Travel

3 Mass. historic routes added to the National Scenic Byways program

"These special routes offer travelers exciting new opportunities to explore the nation, from coast to coast or close to home."

The sun sets over Route 6A, also known as Old King's Highway, in Sandwich. John Tlumacki / The Boston Globe

Massachusetts has four of the most beautiful and historic driving routes in the country, according to the Federal Highway Administration.

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The administration just added 49 new routes to the National Scenic Byways program, including three in Massachusetts: The Battle Road Scenic Byway, The Mohawk Trail Scenic Byway, and Old King’s Highway (Route 6A). The routes join the already listed Connecticut River Byway — Massachusetts for a total of four listings in Massachusetts.

The program, created in 1991, now includes 184 routes across 48 U.S. states, all chosen for one or more archeological, cultural, historic, natural, recreational, and scenic qualities.

“Through their many unique qualities, each of these new additions to the National Scenic Byways program helps America’s roads tell our national story,” said Tom Everett, executive director of the Federal Highway Administration, in a statement. “These special routes offer travelers exciting new opportunities to explore the nation, from coast to coast or close to home.”

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The Battle Road Scenic Byway, famous for its role in the American Revolution, is a 15-mile route through the towns of Arlington, Lexington, Lincoln, and Concord, and includes part of the Minuteman National Historical Park. The Mohawk Trail Scenic Byway is a 69-mile route from Williamstown to Athol, through historic towns and past gorgeous vistas. Old King’s Highway on the Cape is a 62-mile drive along the coast, full of charming and historic towns, churches, and scenic harbors. The routes were all chosen for their historic quality, and the Battle Road Scenic Byway was also chosen for its cultural quality.

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“Scenic roads have always been popular with travelers, and support a wide array of area businesses too,” Everett noted. “Whether hotels, eateries, or gas stations, Scenic Byways and All-American Roads support the nation’s small business community and are economic drivers for entire regions.”

Other New England routes added to the list: Revolutionary Heritage Byway in Rhode Island, and Katahdin Woods and Waters Scenic Byway, St. John Valley Cultural Byway/Fish River Scenic Byway, and Bold Coast Scenic Byway, all in Maine.

“The public is encouraged to explore these newly designated distinct and diverse roads once it is safe to do so,” wrote the administration, referring to current restrictions due to the coronavirus pandemic.

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As always, travelers should research a state’s COVID-19 travel restrictions before crossing state lines.

View a complete list and map of the scenic byways.

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