Foliage season is at its peak, so right now is the time to climb into the car and head out for the back roads. The colors this year seem to have been brighter than in several past years and much of it remains on the trees.
Southern New Hampshire: to Mont Vernon
Take Route 3 north to Nashua and get on Route 101A west toward Amherst and Milford: be sure to stay on 101A and not take the bypass. Milford has an attractive Town Common and interesting shops to explore. If you are not stopping, keep to the right and over the bridge take Route 13 to the left toward Mont Vernon. This drive is over hill and dale through attractive woods to a beautiful small town with handsome architecture. You can’t miss the Art Nouveau-inspired shingle style Congregational church as you enter town. Across the street, the Town Offices are in a simple nineteenth century meeting house. This beautiful little town has a number of very attractive residences along the main street.
On to Francestown
A short way outside of Mont Vernon village turn left onto the Francestown Turnpike, a nice country road passing fields, farms and then through tunnels of trees. The color here is bright, particularly when backlit in the afternoon.
The road rises through a forest of hardwoods and suddenly into Francestown’s Town Common, directly facing the stunning Greek Revival 19th-century Old Meeting House. It commands an intersection of several roads. Pull into the lot of the Historical Society on the right to see the Meeting House and the Town Office Building with their historic carriage stalls.
And on to Hancock
Leave Francestown on Route 136 south to Greenfield and at the intersection in the center of town turn right, toward Hancock. At the division of the road keep right, past Greenfield State Park. This road, too, is a delight to drive in the autumn, through patches of over-hanging trees and past fields and old farms.
At Hancock, turn left onto the main street and find a place to park. Fiddleheads Café is as good choice for lunch or a pick-me-up. Walking along the street here is rather like being back in the 19th century. The Hancock Inn has been there on Main Street since 1789 and has a solid reputation for comfortable rooms and fine dining. Right next door is Main Street Cheese, makers of goat cheeses, where visitors can visit the goats and their kids in the back yard.
A few steps further down Main Street brings you to the common with its band stand. Opposite is the historic Congregational Church and Meeting House, a classic New England centerpiece. It is in Greek Revival style and dates to the early nineteenth century, with Paul Revere bell #236 in its belfry.
From Hancock take Route 137 south, opposite the Meeting House to Route 101 at Dublin. This road passes through a mixed forest of deciduous hardwoods and pine, winding around over hills and valleys before meeting Route 101 at Bond’s Corner. If you are curious to see Dublin, the highest town in the state and home to Yankee Magazine, turn right on Route 101, it is about 2 miles, then return east on Route 101. To get back to Nashua from Bonds Corner take Route 101 east and at Milford keep an eye out for a right turn onto Route 101A east, which leads to Route 3.