Easiest New England

On June 17, 2015 · 12 Comments

Twelve Mile Circle has received a steady drip of visitors who seem to want to know the shortest automobile route that could be taken to touch all of the New England states. I don’t see these queries every day although they comprise a consistent two or three every month-or-so and they have been landing on 12MC for years. I don’t know if they traced back to some long-forgotten Internet trivia contest or where they originated. It’s been on my list of potential topics for a very long time and I kept telling myself that I’d have to get around to it eventually. I wasn’t feeling particularly intellectual today so I passed the time fiddling around with Google Maps instead. This became the day to answer the query.

Location of New England (red) in the United States
New England USA” by MissMJ – Own work by uploader, Image:Blank US Map.svg, Britannica Online Encyclopedia. Licensed under Public Domain via Wikimedia Commons.

Many 12MC readers hail from international destinations so I’ll begin with a definition of New England for their benefit. The rest of you can skip to the next paragraph. In the United States, New England consists of six states: Connecticut; Maine; Massachusetts; New Hampshire; Rhode Island and Vermont. It’s the red area marked on the map, above. New England was settled by English colonists in large numbers — thus the name — beginning with the Pilgrims landing at Plymouth in 1620 (my recent visit). Let’s move on to the real question now that everyone understands the challenge.

Shortest Distance

Oak Bluffs

I manipulated Google Maps several ways and the shortest distance that touched all six New England states came to 227 miles (365 kilometres). I’d embed the map directly within this page except that it differed from the one I created for some odd reason. That’s just one more limitation of the current version of Google Maps. Instead, I embedded a photo that I took during my recent trip to Cape Cod that looked quintessentially New England-ish and I invite the audience to open the map in a different tab to follow along.

Notice how I straightened the lines to minimize distances. I’m sure readers could find slightly shorter routes using my map as a starting point and then selecting even more obscure local roads, or perhaps by attempting something completely different. Be sure to post any solution in the comments with a link to the resulting Google Map. My solution should take about 5 hours and 6 minutes without traffic, which means that someone would have to time this journey carefully since it would involve a jaunt directly through the middle of Boston. That would work out to an anemic 45 miles per hour-or-so (72 km/hr) even under the absolute best of conditions. Could the same objective be completed faster? Of course it could.

Shortest Time

I threw the back roads out the window and focused on Interstate Highways as much as I could instead to find the quickest solution. Google Maps liked that solution better and embedded it correctly. It was longer, 253 miles (407 km), although highway speeds more than made up the difference. The route began farther north in White River Junction, Vermont (I rode a scenic train there once), followed I-89 to Manchester, New Hampshire, cut east to barely touch Maine, swung around Boston rather than drilling through it and then ran downward to Rhode Island and due west to Connecticut. This solution should clock-in at 4 hours and 1 minute during optimal conditions with a much hire average speed, about 63 mph (101 km/hr). I tried repeatedly to get it below 4 hours even though I knew it was a meaningless psychological barrier. Maybe someone else can find a quicker solution. Your challenge is to find one that’s 3 hours and 59 minutes or less. That would make me happy.

Hopefully this post will satisfy the multitude of anonymous visitors who want to know the shortest/quickest route through all six New England states, even though none of them will ever return to 12MC again. I enjoyed the mapping challenge. Maybe someday someone will attempt these solutions in the real world. It might make a nice Sunday drive.

On June 17, 2015 · 12 Comments

12 Responses to “Easiest New England”

  1. Via walking directions I visited all six states in 200 miles. It should only take 66 hours:

  2. Optimizing my walking directions for driving, you can drive to all six states in 3 hours 41 minutes. And you will avoid Boston traffic.

  3. Michael says:

    But what if you wanted to do a loop?
    This gets you 5:59 drive time. (And of course, you could start anywhere on the loop.)

  4. The Basement Geographer is on to something. Using Brattleboro Vermont as the midpoint I got walking directions down to 189 miles, 63 hours (3 hours less walking!):

    Seems like a nice trip, you start in Burrillville “Comfortably tucked away in Northwest Rhode Island” and walk about 3 miles in Thompson, Connecticut. In Massachusetts you pass just outside of Worcester and walk through some very quaint towns (and can stop by the Harvard Forest Dioramas). You first enter New Hampshire for about 10 miles before you cross the Connecticut river in to Brattleboro. Continue about 3 miles in Vermont until the Navy Seabees Bridge crosses over the Connecticut river again. Then it’s a long walk in New Hampshire through Keene and Concord, until you cross the Salmon Falls River and arrive in Maine.

  5. Count George says:

    I took a different approach and found a 3u30′, 216 mile trip. Only barely brushing along four of the six states, though.

  6. Count George says:

    Sorry dear moderator, I hadn’t checked the other links. Can I try again under here?

  7. Rhodent says:

    I took Night Owl City’s directions in the June 18 12:00 a.m. post, lopped off the White River Junction to Kittery leg, and added a leg from Pascoag to Vernon VT, then optimized for distance. I was able to get it down to 188 miles. I have no doubt that the route could be shortened even more (in particular, I think I see a way to shorten the distance between I-495 Exit 43 and I-495 Exit 60), but at this point Google Maps said the route could not be further modified.


  8. January First-of-May says:

    I thought that one backtrack to both CT and RI is more efficient than separate backtracks to different parts of the two states (going from Basement Geographer’s map), so I made a map for that, and it indeed seems to be faster:

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