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Explore the Ashuwillticook Rail Trail

May 9th, 2020 by Corey A. Edwards

Ashuwillticook Rail TrailSoak up the natural beauty of the Berkshires with a visit to the Ashuwillticook Rail Trail. This nearly 13 mile long, converted railroad track runs from Adams, MA through Cheshire, to Lanesborough, with plenty of lush scenery and wildlife throughout.

The Ashuwillticook Rail Trail started out as an extension of the Housatonic Railroad in 1845. The line served the area for nearly 150 years before shutting down in 1990. A successful campaign for the track’s conversion to a multi-use trail began shortly thereafter and the Ashuwillticook Rail Trail was born.

Ashuwillticook (ash-oo-will-ti-cook) is a Native American word for “the pleasant river in between the hills” and a very appropriate name.

The trail runs along the Hoosic River, between the Mount Greylock and the Hoosac Mountain Ranges, parallel to Route 8. Its’ course takes it past the shores of the Cheshire Reservoir, Berkshire Pond, and a variety of wetlands teeming with waterfowl and other wildlife.

Getting Out On the Rail Trail

Ashuwillticook Rail Trail MapThe southern entrance to the trail is found at the Berkshire Mall. This is just a short drive north of our Berkshires bed and breakfast, Applegate Inn in Lee, MA.

The trail is ten foot wide and paved, perfect for just about any activity you can imagine. Walking, running, biking, bird-watching, and fishing are all popular Rail Trail activities. During the winter months, the trail is a popular cross-country skiing and snowshoeing destination. In autumn, the changing foliage transforms it into a leaf-peeper’s heaven.

The trail leads through both natural and urban areas, with parking lots and restrooms here and there along the way. Although there are often restaurants and food stores nearby, most are on the wrong side of a busy highway. Luckily, the trail also features a number of scenic rest areas. Consider packing a picnic if you’re planning a lengthy excursion.

Cheshire Reservoir sunset

A stunning Cheshire Reservoir sunset

Approaching Adams, the trail passes by wood lots, farms, and old mill buildings across the Hoosic River. Parking for the trail in Adams is available at the visitor center on Hoosac Street.

Ashuwillticook Rail Trail

So go ahead, pick an entrance, park your car, then head out on the trail and see where it takes you. Soak up some scenery; stretch your legs and breathe in that fresh air. Go fishing for bass, northern pike, and yellow perch in Cheshire Reservoir. Take in some unobstructed views of Mount Greylock or thrill to the sight of osprey and heron in the wetlands.

Future plans for the trail include further extensions into North Adams and south into Pittsfield. The southern portion of the trail, from Lanesborough to Church Street in Cheshire, is scheduled to close for a resurfacing project in spring 2020. The rest of the trail will remain open during this time.

Learn more at www.mass.gov. You can also download a map of the Rail Trail.

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