Lake Fairlee–Thetford Hill
The combination of spectacular views and steep hills make these rides favorites, especially in the fall when the leaves change. All four variations start in the same manner. Like the River Loop, follow West Wheelock out of town, cross Ledyard Bridge and hang a right onto River Road/Route 5. When you get to Thetford, take a right onto Route 113 and head up Thetford Hill. It doesn’t let up for a good two miles, hitting an 8.5% grade near the top. At the top of the hill you’ll have a choice of how much more punishment you want to inflict on yourself (see below).
DIFFICULT 20 mile ride (1.5 hours)
At the top of Thetford Hill, turn left onto Academy Road. If you see Thetford Academy to your right, you’ll know you went the right way. Once on Academy Road there is a great descent and a trip under a covered bridge. Veer left after the bridge and when you get a chance turn left onto Route 132. Follow Route 132 until you hit Route 5 and turn right. This will send you right back into Hanover.
Mountain Goat Loop
VERY DIFFICULT 24 mile ride (1.5 to 2 hours)
At the peak of Thetford Hill (after resting in the parking lot of the white church if you need to), turn left onto Academy Road. Make sure to glance to your left for a great view. After the covered bridge, veer left and once the opportunity presents itself, turn left onto Route 132. You won’t be on Route 132 for long before you see a hill that looks like it is coming straight up out of the ground. This is your turn-off; switch onto the small chainring and veer right onto Union Village Road. After some hard climbs and a landscape dotted with cows from the Woody Jackson school of design, you will descend and find yourself on Main Street in downtown Norwich. Just follow main street out of Norwich, and head back to Hanover.
Tucker Hill Loop
DIFFICULT 25 mile ride (1.5 hours)
Once you have climbed Thetford Hill, head straight on Route 113 into Thetford Center. You will pass a fire station on your left. Then, turn left onto Tucker Hill Road. You’ll go down, then up, then around, then down again before Tucker Hill Road will eventually cease ends at Route 132. Take a left and head up the easy (well, easier) climb past Union Villiage Dam on the left. Then, either follow 132 all the way down to Route 5 and take a right back to Hanover, or head up the steep hill when Union Villiage Road branches off to the right and follow that road up, around, and then down through Norwich and back home.
VERY DIFFICULT 40 mile ride (2.5 hours)
Great fun riding around the lake. If you’re lucky you’ll get a nice cooling breeze from the lake (especially if it is still full of ice). At the top of Thetford Hill stay on Route 113. Eventually you will come to the down of Lake Fairlee and sign for Route 244 — turn right here. Stay on Route 244 around the lake and down the hill. until you get to Route 5. At Route 5 you can take a right and head straight back to Hanover, or take a left and follow it until you hit the Orford. Take a right across the bridge, and then another onto Route 10. Follow 10 back into Hanover.
A special note on the scenery: it’s great! Lake Fairlee is beautiful as is the surrounding countryside. Also, the stretch of road from Orford to Lyme is definitely postcard material with New England farm houses liberally interspersed throughout.