Western MA

The Whole Enchilada Ride!

Date

9/21/14 (All day)

Come to the Third Annual Charlemont Trails Systems' Endurance Event. All proceeds for this event will be used for expenses related to building and improving the CTS trails system.

A few words about the courses. Both rides will be primarily on CTS single track with a few short sections of paved or farm roads connecting things. These trails are located on the hillsides of the Deerfield River Valley. The topography is rather steep, so therefore the climbs are rather long, fitness is a requirement for this event. There is no repeating loop...

Water stops will be available at the Summit and Base area of Berkshire East, at Zoar Outdoor, and at the Warfield House.

Registration for the event includes a post ride meal and beverage at the Crazy Horse Lounge.

Thanks go to our key sponsors, Berkshire East Ski Resort, NEMBA, Zoar Outdoor Adventure Resort and the Warfield House at Valley View Farm.

Register at www.bikereg.com/cts-whole-enchilada-2014 Read more about The Whole Enchilada Ride!

Location

Charlemont Trails (CTS), Charlemont, MA

Chapter

Pioneer Valley

Trail

Event Leader

Harold Green
pvnemba@gmail.com

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

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Plaine's Bike Ski & Snowboard

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Western MA

October Mountain State Forest

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

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Arcadian Shop

Plaine's Bike Ski Snowboard

Berkshire Bike Ski & Board

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Western MA

Mount Holyoke Range State Park

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

Local Shops

Bikes Unlimited

Highland Hardware and Bike Shop

Plaine's Bike Ski & Snowboard

Berkshire Bike and Boards

Northampton Bicycle

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Berkshire

  • The Berkshire chapter of NEMBA is responsible for trail advocacy in the Berkshire County region of Western Massachusetts. Our members act as liaisons between the highly active mountain bike community and the various state, town, and other landowners to help promote responsible trail development, maintenance, and usage.

  • NEMBA Trail School in Keene, NH

    Come learn how to build and care for great singletracks. Join us on June 6th for our NEMBA Trail School in Keene, NH

    Click here for details

  • Read Me

    NEMBA COVID-19 Statement

    Read the NEMBA statement on COVID-19

    Click here for details

Pioneer Valley

  • Pioneer Valley NEMBA operates in the Connecticut River Valley comprising Franklin, Hampshire and Hamden counties. Some of the key parks we work and ride in are Mt. Grace SF, Wendell SF, Mt. Toby Wildlife Management Area, Sugarloaf State Reservation, Montague Plains Wildlife Management Area, Erving SF, Dubuque SF, Holyoke Range SF, Robinson SP and the D.A.R. State Forest.

    We welcome new members and volunteers, so join us to make the Pioneer Valley an even better place to ride.

    PV NEMBA's Facebook Page keeps you current with chapter rides, events and discussions.

  • Charlemont - Hawley get $14,000 for trails.

    Click here for details

  • NEMBA Trail School in Keene, NH

    Come learn how to build and care for great singletracks. Join us on June 6th for our NEMBA Trail School in Keene, NH

    Click here for details

  • Read Me

    NEMBA COVID-19 Statement

    Read the NEMBA statement on COVID-19

    Click here for details

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