Thursday, October 11, 2012

Fall Continues With the Mohawk Trail

It's no secret, I love Fall.  So, I wanted to share one of my favorite Fall drives which I took again just the other day.  It's called the Mohawk Trail, which is actually an old Indian trail that was at one point paved over to become Route 2 in Northern Massachusetts.  My favorite drive is from Greenfield to North Adams, with many wonderful stops along the way.  If you like beautiful meandering drives with great vistas, interesting stops along the way, and winding roads through mountains, then this is for you.

This is the French King Bridge.  It's a magnificent stone bridge just east of Greenfield on Route 2.  The bridge is amazing, and so is the view.  It's not on my driving route, but it's so close that I had to include it.
This is Poet's Seat Tower, and this is in Greenfield--the beginning of my driving route.  This tower sits on top of a small mountain and provides great views of the city and the valley below.
Now, Greenfield has all the well known shopping spots and restaurants, but I don't advise stopping there unless you really want a Big Mac or just have to buy new clothes.  Once you head out on Route 2, you will find all kinds of great little places to stop.  There are all kinds of gift shops and restaurants along the way.
This time out, I stopped at Gould's Sugar House.  This farm has been here and making maple syrup for 100 years.  They have a place where, in season, you can see how they make the maple syrup.  They also have a great gift shop with all kinds of country and rustic things.  You can also get maple flavored ice cream and apple cider (hot or cold).  If you like, and you happen to catch them when they're open, they have a restaurant.  They only serve pancakes and waffles, with meat if you like, and burgers.  It's worth the wait though, because these guys do those few items very well.  Not to mention that it's still family run, and Mrs. Gould will seat you.  You have to watch those hours though.  They open the restaurant pretty much when they want to and they close when they run out of food for the day.  It is a great little stop along the Mohawk Trail though.  It gives you the perfect essence of a country drive.
Next on my drive, I stopped off in Shelburne Falls, which is the cutest little town just a couple of miles off of Route 2 along the Mohawk Trail.  There are actually two towns there, the other one is Buckland, but it's on the boring side of the river.  Shelburne Falls is the quintessential New England small town and looks fabulous in the Fall.  But it does have some unique features.

This unique feature is called The Bridge of Flowers.  It's an old trolley bridge that connects the two towns.  The locals turned it into a park full of flowers that is also a Vietnam War Memorial.  It's beautiful to walk across and see all the flowers and the unusual trees.

The view from the bridge is pretty cool too.  But that's not the only unusual feature of this tiny hamlet in the middle of nowhere in Mass.
There's also this waterfall that was at one point or another made into a hydroelectric dam.  It's still a beautiful sight to see.  As you would suspect, it's called Shelburne Falls.
In downtown Shelburne Falls, there are all of those little cute shops that sell books, handicrafts, antiques and souvenirs that we all love to visit when we are ambling around on a country drive, fully equipped with friendly owners who love to know where we all come from.  If you're lucky, you'll even catch local author, Archer Mayor, a mystery writer who writes stories set in Vermont.  He comes by to do book signings in the general area quite a bit.  If you don't catch him, like I never do, you can normally buy an autographed copy from his last visit.
 From Shelburne Falls it is a wonderful country drive through colorful valleys,
 over scenic mountaintop vistas,

and down winding roads with hairpin turns.  We saw wonderful fall foliage as we drove from on Indian themed gift shop to another and played in makeshift teepees on our way to North Adams, Mass.  Once we reached North Adams, we had one last place to stop.
 This is the natural bridge at Natural Bridge State Park in North Adams.  These are actually quite rare results of the most recent ice age.  The property was being used as a rock quarry when the owners discovered this natural formation, and now it is a state park.
 These washed out areas are called glacial potholes.  They are where the water has simply washed away the rock and in this case has carved a beautiful, small, narrow gorge.
 The park is navigated through a series of walkways and stairs, so it can be a climb in some areas.  But it's worth it.  The views are great.
 And great for me, it comes with waterfalls,

and scenic vistas.
North Adams was a town in distress a few years ago, but it has turned into a thriving artist community, so while you're in town, go to a gallery or a loft and enjoy the talent that lives and works in the area.  You can also take a drive up Mount Greylock while in town and get a great view from the tower at the top of the highest peak in the area.  
The Mohawk Trail is one of my favorite New England areas.  I've lived here a long time and have found many wonderful things, but in the Fall it would be hard to beat this.  So, grab your camera, pick up some apple cider to drink along the way and come out and look at the foliage before its too late.  It's New England's last hurrah against mother nature before winter sets in, and we love it.


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