Another cloudy day, another rail trail discovery! Not more than an hour away is an easy 11-mile ride ideal for bikers looking to roll past babbling brooks and smell the ripening aroma of decaying foliage.
The dropping of bright red maple leaves brushed across our helmets as we took to the Ashuwillticook Rail Trail in Western Massachusetts. The historic rail corridor, built in 1845, runs between Pittsfield and North Adams, Massachusetts but only the spur between Lanesborough, Cheshire and Adams is open for pedestrian traffic – for now.
“The 1.5 mile extension, a stretch between Adams to North Adams, is said to open by the end of this season!” cheered Rissa Sawyer, coordinator of the Visitors Center in Adams.
(It’s always a treat to see others as anxious about rail trails as we are). For now, a giant orange sign alerts the public not to enter but George and I saw plenty of bikers and walkers ignoring the warning.
Rissa was most accommodating in so many ways. She provided us, not only with information about the trail, but access to the Center’s microwave to warm up left-over slices for lunch. She also handed me a pamphlet produced by 6th grade students at Lanesborough Elementary School describing the dozens of plants and animals found along the Hoosic River watershed.
“It’s the only river that flows north!” announced Rissa.
After taking advantage of the clean facilities and picnic table, the Adams native further invited us to tour the exhibits at the Thunderbolt Ski Museum, part of the Center’s main attraction.
Displays included vintage skis, black and white pictures, National Ski Patrol memorabilia and adventure films. All represent the heyday of skiing in Adams including, to my surprise, modern races still taking place every winter.
Maybe it was the inhaled greasy pizza or the uphill grade, I reduced my mileage by several notches looping back. The bonus was it didn’t rain and, not unlike other rail trails, the Ashuwillticook has amazing scenery, descriptive kiosks and dozens of comfortable benches.