Western MA

NEMBA COVID-19 Guidance for Rides & Trail Care Events

Tuesday, June 15, 2021

COVID-19 Guidance for NEMBA Rides & Trail Care Sessions

 

With warm weather and the easing of Covid-19 restrictions we know that there will be an iincrease in group rides and trail work days. Please consider the guidance below, as well as the state by state guidelines, when organizing and hosting a group ride, trail care event, or other event. We all want to ride bikes, let’s just do it safely!

 

Key Takeaways:

  • All participants must sign the NEMBA Annual Waiver.

  • Email with information of any upcoming events.

  • Follow state & local guidelines (see links below as these can change frequently)

  • We strongly encourage you to maintain a list of attendees with contact info so we have a record of participation and can do outreach to non-members.  This will also help in the event contact tracing is ever necessary. 

  • Most riders prefer a smaller, more personal group ride experience. Try to keep trail groups small, 10 or less is ideal. Split larger groups if possible. 

  • Masks are not required for fully vaccinated individuals and others who are recreating outdoors but are still an excellent preventative measure when in close contact or when near unvaccinated or at-risk people. 

  • Respect the wishes of any volunteer or participant who requests more enhanced protocols. Every individual has their own risk tolerance.

  • Very importantly, all state and local guidelines still apply.

 

Current State Requirements: (Subject to change.) - updated June 15, 2021

Click on the State name for links to individual state COVID-19 websites

Connecticut: No outdoor mask requirements. No outdoor limit on group size.

Massachusetts: No mask requirements for fully vaccinated. No limit on outdoor group size. All State covid restrictions end on 6/15.

Maine: No outdoor mask requirements. No limits on group size.

New Hampshire: No outdoor mask requirements. No limits on group size. Covid restrictins end 6/12.

Rhode Island: No outdoor mask requirement. No limits on group size

Vermont: No outdoor mask requirements. No limits on group size. All Covid restrictions ended 6/15.

CDC Covid-19 Guidelines

CT DEEP, Maine Bureau of Parks, Mass DCR Guidance, NH State Parks, RI DEM Guidance, VT State Parks 

   Note: Some cities and towns may have different rules.

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NEMBA Recommendations for smaller events, rides, and trail care sessions

  • To schedule a group ride or trail care event send an email to

  • All participants must also sign the NEMBA Annual Waiver

  • Volunteers and participants should remain home if not feeling well, if they have received a positive COVID test, or if they have had close contact with someone who has tested positive for COVID.

  • We strongly encourage chapters to maintain a list of attendees with contact info so we have a record of participation and can do outreach to non-members. This will also help in the event contact tracing is ever necessary. This can be as simple as a sign-in list, if capacity is not a concern, or a pre-registration site such as EventBrite. 

Many chapters just keep a record of attendees. Either by pre-signing up people or taking names and email addresses at the event. This is a best-practice, regardless of COVID.

NEMBA offers EventBrite registration, with a covid-19 questionnaire for any individual or chapter that wishes to use it. This can help with capacity requirements due to limited ride guides. Eventbrite is just one option, other options are welcomed.

When riding with the same people every week, this can be waived.

  • Respect parking regulations. Parking has become a problem at some riding areas due to the influx of new trail users. If a parking area is full, find another legal place to park.

  • Try to keep groups small, 10 or less is ideal. Participants have more enjoyable times in smaller groups. Split larger groups if possible. Large groups can also cause trail conflicts and should be avoided. Have sufficient ride leaders to meet demand or create ride limits that reflect your ride leader capacity.

  • Masks are not required for fully vaccinated individuals and others who are recreating outdoors but are still an excellent preventative measure when in close contact or when near unvaccinated or at-risk people. 

  • Exaggerate your courtesy to other trail users. When encountering other trail users, slow down or stop and move off the trail to provide room for people to pass unless they waive you by. Always say hello and be friendly.

  • On trail care days bring hand sanitizer, cleaning wipes, etc. Some places require providing sanitizing materials at events 

  • You are strongly encouraged to review the state and local guidelines for your area if post ride food is being offered. Bring hand sanitizer, minimize the sharing of food, and ensure social distancing is maintained.

  • Respect the wishes of any volunteer or participant who requests more enhanced protocols. Every individual has their own risk tolerance. 

  • It is up to local chapters to decide what is best for their area and the comfort level of their ride leaders.

  • Follow local, state and federal guidelines. Use the links above for up-to-date information as these change frequently. 

Western MA

Northfield Mountain

99 Millers Falls Road
Northfield  Massachusetts  01360
United States

Easy

30%

Moderate

50%

Difficult

20%

Description

The Northfield Mountain Recreation and Environmental Center is a Pump Storage Power Facility.

One of the many outdoor recreational oportunities offered is mountain biking and in the winter fat biking.

The center does do some grooming in the winter, but it's sporadic. Updates on trail conditions are posted here.

Riding here is a lot of fun. The trails range from easy to quite challenging. In all there are over 25 miles of trails.

The trails are open to class-1 e-MTBs

A great description of Northfield Mountain is on this Trailforks page. Read more about Northfield Mountain

Local Shops

Bicycle World

Highland Hardware & Bike Shop

Northampton Bicycle

Links to Relevant Resources

Western MA

Greylock Glen, Adams

113 West Rd
Adams  Massachusetts  01220
United States

Easy

50%

Moderate

40%

Difficult

10%

Description

Greylock Glen is a work in progress. It consists of 1060 acres right at the eastern base of Mt Greylock. Historically, going back to the mid 1960s, the area was slated for commecial development. Fortunately, that didn't materialize and while many projects were proposed over the years nothing happened till now.

The first map above shows the current DCR map for Greylock Glen. The last shows the initial vision for the Glen's trail system.

Starting in 2014 DCR and its consultant, Dodson & Flinker, and Wetlands & Wildlife, LLC, worked to complete the Greylock Glen Multi-Use Trail System Plan.

That plan called for creating nearly 14 miles of new trails at the Glen to provide for multiple recreational opportunities. It also called for rehabilitating and stewarding nearly 15 miles of existing trails; and abandoning, closing, and restoring approximately 13.5 miles of existing trails that were invery  poor condition, or which lead off of Glen property.

Begining in the Fall of 2015 Volunteers from the Thunderbolt Ski Runners and the Berkshire Chapter of the New England Mountain Biking Association (NEMBA), with approval and guidance from DCR, worked to open the Thunderbolt Glade and maintain the Thunderbolt Meadow.

In 2016 and 2017 DCR worked with trail crews from the Appalachian Mountain Club and Student Conservation Association to make repairs to the Bellows South Trail, continue mountain-bike trail-building to 4-Corners, and construct the new pedestrian “Ribbon Falls Trail” along Peck’s Brook. Volunteers also began to layout and construct a new mountain-biking and running trail connecting the Bellows South Trail toward 4-Corners. Berkshire Outfitters has also been very supportibe of this project.

Currently there are about 8 miles of dedicated single track and 5 miles of double track with fields and woods. More are on he way. These new trails are part of the Department of Conservation and Recreation's $3 million plan to construct and improve the Glen's trail system.

These trails are interesting and some of them go from the lower Glen up to about one fourth of the way up the Mt Greylock to a mature beautiful tall forest with dramatic water falls and views out into the forest.

The Department of Conservation's goal for the Greylock Glen Multi-Use Trail System is intended to provide the following: Hiking and other pedestrian trails that will highlight scenic features of the Glen and include three hiking routes to Mount Greylock State Reservation and the Mount Greylock summit.

Downhill back-country skiing, most notably including the historic Thunderbolt Trail and a new proposed Thunderbird Glade and Meadow route that recalls the original ski trail alignment from the 1930s.

Single-track mountain-biking and running trails that will wind through the forest and provide a variety of loops, difficulties, and destinations.

Cross-country skiing trails intended for both skate and classic styles that will provide for a variety of loops, difficulties, and distances.

Snowmobile connections that will allow snowmobilers to connect from adjacent properties to and across the Greylock Glen.

Note: Much of the above information comes from this DCR Page. The picture below is part of the DCR's initial Vision Plan. For current news check the Greylock Glen Facebook Page.

  Read more about Greylock Glen, Adams

Local Shops

Arcadian Shop

Plaine's Bike

Northampton Bicycle

Links to Relevant Resources

Western MA

The Boulders, Dalton

71 Gulf Rd
Dalton  Massachusetts  01226
United States

Easy

30%

Moderate

50%

Difficult

20%

Description

The Boulders is a 645 acre property in the towns of Dalton, Lanesboro & Pittsfield. 
 
The Boulders was formerly held by the Crane & Company, (longtime maker of the paper used for US currency), it was not well know even to local residents. But starting in 2016 that changed. Now managed by the Berkshire Natural Resources Council the area has increased in popularity enormously.
 
The trails are open to mountain bikers, hikers, snowshoers and trail runners. Be sure to check out the natural rock slides at "The Boulders". Expect to discover over 6 miles of interesting, fun trails.
 
Directions:
For the trailhead parking area on Gulf Road, Dalton: take routes 8/9 east from the center of Pittsfield. Take a left onto Park Avenue, passing Craneville School.  Take a left onto Gulf Road. Park at the pull-off on the left, opposite the parking for the Appalachian Trail.  (**Note the Appalachian Trail is not open to bicycles.)
 
For more information check the Berkshire Natural Resource Council's webpage

The Boulders Hiking Trails in the Berkshires - Northeast Sporting 12 'Must See' Boulders in the Berkshires – UpCountry Magazine Best trails in Dalton, Massachusetts | AllTrails The Boulders Hiking Trails in the Berkshires - Northeast Sporting Read more about The Boulders, Dalton

Local Shops

Arcadian Shop

Berkshire Bike & Boards

Plaine's Bike, Ski & Snowboard

Links to Relevant Resources

Western MA

Kennedy Park, Lenox

91 Pittsfield Rd
Lenox  Massachusetts  02140
United States
There are multiple parking areas.

Easy

40%

Moderate

40%

Difficult

20%

Description

Kennedy Park consists of 500 acres of town-owned hardwood forest with old carriage roads along with nice singletrack. It's ideal for Mountain biking, hiking, picnics, X-country skiing,and snowshoeing. Motorized vehicles, electric bicycles and snowmobiles are prohibited.

The trail map is available at The Arcadian Shop and on the www.townoflenox.com website.

Kennedy Park is revered as one of the premier places to mountain bike in Berkshire County. The trails are well maintained by the town of Lenox and by volunteers from Berkshire NEMBA. 

They range from easy family trails to difficult, knarly singletracks. There are many opportunities for nature viewing and, after some climbing, incredible overlooks to enjoy.

While there are many places to park, why not start your ride from the Arcadian Shop. They'll give you an update on conditions and maybe even suggest some routes. Read more about Kennedy Park, Lenox

Local Shops

Arcadian Shop

What Up (and Down) in Charlemont

Tuesday, January 6, 2015

If you haven't been riding in Charlemont, MA, next summer is the time to go.  

"The Recreation Capitol of New England" as Charlemont calls itself, is a wonderland of views, maple syrup, flannel shirts, grass fed beef cows, zip lining, rafting, kayaking, down hill skiing, snow tubing, and now, mountain biking.  In this quaint New England town nestled in between two mountain ridges in the Berkshires of Western Mass, the mountain bike scene is exploding as you read this. Three hubs of single-track, Warfield House, Zoar Outdoor, and Berkshire East, provide mountain bikers with a total of 35 miles of single track plus endless dirt and farm roads,  double tracks, and snowmobile trails. The town is bisected by the Deerfield River, Route 2, and a rail road.  A short road ride connects the riding hubs, with Berkshire East on the south side of the valley, and Zoar Outdoor and Warfield House on the north.

Building began in earnest about four or five years ago, when Jonathan , 'Jonny' Schaefer of Berkshire East Ski Resort, Bruce Lessels, owner of Zoar Outdoor (an outdoor adventure, outfitter, rafting and lodging company) and Harold Green, past president of NEMBA, were having a few beers at Warfield House and the idea to bring mountain biking to Charlemont in a big way was hatched.

The latest addition to the scene are down hill, one way, lift accessed trails being built at Berkshire East Ski Resort. Schaefer, manager of Berkshire East, and mountain bike rider says.  " We want to continue enjoyment of the outdoors year round. That's the way my brothers and I were brought up."   A progression of green to difficult black diamond trails are in the works.

Determined to do this the right way, Schaefer consulted with his insurance agent who recommended Gravity Logic, an international gravity trail building and resort-consulting firm based in Whistler BC.  Planning began in 2009, and lift serviced trails are scheduled to be open in 2015.  Jonathan Schaefer sees Berkshire East and the town of Charlemont as a center of activity for the many bicycling disciplines, from road rides, to gravel grinders, mountain bike races and other bicycling events.  Having the lift access trails as well as the numerous cross country trails already in place creates a great venue for enduro races (races which don't time the uphill, only the downhill sections), endurance rides such as the Whole Enchilada Ride, a 30 mile mountain bike ride touring both sides of the valley, and other mountain bike races and events. Berkshire East has the potential to meet the requirements for World Cup mountain biking events, something very few east coast resorts have.

Jon continued," We are committed to being a dynamic year round family destination and resort."  A paid trail crew is in the plan for the future and that crew may be working on the cross country as well as the down hill mountain bike trails.

"The easiest lift access trail is designed and built for first time down hill mountain bikers as young as 7 years old, and will be fun for more experienced and skilled riders as well." explained Gabe Porter -Henry, marketing manager of Berkshire East and another flannel clad employee of Berkshire East.    "High end mountain bikes, guided tours, and lessons will be available also."

Out on the trail following the whirring noise of the chainsaw, Chris Conrad, project manager for the crew from Gravity Logic, was clearing corridor for the 3 ½ mile green trail.  Originally from North Carolina, and an avid mountain biker, he headed to Colorado for his ' soul ride' and while riding found a job at a ski area building trail and eventually went to work for Gravity Logic.   "The first trail to open will be the green trail, wide (4 feet wide), with low grades of 5-7½ %, good sight lines through the turns, and low berm walls. Gravity Logic has guidelines for the trail designations that have been tested through experience.  The powder blue (novice/intermediate) trail will be 2 or 2 ½ miles long, with rollers, and is machine made also.  A true blue trail with tighter turns, bigger and steeper berms is in the plans.  The black diamond trail has a steeper average grade with some fall line on ledge and more technical features such as jumps and drops.  It will be a single track and mostly hand built."

Conrad explained the design process, " We meet with the client, look at topos, identify wet areas or other areas of concern, and for the green trails and machine built trails, access is very important. You want the green trail to start very near the top of the lift."  To cross downhill ski trails, the trail needs to be flat and straight. Out west, berms and other features can be constructed in ski trails due to a higher snow pack.

Further down the green trail, past a beautifully constructed wide berm with grade reversals to manage water and to control the speed of the rider, Kerry, another Gravity Logic employee, was running a full sized excavator across a couple of hundred feet of fractured rock.  A few days ago, the jack hammers crushed a swath of ledge into a manageable pile of rock.   Kerry is from out west, and this is the first time he has experienced the challenges of building trail in the east, but he was very enthusiastic about the opportunity to build here.  As trail builders in the  north east know, rocks are a blessing and curse.  

While the new down hill trails are in progress, building also continues on the cross country network, Charlemont Trail System or CTS.  Two miles of beginner trail, Bear Cub, leave from Berkshire East parking lot. Turns are being polished and new connections are being built so making it possible to stay on single track and avoid double tracks.  Also two blue cross country trails were built in the last year, Farmstead and MST, near the top of the Berkshire East side. Harold Green, a former president of NEMBA, is now leading the work on polishing turns, benching off camber sections, and putting boardwalks on wet areas.  Also with more riders, the trails are becoming smoother and a bit easier to ride. But don't be fooled, these trails will kick the butt of even advanced riders!  For those who enjoy climbing, the trails in the ski area property will be open to ride to the top of the mountain with a pass.

Over the past four years, Harold brought the resources of NEMBA into play.  Under the auspices of NEMBA, CTS has been awarded an RTP grant to build boardwalks on the Rice Brook Trail in the Warfield hub, has sponsored a NEMBA trail school, and provided a tool crib.  The second edition of the CTS map has been published and is available at Zoar Outdoor and Berkshire East.  Information, led rides and event listings are also available on the CTS Facebook page. Harold is, " excited to have more people riding in the community." He is also looking forward to having more events, possibly a weekend festival with races and rides sometime in 2015.

Bruce Lessels, owner of Zoar Outdoor, says, "right now, the trails appeal to a certain type of rider. One who is very fit and doesn't mind rough trails and climbing. However, the new blue and green trails at Berkshire East will appeal to the intermediate riders, and we are looking for more places to put trails that will be good for a wider range of abilities." MIT recently had an intercollegiate mountain biking race with many different events such as short track and double slalom. A number of the racers stayed at the Zoar Outdoor campground. Some of the bike trails lead right from the campground.  "The single tracks at Zoar were originally offshoots of cross country ski trails." Bruce continues, " There was only a trickle of mountain bikers, but it is becoming a steady stream. "

Riding the trails in the Charlemont can be a challenge, but the rewards are well worth the effort.  Riders pop out of the forest to see views of farms, the valley below and surrounding hill tops.  Following trails with the names of General Hospital and Get Smart, the rider will find an abandoned TV tower, purchased by the town in 1960's because there was no TV reception in the valley.    Or skip the climb, and park on East Road (a dirt road behind Berkshire East) and ride to check out the 227 ft wind turbine and the 1800 solar panels which provide 100% of the electricity for the ski resort and then some.

This is truly a unique area. The trails are pure New England with a taste of Whistler. Have fun exploring the ups and downs of Charlemont, and don't forget your extra tube, a  snack, and a sense of adventure.  You'll need it!

411:
Berkshire East Mountain Resort
Zoar Outdoor
Charlemont Trail System

By Paula Burton (SingleTracks #137)

Answering the Riddle at Charlemont Trails

Sunday, June 8, 2014

 "By this time in my mountain biking career I had already been out West once, California to be specific, and ridden their trails with hour long ascents and descents.  I knew what he was referring to.  Aside from the White Mountain notches and their paved passes, I was hard pressed to come up with an answer.  Kingdom Trails offers some of the longest ascents and descents, but they are still far short of the climbing and descending I had seen in Noble Canyon. And sure, Massachusetts had hills, but to get any real elevation you had to lap them or link together a ride of dozens of miles.

Then I started hearing the rumors from Western Massachusetts:  'Climbing, climbing and more climbing!' And eventually the name 'Charlemont Trails'; entered my consciousness."

Head over to the Nor'Easter Backcountry blog for a nice write up regarding our very own Charlemont Trail system!

Western MA

Pittsfield State Forest

1041 Cascade St
Pittsfield  Massachusetts  01201
United States

(413) 442-8992

Easy

20%

Moderate

50%

Difficult

30%

Description

Pittsfield State Forest is a great place to ride mountain bikes. For those who don't know the state forest, it's roughly 8 x 2 miles (10,000 acres) along the Taconic Ridge, sandwiched between downtown Pittsfield and the NY state line. A DCR trail map is available at the state forest, and the following description uses trail names from that map. The best map for "the big picture" is the Rubel Bike Map for Western Massachusetts (bikemaps.com). To get to the state forest, go west on West Street from downtown Pittsfield and follow state forest signs (via Churchill and Cascade Streets)

If you like to camp, consider camping in the state forest from May to October. I prefer the sites on top of the ridge near Berry Pond. The downside to the top of the ridge is that there's only a composting toilet and no running water. The good news is that the relative isolation is wonderful; take your shower and get drinking water in the camping area at the bottom of the ridge.

The most interesting rides in Pittsfield State Forest are north and south from the top of the ridge near Berry Pond, starting out in either direction on Taconic Skyline Trail (the parallel Taconic Crest Trail is hiking only). Other than the camping, the biggest advantage of starting from Berry Pond is that the Taconic Skyline Trail, which has a rough surface because of motorized vehicle use, is slightly downhill in both north and south directions from Berry Pond and is thus easier to ride.

To ride your bike to the top of the ridge near Berry Pond from the entrance to the state forest, ride Honwee Trail towards the top of the ridge, then use the paved road the rest of the way to the top. Honwee Trail is actually a loop trail, but stay on the section closest to the paved road, which is only moderately steep. The Honwee Trail leg that is furthest from the paved road is extremely steep. Once on top of the ridge, there's a spectacular view west into New York State. Before heading north or south, ride some of the trails and roads in and around the camping area and pond.

The loop north follows Taconic Skyline Trail along the ridge to Potter Mountain Road. Turn right onto Potter Mountain Road and immediately look for Potter Mountain Trail descending to the left. At the bottom, turn left to visit Balance Rock--quite spectacular as balanced rocks go in New England. Retrace your route from Balance Rock and follow Balance Rock Trail back to the bottom of Honwee Trail near the state forest entrance. There's an interesting variation to this route by turning right to follow Churchill Brook a short distance, then crossing the brook onto a sweet single-track trail. Just don't climb back up the ridge.

The trip south from Berry Pond can be done several ways. The toughest part of riding south is finding the right trail down from the ridge (hint: descend first to West Street, then ride the CCC Trail if you want to go further south). To return to Berry Pond, you'll either have to retrace your route--tough because it's uphill--or make a loop by riding paved roads.

The most interesting ride south from Berry Pond is to drop a vehicle at the campground at October Mountain State Forest (alternatively, leave your vehicle in the center of Lenox). Start the ride from Berry Pond in Pittsfield State Forest. Ride south on the trail system to US 20 across from Hancock Shaker Village. Turn right onto US 20, then immediately left and ride back roads (mostly dirt) over Lenox Mountain to Lenox via Osceola, Dunbar, and Reservoir Roads. Do a side trip on a jeep road to the fire tower on Lenox Mountain, if desired (I saw black bear when I did this). As you approach Lenox, ride through John Drummond Kennedy Park, which is a wonderful mtb destination in its own right, by entering the "back door" from Reservoir Road. From downtown Lenox, ride east to October Mountain State Forest. If you ride east on Housatonic Street from Lenox, you can avoid traffic by crossing the Housatonic River on a footbridge just north of the October Mountain State Forest campground entrance.

If you've still got legs, ride within October Mountain State Forest, but be advised that you're at the low point within the state forest and it's a pretty tough climb to the top.

Note:

Over the last couple of years Berkshire NEMBA, working with DCR staff, have put in a highly enjoyable network of trails in the eastern section of the forest. A very detailed map of these trails is available as a handout at the guard shack at the forest's entrance.

By Jim Logan Read more about Pittsfield State Forest

Local Shops

Arcadian Shop

Berkshire Bike & Boards

Plaine's Bike Ski & Snowboard

Links to Relevant Resources

Western MA

October Mountain State Forest, Lee

317 Woodland Rd
Lee  Massachusetts  01238
United States

413 243-1778

Easy

25%

Moderate

40%

Difficult

35%

Description

October Mountain State Forest (hereafter, OMSF) is the largest state forest in Massachusetts. It's about 16,500 acres or 25 square miles in area. It lies in Berkshire County southeast of Pittsfield and east of Lenox. A DCR trail map is available at the campground or at the state forest headquarters immediately north of the campground. The best commercially-available map to give the big picture of the state forest and surrounding areas is Rubel BikeMaps for Western Massachusetts (bikemaps.com).

This ride description (map) starts at the state campground on the western boundary of the state forest. There are several possible start points for a mountain bike ride in OMSF, but this circuit takes advantage of the steep elevation changes between the Housatonic River and the interior or the state forest. If you don't consider that an advantage, you might want to start your ride elsewhere in the state forest (but, remember, this is called mountain biking).

Just in case you do want to start from another location in the state forest, let's talk about where you can drive a 2WD automobile. The roads around the perimeter of OMSF are fine for 2WD, except for the road north from the campground, which eventually becomes a 4WD road (Roaring Brook Road). There's only one road into the interior of the state forest that's suitable for a 2WD vehicle. That road rises from the Housatonic River a short distance north of the campground and gradually turns to the right to run southeast to Becket. The road that rises from the river is Schermerhorn Road--be careful, because some maps (e.g., DeLorme's) give it a different name. On top of the mountain, turn right at the "T" intersection, then go straight. Although the road changes names, one road flows into another, and you'll end up on County Road, which runs southeast to MA 8 in Becket.

More information about OMSF:

First, a plug for the campground. It's sunny, grassy, terraced and real pretty. It offers wonderful access to Lenox, my favorite town in the Berkshires. Try this on a nice summer weekday (unfortunately, it won't be as nice on a summer weekend): bike to Lenox. Ride your bike in John Drummond Kennedy park, which is a community park with remarkably good mountain bike trails. Go out the park's back door onto Reservoir Road/Under Mountain Road and visit Tanglewood, the summer home of the Boston Symphony Orchestra. Walk the grounds of Tanglewood(no bikes inside the grounds, so bring a lock) and listen to the orchestra practice for that evening's paying customers.

The terrain in OMSF rises very steeply about 800 feet from the Housatonic River. Once you're on top, elevation changes are gradual. On top, there's a surprising amount of wet terrain, so plan accordingly. ORV's can ride in OMSF, so some of the trails are rough. The AT, off limits to bicycles, runs within OMSF from the south to northeast boundaries. On some maps, the most prominent landmark within the state forest is Washington Mountain Lake, which doesn't exist: that lake's dam leaked, so it has reverted to a permanent marshy area.

Because of the Housatonic River and some railroad tracks, driving to the OMSF campground can be confusing. The directions in DEM literature to OMSF campground are, "Mass Pike to exit 2, Rte. 20 west, take right on Center St., follow signs." An alternative that avoids the center of Lee is to go east for 1 mile on US 20 from Exit 2. Turn hard left onto Maple Street, then bear right (no 90 degree turns) at subsequent intersections. You'll end up on Woodland Road, which runs by the campground. If you're driving from Lenox or Pittsfield, your best bet is a good map (e.g., Rubel BikeMap).

Finally, here's my recommended ride within OMSF. Turn right as you exit the campground and ride north on Woodland Road. About 1 mile north, turn sharply to the right to keep the water (the Housatonic River) on the left side. Ride past Schermerhorn Road on the right, which is paved, and continue north along the river on the 4WD road until you come to pavement and a crossing road, New Lenox Road. Turn right and the paved road soon becomes another 4WD road that climbs steadily. Take a right at a sloppy "T" intersection and pass Farnum Reservoir on your right. After you pass Farnum Reservoir, look for trailheads on the left side that you might come back to. Also, locate a smooth dirt road on the right side that is Schermerhorn Road. Continue straight until you come to a 4-way intersection with West Branch Road. This is a very distinct intersection with flat, nearly treeless terrain.

This 4-way intersection is the most recognizable landmark on top of the mountain and is your reference point for the rest of the ride. To return to the campground, you initially continue straight southeast from the 4-way intersection, but let's first look at some options for additional riding from this intersection.

If you reverse direction and ride northwest from the 4-way intersection and take the second right onto a jeep road/double-track trail, you can make a loop to the north by taking right turns at all intersections, then taking a final left to return to the 4-way intersection. On the Rubel and DEM maps, you can see that this series of trails passes Ashley Lake and Sandwash Reservoir on the left side as you ride the loop in a clockwise direction.

If you turn right (west) at the 4-way intersection, you can make a clockwise loop over to Schermerhorn Road by turning left onto Navin Road (now a wood trail--there's a sign in the tree) then right onto Spruce Trail. This loop circles what was to have been Washington Mountain Lake and brings you back to the 4-way intersection if you turn right onto Schermerhorn Road and right at the subsequent "T" intersection. Incidentally, if you continue west on Navin Road, it descends the mountain to the vicinity of the campground. However, Navin Road is very steep and very rocky--I'd classify it as an "expert" descent. I did it once, but I won't go that way again.

When you're done riding around on top of the mountain and want to return to the campground, ride southeast from the 4-way intersection. Take a hard right over your right shoulder at the next dirt road onto County Road (County Road also continues straight southeast from this intersection). Follow County road in a westerly direction until the smooth dirt road turns sharply to the right. At this point, bear left onto a rough road that becomes a steep descent along a stream bed. As best I can figure, this rough road to the left is the "old" County Road, which becomes Washington Mountain Road when it crosses the Washington/Lee town line. Caution: do not take this route during times of heavy stream runoff. There's a stream crossing at the bottom that may be impossible (i.e., impassable) during heavy stream runoff, and your only recourse would be to climb back up the mountain to find another route down the mountain (e.g. Schermerhorn Road).

Washington Mountain Road eventually becomes paved. At the stop sign, turn right onto a paved road that becomes Woodland Road and runs past the campground on the right.

You'll find additional trailheads at the south boundary of the state forest along Yokum Pond Road (Becket Road in Lee). There's a trail that runs counter-clockwise from the east side of Buckley Dunton Lake, but this trail can be very muddy. There are two other trailheads further west along Yokum Pond Road that run in a northerly direction towards Finerty Pond. The trail along the south shore of Finerty Pond is very pretty.

For those who share my enthusiasm for "transit" rides in and between state forests, my description of Pittsfield State Forest includes a transit ride from Pittsfield State Forest to the campground at OMSF via Lenox. Another transit ride from OMSF that includes a lot of dirt roads and wood trails is to continue southeast on County Road in the above ride description to MA 8 in Becket. Turn right onto MA 8 then immediately right onto Fred Snow Road. Go south to MA 23 in East Otis and follow signs into the campground and trail areas of Tolland State Forest. If you're really ambitious, continue south on dirt roads from Tolland State Forest to Granville State Forest, which boasts another campground and more great trails. Go south from Tolland State Forest on Schoolhouse Road, cross MA 57 onto Hartland Road and ride into Granville State Forest. Is this a great area to ride mountain bikes, or what?

By Jim Logan Read more about October Mountain State Forest, Lee

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Western MA

Mount Holyoke Range State Park, Amherst

1515 West St
Amherst  Massachusetts  01002
United States

413 253-2883

Easy

35%

Moderate

35%

Difficult

30%

Description

How do you define a great day Mountain Biking? Is it miles of buff singletrack snaking up and down a forested loamy ridge or numerous rocky technical trails working their way up and down along a rocky spine. Which ever suits your fancy find it at Mount Holyoke Range State Park.


The northern side of the Notch features 'Earles' Trails' - Miles of smooth flowing single track - abounding in challenging climbs and swoopy descents. All envisioned and uncovered in the forest by the talented folks from Hampshire College. These trails are mostly not on State Forest land but are incredibly fun.

South of the ridge find the famous 'Batchelor Street' trails consisting of such memorable challenges as 'Serpant God' the aptly named 'Technical Trail' and similar rock piles lovingly coaxed into trails by the legendary Pete Vangel and his loyal band of volunteers.

Either side is a great way to spend a morning or afternoon or, for the fearless and strong of leg, a combination of the two might be the ultimate experience. Though with 3000 acres and over 30 miles of marked trails to explore you'll probably need to spend more than one day here.

There are some nice trails on the Skinner State Park side, accross from Rte. 116. The Skinner State Park side allows you to work your way along the southern side of the range then climb Mt. Holyoke proper -- though the final ascent is paved it's worth it for the view (see Skinner map).

   
Directions:
From the Massachusetts Turnpike (I-90) take exit 5. Then take route 33 north to route 116 north to the Amherst town line. You can park at the Notch Visitor's Center which is on route 116. Alternatively about a mile and a hlaf south of the center turn turn onto Amherst Street and then left on Batchelor Street. The Bachellor Street parking area will be on your left.


Cautions:
Be careful when riding near the Notch Visitor's Center. Kids and dogs abound. Also, yield to equestrians when you see them.

By Harold Green Read more about Mount Holyoke Range State Park, Amherst

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