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THE BERKSHIRE VALLEY
The Berkshire Valley is a major summer tourist destination with numerous cultural attractions ranging from the summer concerts of the Boston Symphony Orchestra to art galleries, small theater companies and religious and educational retreat centers. The valley also has fine scenery: flat or rolling terrain at the glacially-scoured valley bottoms, interspersed with forested hills and mountains including Mount Greylock, the highest mountain in Massachusetts.
The major challenge in developing bicycle routes in the Berkshire Valley was to touch on points of interest while avoiding roads crowded during the summer tourist season. Another challenge was to get through Pittsfield, the one major city in the Berkshires, without climbing high hills or using heavily-traveled streets.
While a solution to all of the difficulties in Pittsfield will require some road improvements, problems are less difficult in the rest of the valley: there are many roads with light traffic; many of the highways have wide shoulders and have been recently repaved, making them suitable for bicycling even when traffic is heavy. There is a need for some spot improvements, which will be discussed in connection with the individual route segments; also, the Berkshires are short on facilities attractive to novice and child riders, though a couple of loop routes in the proposed system meet this requirement.
The Berkshire route system is centered on a single north-south through route. This choice reflects the narrowness of the Berkshire Valley compared with the Connecticut Valley. However, a number of side trips and alternates are provided along the main route.
Connections are made to the three adjoining states via recognized good bicycle touring routes in those states. Two connecting routes to the Connecticut Valley are also proposed.