Awesome Berkshires Biking – The Alford Loop

The Berkshires has some of the most scenic bicycle riding on the East Coast. One of my favorite rides is known as the Alford Loop, which takes you through some really beautiful spots in Great Barrington & Alford. The Loop is an an approximately 24 mile ride, round trip, from the center of Great Barrington (the ride above is slightly longer because it leaves from just outside of town, on Rte 7). You can easily make the ride shorter by turning back if & when you get tired.

Alford Cows

Alford Loop Pastoral

I never tire of riding the Alford Loop. It’s like the greatest hits of Berkshires biking because you get to take in the vast breadth of the natural splendor here. You’ll travel on rolling country roads, surrounded by beautiful farmland, open wildflower meadows, babbling brooks, rivers & streams & get some of the best mountain views around. And, there’s all sorts of wildlife abound. On one of my recent Alford Loop rides, I witnessed a porcupine scampering across the road at dusk & there are always lots of cows (not to worry – they’re behind fences (most of the time…), white tail deer, horses, foxes, rabbits & oodles of beautiful birds. And, there are generally very few cars on the roads for the Alford portion of the ride. You’ll be fine doing this ride on a hybrid bike. While a road bike is always nice, it definitely is not necessary. You can click the featured image above for a printable ride map & cue sheet or, you can also  click on this link.

More Alford Loop Scenery

Alford Loop Meadow & Mountains

If you’re in need of a bike rental, a tune-up or repair of your own bike, or just need some new equipment or accessories, Berkshire Bike & Board, located just outside of downtown Great Barrington, on Rte 7, is great. They also run free group rides during the summer & have free maps at the shop with some of the other popular Berkshires rides.

If you’re interested in other rides in the Berkshires, just give me a shout. Have a blast on the Alford Loop & enjoy the scenery!

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Berkshires Biking- The Ashuwillticook Rail Trail

One of our favorite outdoor family activities in the Berkshires is biking. This will be the first of several posts on some of our favorite bike rides here.

We love biking here not only because it’s a great workout but also because you get to take in all of the natural beauty of the Berkshires – the rolling hills, glorious mountains, pastoral farmland, crystal clear lakes & lots of wildlife (In fact, I just observed a porcupine scurrying across the road on my last ride!). The bike rides here range from relatively flat & easy to very hilly & challenging.

One of our favorite rides with the kids is the Ashuwillticook Rail Trail (say that 10 times fast), in Lanesborough. The reason why this makes for such a great family ride is that it’s mostly flat & not too strenuous. Yet, you get to ride alongside beautiful lakes (including the 418 acre Cheshire Reservoir), mountains, streams & babbling brooks – without car traffic (with the exception of a couple of crossings that are clearly marked & difficult for the kids to get through on their own, because of strategically placed barriers).

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Cheshire Reservoir. Awesome!

The Ashuwillticook Rail Trail is a former railroad corridor converted into a 10-foot wide paved trail. It’s also a great place for jogging & rollerblading. The Rail Trail runs parallel to Route 8 through the towns of Cheshire, Lanesborough & Adams. The southern end of the rail trail (which is where you’ll probably want to start) begins at the entrance to the Berkshire Mall off MA Rte. 8 in Lanesborough & travels 11.2 miles north to the center of Adams. So, the total ride is 22 miles and takes several hours. It’s just under a 40 minute drive from downtown Great Barrington to the start of the Rail Trail – well worth the trip.

There’s a cute little ice cream shop along the ride – in Cheshire – that also sells cold beverages. And, when you get to the end of the trail in Adams, there’s a really nice visitor’s center with very clean restrooms & snack machines. Once inside the visitors center be sure to check out the Thunderbolt Ski Museum which features a fun exhibit (with a movie) on the 10th Mountain Division & the now legendary Thunderbolt Ski Race.

Thunderbolt Ski Museum in Adams

Thunderbolt Ski Museum in Adams

The Thunderbolt Ski Race started in the 1930s & still takes place every year on nearby Mount Greylock - the highest point in Massachussets.  Once in Adams, you can also walk around the streets near the Visitors Center & check out the beautiful classic brick mill buildings – some of which have been converted into loft residences.

Have a blast on the Rail Trail!