Friday, August 19, 2011

Ashuwillticook Rail Trail

 Ride or walk along this former railroad line now a scenic, paved 11.2 mile-long, passive recreation path with a gentle grade and smooth surface, as it passes along the Hoosic River, between Mount Greylock and the Hoosac Mountain Range. Access oprtins are at the Berkshire Mall entrance, Farnam;s Road or from downtown Adams at the Discover the Berkshires Visitors Center. Walking, biking, roller blading, picnicking, and car-top boating.

The Ashuwillticook Rail Trail is a former railroad corridor converted into a 10-foot (3.0 m) wide paved universally accessible scenic rail trail path. The Ashuwillticook (ash-oo-will-ti-cook) Rail Trail runs parallel to Route 8 through the towns of Cheshire, Lanesborough and Adams, Massachusetts and has become a popular resource for biking, walking, roller-blading, and jogging. The trail is managed by the Massachusetts Department of Conservation and Recreation (DCR).
The southern end of the trail begins at the entrance to the Berkshire Mall off Route 8 in Lanesborough and travels 11 miles (18 km) north to the center of Adams. Parking lots and restrooms are available along the way.

The Ashuwillticook Rail Trail passes through the Hoosac River Valley, between Mount Greylock and the Hoosac Mountains. Cheshire Reservoir, the Hoosic River, and associated wetland communities flank much of the trail offering outstanding views and abundant wildlife. The word Ashuwillticook (ash-oo-will-ti-cook) is from the American Indian name for the south branch of the Hoosic River and literally means “at the in-between pleasant river,” or in common tongue, “the pleasant river in between the hills.” The name was adopted for the trail as a way to reconnect people to local history and the natural environment.

History of the rail corridor

Built during the industrial boom of the 1800s, the railway proved to be a vital commercial link from the Atlantic Seaboard to communities which would have otherwise been isolated in the Berkshire Hills.

In 1845, the Pittsfield and North Adams Railroad developed this corridor with the goal of extending the Housatonic Railroad north to Rutland, Vermont. While the track was under construction, the company was acquired by the Western Railroad, which later became part of the Boston and Albany Railroad (B&A), as their North Adams Branch. Mineral traffic developed on the line and a number of limestone operations went into business. The New York Central Railroad took over the B&A in 1900, and upgraded the line, which was sold to the Boston and Maine Corporation in 1981. As a connection to an existing track in North Adams, Boston and Maine ran the line with declining success until they abandoned rail service in 1990. Seeing the potential for recreational use of the corridor, citizens organized to preserve the right-of-way, eventually gaining the local and political support needed to make this rail trail a reality.

Information courtesy of