Southern New Hampshire is rich in culture, history, tradition, and beauty. There are vistas here that can knock your socks off – if you know where to look. Visitors to our gorgeous state may head “up north” to take in the sites of the larger lakes and enjoy the mountains, but there is much to be said about the road less traveled in Rockingham County. Just minutes off I-93 is the Robert Frost/Old Stagecoach Scenic Byway. Designated as New Hampshire’s newest Scenic Byway in May 2014, this 43-mile route gives one an opportunity to step back in history.
The Byway consists of two contiguous segments with distinct interpretive themes. The Old Stagecoach Byway begins in Atkinson at the state border and travels northwest along NH Route 121 through Hampstead, Chester, and Auburn to Massabesic Lake. The adjoining Robert Frost Byway follows NH Route 28 and local routes south through Derry village to the Robert Frost Farm State Park and continues along local roads eastward until it reconnects with NH 121 and the Old Stagecoach Byway in Hampstead.
The unifying theme of the joint byway is the history and culture of rural Southern New Hampshire. This includes how it was shaped by the early transportation network of the region – specifically the stagecoach service that connected Boston and Concord. More broadly, the byway celebrates New Hampshire’s rural landscape and communities – the villages, farmsteads, orchards, and denizens brought to life in the writing of Poet Laureate and former Derry resident Robert Frost.
You can absorb views along a 200-plus year-old stagecoach route that once clip-clopped from Boston to Concord, seeing much the same landscape – fields, vistas, stone walls, and a significant amount of surviving historic buildings – as stagecoach passengers did. Revel in the beauty and variety of tens of thousands of daffodils springing up in Atkinson and beyond each April. Check out the scarecrows that watch over Chester and parts of Auburn each fall. Immerse yourself in the history of Robert Frost at the Derry farm where he lived for over 10 years while walking on the poetry and nature paths of the State Park. Bask in glorious sunsets over Massabesic Lake after a day of hiking the numerous trails next to this “place of much water” as known by the Abenaki tribe that lived along its banks. Bring a kayak or canoe with you and explore, fish or photograph.
There is so much to do and see, you may want to delay that trip up north and stay overnight in one of the charming bed and breakfasts to be found on the Byway.
For more information about the Robert Frost/ Old Stage Coach Byway and the many events and happenings in its towns – see www.frost-stagecoach-byway.org.