Mohawk Trail Region
Mohawk Trail Region
If you want to experience the picture-book New England, you must travel along the Mohawk Trail, Route 2 running east and west. The Trail connects the quaint little villages that dot the northwestern border of Massachusetts.
At its farthest point is Williamstown which touches New York and Vermont. It is home to Williams College which has an attractive campus of green lawns and architecturally interesting buildings.
The biggest attraction in this town is the Sterling and Francine Clark Art Institute or simply called The Clark. It is a fine art museum with outstanding collections of French Impressionists, Old Masters, and American paintings. The Williams College Museum of Art has a collection of works spanning the history of art but emphasizes modern and contemporary art, American art, and the art of world cultures.
In the Summer, a major attraction is the Williamstown Théâtre Festival that presents classic and new works on the stage
The next town heading east on route 2 is North Adams the home Massachusetts Museum of Contemporary Art or MASS MoCA. Housed in a restored 19th Century factory, it has the size to display some of the provocative and evocative art of our time.
When leaving Mass MoCA take a short detour going south on route 8 to The Town of Adams, taking a right onto Maple Street at the William McKinley Monument to the cemetery at the top of the street, you will find The Quaker Meeting built in 1784, the house is open from July – October on Sunday’s to the public. Returning to Route 8 going south to the end of Park Street to the town common with a monument to honor the Town's famous daughter Susan B. Anthony was born in Adams in 1820. A side trip to 67 East Road brings you to the Susan B. Anthony Birthplace Museum. Then return to route 8 north back to North Adams.
If you are less into art and more into nature, The Appalachian Trail crosses the Mohawk Trail in North Adams and automobile access to Mt. Greylock also crosses The Trail. Both expeditions give you close contact with the natural beauty of the Berkshire Hills. Continuing on Route 2 east you will climb the mountains, specifically The Hoosac Range, which separates the Hudson River Valley from the Connecticut River Valley. This is not a superhighway so expect The Hairpin Turn, The Western Summit, The Whit- comb Summit, and The Eastern Summit. Each one has a view worth stopping for, but you will see plenty of scenery as the road, descending the mountain, is cupped in the forested hills, and paralleled by a rocky river.
The topography flattens out before you reach downtown Charlemont. On the right is a memorial to the ancient Natives who traveled this road. Hail to the Sunrise is a beautiful sculpture honoring those who hold sacred the daily miracle of sunrise and the bounteous beauty of green life filling up the valley walls. In downtown, Charlemont is the restored Bissell Covered Bridge reached by a very short trip north up Route 8A which is near the corner of the Federated Church, the home of the Mohawk Trail Concerts Summer Festival of Chamber Music.
For a powerful adventure take a rafting trip down the Deerfield River with one of the touring companies in Charlemont: Crab Apple Whitewater and Zoar Outdoor. It will be an experience to tell your friends about. Or head for the treetops and take a zip line canopy tour also at Zoar Outdoor/Deer- field Valley Canopy Tours By means of zip lines, sky bridges, and rappels suspended in the trees, you fly through the forest on a thrill ride.
There’s more to the east just off The Mohawk Trail: the Village of Shelburne Falls is a special place with two bridges, one for traffic and one for flowers and that bridge is called The Bridge of Flowers. It’s maintained by volunteers who create an ever-blooming garden of flowers, bushes, and trees. Park the car and explore the village and the Glacial Potholes.
Here in the western end of the Mohawk Trail where it reaches the Deerfield and Connecticut Rivers, you leave Route 2 and head south along Routes 5 & 10 out of Greenfield. There are places here that historically reach back to very early settlements in America and where some terrible battles and massacres took place between natives and settlers. By heading south to Historic Deerfield. There are 11 museum houses to tour filled with world-class antiques and detailing the heritage of this early American settlement and Memorial Hall Museum in the village opened in 1880 as a “direct memorial to the inhabitants of this valley, both Indian and Puritan.” Back on Routes 5 & 10 and the next stop is Yankee Candle Village, the home store of Yankee Candle. Explore the Bavarian Christmas Village and See more history in the Candlemaking Museum. They say, “Come for the candles, stay for the fun.” Continue on Route 5 to Bernardston for another candle shopping experience and discover Kringle Candle campus with the Christmas Barn and Chocolate Cottage.
Head back up Routes 5 & 10 and get to Turners Fall to visit the Great Falls Discovery Center to learn about the Connecticut River Watershed, its plant, and animal life. You can view the canal and river and even visit watchable wildlife areas.
More information can be found at: www.mohawktrail.com