routes report home page
Table of Contents
Next: the Connecticut River Valley
Berkshire Routes not Described in Detail
A few routes are shown on the maps but not described in detail in writing or by means of cue sheets.
Adams - Savoy - Charlemont - Clarksburg
A spectacular bicycle touring loop for anyone who doesn't mind some climbing follows Wells Street from Cheshire and Route 116 east to Route 8A, then up the Deerfield River, past Monroe Bridge to Readsboro, Vermont and back on Route 8 to Clarksburg, Massachusetts and North Adams. Traffic is very light throughout. Climbs are as moderate as can be found when going over the ridge of the Berkshires twice: in particular, the Monroe Road, which follows the Deerfield River, avoids the higher elevation and heavy traffic of Route 2 over Whitcomb Summit. The points of interest are extraordinary:
the east portal of the histroic Hoosac Tunnel,
pumped storage and nuclear power plants on the Deerfield River;
wild, forested scenery and the one-street village of Monroe;
then at the top of the climb on Monroe Road, the sleepy town center of Readsboro, Vermont followed by
the wide valley along Route 100 and Route 8, with miles of gentle descent to North Adams.
The route is best taken counterclockwise, because Monroe Road, along the Deerfield River, is too narrow and winding for a quick descent. A complete circuit may be made in combination with part of the following route:
Pittsfield - North Adams
The Pittsfield - North Adams connection via Peck's Road and connecting streets through to Crane Avenue, Route 8 and East Street/Church Street avoids much of the urban center of Pittsfield. Once east of Route 7, the route travels through low-density residential areas and then rural areas including the dairy farms that somehow have been a selling point for bicycle touring in nearby Vermont. Massachusetts has them too.
The pastures shown are along Henry Woods Road in Cheshire. The Pittsfield-North Adams route also connects with the Adams-Monroe-Readsboro loop, and with a Connecticut Valley - Berkshire Valley route which approaches Adams from the east on Route 116. Route 8 between Cheshire and Adams is a fine bicycling highway, with wide shoulders. Route 8 between Adams and North Adams, however, is very unattractive -- four lanes through an industrial area, without shoulders, and so the bicycle route uses a secondary road to its east. Plans are also underway for a rail trail on an abandoned rail line that runs north-south between Pittsfield and north Adams.
Pittsfield - Washington
A very workable route through a residential area of east Pittsfield connects with Washington Mountain Road and Skyline Drive, gateways to the high Berkshires. This route is a potential link into a route to the Connecticut Valley mostly on Route 20, also providing access to the Jacob's Pillow Dance Festival.
Central Pittsfield Connectors
These routes are necessary for access to the central shopping district of Pittsfield, with lodging, restaurants, bicycle shops and the Berkshire Music Festival; also to the Amtrak station: bicycles may be transported as baggage on Amtrak. East-west and north-south routes were surveyed and proved mostly very workable in the context of urban cycling; secondary streets are available, with traffic signal crossings of major streets. There is one significant difficulty in the north-south route east of the center of Pittsfield, where no street crossed East Street; a jog to the right or left is necessary.
Tyringham - New Marlborough
Connecting two side trips of the route system, this link passes several points of interest in the east Berkshire valley hills: a national fish hatchery, a fine swimming hole along the Konkapot River, and the town center of Monterey with an old-fashioned general store. As with many old buildings, it is inscribed with its date of building (1780, under the eaves). It clearly has had some removations since then..
Monterey also has a roadside restaurant and another swimming hole at Lake Garfield.
The roads on this side trip are well paved but not wide, and traffic is moderate. The climb is somewhat challenging from the south, but very steep from the north. A branch of the route might extend to the camping area at Beartown State Forest, and from there either to Monument Valley or over the mountain to Lee -- see comments on side trips 4 and 6, above.
There are many additional bicycle touring possibilities in the southern Berkshire Valley, which has a large number of meandering roads in flat to rolling terrain. These are not shown on the maps with this report due to their number. It is possible to take lodgings at one location and ride for several weeks without exhausting the possibilities. Riders who wish to take this approach are best referred to the excellent books by Steve Lyons and Lewis Cuyler, which describe numerous loop rides in the Berkshire Valley (see bibliography). [As of this writing, the Rubel map of western Massachusetts is also available and is an excellent resource, and Howard Stone has expanded his books' coverage to include the Berkshires.]