)

Suggestions for Finding Routes and Rides

To find recommended routes and rides, here are a few tips:

Explore one of the many ride apps like Ride With GPS, Strava or Gravel Map. On these sites, you can explore routes with free subscriptions, and follow other riders’ paths.

Connect with a local cycle club or bike shop. Clubs and many bike shops often host rides or can at least suggest good ones. Massachusetts clubs include Charles River Wheelers, North Shore Cyclists, New England Expedition Riders, Northampton Cycling Club, and the Berkshire Velo Cycling Club.

Connect with a guide such as Adventure East to join a supported and/or guided trip.

Three bike riders wearing helmets ride down a gravel road during the day.

Riders on the D2R2 (Photo: Franklin land Trust)

Participate in one of Massachusetts’ Spectacular Gravel Events

Massachusetts backroads, especially in western and central parts of the state, host some spectacular gravel events.

Offering 30, 50 and 70 mile routes with names like “The Dirty” and “The Hurty,” The Massochistah, on April 27, 2024 is sponsored by the Northampton Cycling Club. With more than 1,000 feet of vertical for every ten miles of backroads, gravel, dirt, mud and possibly snow and ice (although probably not this year), the Massochistah provides plenty of adventure and suffering for everyone.

Pedal 2 Pints is organizing a gravel bicycle tour on June 15, 2024 in the Connecticut River Valley that visits many fine local breweries (and hop yards!). Spend the day cycling gorgeous routes, visiting local breweries, eating good food, and meeting new friends.

The 13th JAM Fund Gran Fundo will be held on July 14, 2024, with routes of various distances. Good riding, good food, and good fun, all for a good cause. Funds go to a development program making young cyclists dreams come true.

The Deerfield Dirt-Road Randonnee (D2R2) was conceived in the 1990s as a favorite dirt-road loop in the hilltowns of Franklin County, Massachusetts. The ride has grown to offer a wide range of courses, and has something to offer everyone, from novices to the world’s strongest riders. D2R2 prides itself on being a community, not a competition, and has attracted a loyal and ever-growing following. Hailed as one of the hardest, most beautiful, most fun, most traffic-free, most unique, and overall best rides ever, this event in a fundraiser for the Franklin Land Trust and will be held on August 17, 2024.

The Pan Mass Challenge (PMC), organized as a fundraiser for cancer research and treatment at Dana-Farber Cancer Institute, now offers the PMC Unpaved, a gravel bike ride over the scenic backroads of the Berkshires, September 28, 2024.

Find even more Massachusetts Gravel Events.