While hikers along the Appalachian Trail have to struggle up and over several mountaintops, we drivers get to amble along a few miles to the west, following scenic Route 10 along the east banks of the lazy Connecticut River. Winding past pastures and cornfields, Route 10 is a nonstop pleasure to drive (or cycle); uneventful, perhaps, but giving seemingly endless pastoral views framed by white rail fences, occasional farmhouses, and the voluptuous peaks that rise to the east and west. The first hamlet you reach along this part of Route 10, North Haverhill, is a real museum piece, with a necklace of distinctive colonial-era homes flanking an oval town green.
On Post Pond, the fine restaurant, rustic lodge, and cabins of Loch Lyme Lodge (800/423-2141, $105 and up) have been welcoming generations of New Englanders since 1946. Swim, paddle, or float out on the small lake, which has an idyllic location between the mountains and the river.
Farther south, 10 miles north of Hanover, the tidy town of Lyme presents yet another Instagram-worthy scene, with a Civil War Monument standing at the east of a slender green, a large church at one end and an equally large stable behind it.