Spectacular fall foliage scenic drives are plentiful in Massachusetts from the south shore of Boston down to Cape Cod, and the Quabbin Reservoir area of the central region. But perhaps the most dramatic lay out west in the Berkshires and Mount Greylock region. Here the mountains provide the perfect terrain and temperatures to showcase fall in its entire splendor.
And nowhere is this most evident than on one of my favorite Massachusetts scenic drives. Stretching for 63 miles from the Massachusetts-New York border to Millers Falls on the Connecticut River is a stretch of road known as The Mohawk Trail. It offers one of Massachusetts most beloved and popular fall foliage scenic drive areas.
Attractions in the region of the Mohawk Trail are Mount Greylock, The Bridge of Flowers, Glacial Potholes, a natural marble bridge formed by erosion, state forests, old Indian hiking trails, and a plethora of villages, country inns, gift shops, and arts and craft attractions.
The trail more or less follows the footpath trade and travel route used by the peoples in this part of the northeast since postglacial age. The path was well trodden and used to move between the Hudson and Connecticut River valleys.
Anytime of the year traveling this same path by road through northern section of the Berkshire Hills is relaxing and inspiring… but especially during fall foliage season when everything is cloaked and carpeted in vibrant autumn colors.
This fall foliage scenic drive covers most of the major attractions and plenty of time for stopping and admiring the view or picking up an antique or two. The drive is approximately 65 miles but you should allow all day for viewing in an unhurried and gentle manner.
Start on Route 7 in Lanesborough, just south of Route 2. Follow Lanesborough one mile north to Rockwell Road on the right. This road leads to the summit of Mount Greylock – the highest peak in Massachusetts and one the loftiest in the long Taconic Mountain range.
The trip to the summit offers splendid view of the valleys and other peaks in the area. A few miles on Rockwell Road is the Mount Greylock Visitor center. Here you can get trail maps and general information about the area. If you’ve got the time some easy walking trails lead down and around the summit.
At the summit is the War Memorial Tower. The climb to the top of a 92-foot-tall tower at the summit offers magnificent views of five states for your efforts. Once your summit viewing is complete take the Notch Road down to meet the Mohawk Trail on Route 2 in North Adams.
North Adams celebrates the autumn season with the North Adams Fall Foliage Festival and Parade. This is usually the last weekend of September or the first in October. In North Adams is the Western Gateway Heritage State Park, which features an exhibit on the building of the Hoosac Tunnel. Close by east of North Adams off Route 2 and 8 is Natural Bridge State Park – here the remains of rock fractures and erosion has built a natural bridge formation.
Follow Route 2 east out of North Adams ascending the Hoosac Mountain Range until Hairpin Turn and then onto the Western Summit. Here you can stop and admire the vistas of Mount Greylock, Vermont’s Green Mountains, and the valley below.
How fast or slow you take the next part of the journey depends on time. Continuing on Route 2 east takes you though Charlemont where the famous “Hail to the Sunrise” statue stands in Memorial Park. The eastern end of this scenic drive on the Mohawk Trail on Route 2 takes you out to Shelburne Falls where you can view The Bridge of Flowers – a transformed trolley bridge – and the Glacial Potholes below Salmon Falls, where time has produced unusual geological pools.
Scattered throughout the region are state parks, hikes along ancient trails, scenic views, and of course specialty shopping and dinning opportunities. So as you wind your way around on this tour take time to enjoy this area of a window into the area’s heritage.
In summary, the Mohawk Trail is a not-to-missed fall foliage scenic trail in Massachusetts. Combine the drive with a getaway weekend in the Berkshires and many other attractions in the area, and you’ve a fall foliage destination package to create memories for many a fall to come.
For more information and details on the Mohawk Trail region visit the trails official web site at www.mohawktrail.com.