Father's Day on a Rail Trail
Instead of a backyard barbecue or giving Dad another golf shirt, share the day on a bike trail! Of course, you'll need to have appropriate weather and maybe a bike, but don't let that stop you dead in your tracks. This Father's Day, we shared the Ashuwillticook Rail Trail with people who were walking, jogging, and rollerblading, and we saw at least a half-dozen folks of all ages fishing along the different bodies of water beside the trail.
The Ashuwillticook Rail Trail follows the Hoosic River, running parallel to MA Route 8 between Adams and Pittsfield in beautiful western Massachusetts. The Ashuwillticook even crosses the Appalachian Trail just south of the state's highest peak Mt. Greylock, which is visible when looking to the northwest from the trail.
We started our ride at the Visitor's Center in Adams and rode south along the asphalt trail for 11 miles to the trailhead near the Berkshire Mall in Lanesborough. It's an uphill ride most of the way in this direction, but the grade is barely noticeable.
This is my favorite kind of trail! (Because it means that the ride back to the car is mostly downhill, which I will take on any day, especially Sundays!) There's ample parking in the lot at the Visitor's Center, with room to unhitch bikes from a car rack easily and without taking your life in your hands. You can access the rail trail from the lot via a short crushed gravel path, or, if you are paranoid about your road bike tires like I am, you can ride around the building on Hoosac Street to hop on where the trail crosses the road. Like the chicken.
The weather was perfect for our ride, with partly cloudy skies, temperature in the low 80s and a slight breeze. The weather drew many other people out to explore the trail on such a fine day, and we shouted "Happy Father's Day" as we rode past to many dads out with their children. Birds sang, squirrels chattered, and I may or may not have answered the ducks who quacked at us to warn other fowl of our impending arrival in the parts of the trail surrounded by wetlands. My "alleged" avian conversations, had they occurred, may or may not have contributed to my having consumed the entire contents of my sole water bottle by the time I reached the trail's end in Pittsfield (really Lanesborough).
I figured I'd find running water to refill my bottle in the rest rooms at the southern trailhead, as well as a receptacle for the wrapper from the gel I had gulped about halfway there. But you see, this is a time when my spontaneous decisions tend to bite me in the butt. If I had actually prepared for this ride, I would have known that the rest rooms offer only composting toilets and hand sanitizer, but no water, and the rule is "Carry in; carry out," so there are no trash cans, either. Good thing Bruce doesn't mind sticky old gel wrappers in his bike shirt pocket, and an enterprising entrepreneur opened an ice cream shop just back up the trail where it crosses Old State Rd., otherwise I'd be writing this from the ER instead of my sister's backyard.
All in all, it was a terrific ride, and a wonderful day despite my lack of planning. The Ashuwilticook Rail Trail rates 4 of 4 bikes for: (1) easy access to trail heads, (2) excellent trail signage, (3) interesting scenery, and (4) perfect trail condition!