Old Roads

old road

The house I worked on last week was on a driveway that initially seemed like a continuation of the dead-end dirt road I took to get there. But that driveway ended at the house, and it would have continued on if the driveway itself had followed the old road. The next time I drove there, I looked around and found this track off into the woods near where the paved driveway began.

New England is full of abandoned roads like this one. They intrigue me and make me want to follow them. Often, they’re just not maintained, but still public rights of way. They can range from being overgrown and muddy paths that lead to someone’s back yard to forgotten ways that join two dead-end roads and which leave me with a sense of discovery.


About swampyankeecyclist

I'm Andy Engel, just a middle-aged, middle-class guy from Roxbury, Connecticut. I've been married to my best friend since 1988, and we have two grown sons. I like riding bikes, and my biggest accomplishment is the 180K D2R2. I own 5 bikes but my go-to rides are a 2016 GT Grade gravel and commuter bike and a 2016 Specialized 650b hardtail mountain bike. Additionally, I have a 2000-something carbon-fiber Orbea road bike, a 1990-something Specialized Sirrus that's my old dirt and commuter bike and which now serves as a spare and a trainer bike, and a 1985 Ross Mount Hood MTB. All but the 650b have Brooks saddles. I work from home now, but used to commute 32 miles round trip to work by bike year round. I was a carpenter and still love building things, but regular paychecks, insurance, and vacation time lured me into journalism. I've written a couple of books on carpentry, and I've been an editor at Fine Homebuilding, Fine Woodworking, and Professional Deck Builder magazines. Currently, I manage construction events at the JLC Live and Remodeling Show trade shows. Additionally, my wife and I run Transylvania Guest House, an Airbnb. Find us on Instagram. Come stay with us and I'll show you some great cycling.
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2 Responses to Old Roads

  1. Mike Guertin says:

    One of those old forgotten new england roads goes through my property. When my parents bought the land you could still see the well worn cart tracks and the decaying logs laid tightly packed perpendicular to the roadway where the swampy spots were. As kids we’d follow the network of old roads and cart trails by abandon rubble stone foundations of homes and barns, and along finely set stone walls lining overgrown pastures. And as you note – we’d pop out on a farmer’s driveway two or three miles away. Now most of those old roads and cart tracks have become subdivisions and the owners know nothing of the local history that used to pass through their front yard.

  2. Mike, the preserve where I rode last night only has a few developed paths. A lot of what’s there consists of those old roads. It amazes me how those roads were laid out to straight up the hills. It’s one of the hardest places I ride.

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