North Adams: Scenic road trip on the Mohawk Trail
It’s cold outside. Really cold! And the pandemic is still disrupting life as we know it. All the more reason you should hop in the car and go for a scenic joy ride on the Massachusetts Mohawk Trail.
The road is named for the Native Americans that first used the pass to travel between the Hudson and Connecticut Rivers.
MA-2, as it’s better known, is 40-miles worth of exhilarating twists and turns between two intervening mountain ranges. It’s a road that features dramatic views of the northern Berkshire Valley, a notorious hairpin turn, and a unique ridgeline.
When it first opened in 1914, many cars had to stop and wait for their engines to cool. Today, traffic buzzes up and down taking the landscape for granted. Not us, though.
We slowed to a crawl to marvel at the ice-covered cliffs and a 2-story eatery carved into the side of the hill called the Golden Eagle Restaurant & Lounge. The restaurant was closed but their parking lot was plowed clean.
If you need to stretch your legs at this point, there’s a trailhead at the top of the hill after the Wigwam Cabins. (You didn’t think I could resist a short hike, did you?). I insisted that George stay in the car but he took to the narrow trail with knee-deep drifts in stride. The poor guy had his knee operated on just weeks ago. What a good sport.
After the hike, we continued our drive to Whitcomb Summit, home of the Elk Memorial on the highest point of the Hoosac Range. Afterward, we headed into town for coffee at Mass MoCA’s walk-up Tunnel City Cafe and dinner at PUBLIC Eat+Drink restaurant in North Adams.
Driving home, I stopped to contemplate a future staycation at the new TOURISTS hotel and riverside retreat half way before Williamstown and North Adams. The archetypal American motel, with its windowless exterior and camp-like sparseness, looks like a venue that Mass MoCA gave birth to.
Behind the terrace, I struck up a conversation with a bundled-up, young couple huddled around one of the five fire pits. Lee and Joey had drove in from Jamaica Plains near Boston to celebrate Lee’s 34th birthday; their second visit in 6 months. The salt-water pool was buried in three-inches of snow this time but they had plans to explore miles of footpaths that parallel the trout-stocked Hoosac River.