Where We Went : Ashuwillticook Rail Trail/Lanesborough entrance
When We Went : Mid-June
Difficulty (Boots 1 - 10) : No Boots! (except for our rain boots!)
Trail Length : 11.2 Miles (We only walked about 1.5 miles before turning around.)
How Long it Took Us : 2 Hours
Overview : In the 1840s the Pittsfield/North Adams railroad made an attempt to extend the Housatonic railroad from Pittsfield to Rutland, VT. After changing ownership a number of times, the corridor became disused in 1990, and local residents clamored for support of a multi-use trail. The old railroad tracks were converted into an 11.2 mile trail stretching from Lanesborough to Adams, opening in three phases in 2001, 2004, and 2017.
The 10-foot wide paved path is accessible for all kinds of recreation : strollers, bicycles, wheelchairs, rollerblades, running, walking, and skiing in the winter months.
You can access the trail from the Lanesborough side or the Adams entrance. Our location has us closer to the trailhead in Lanesborough, with parking areas at the base of the entrance road for the Berkshire Mall (don't bother...well..Target).
The word Ashuwillticook (ash-oo-will-ti-cook) is from the Native American name for the south branch of the Hoosic River and literally means “at the in-between pleasant river,” or more commonly, “the pleasant river in between the hills."
From the parking area, the trail enters into the woods parallel to the Hoosic River and MA 8, which is heavily screened by trees. During the first mile of your walk, Berkshire Pond will be on your left. If you venture farther, you will see the 418-acre Cheshire Reservoir. It was built in the 1860s to provide power for the area's textile mills. Keep an eye out for Mount Greylock, on a clear day you can just make out the tower!
What We Dug : The sun wouldn't shine, it had rained all day.
Boredom set in and the kids itched to play.
They sat there together, with nothing to do.
They sat and they sat, feeling quite blue...ENOUGH!
Now I'm no Dr. Seuss, but you know those days I'm rhyming about: wet, dark, and dreary, the rain seems to leave us with no other choice but to shelter indoors. With no Cat in the Hat to step in and save the day, the children begin to take matters into their own dysfunctional paws. Whining becomes the backing track to your day. Some strange trick of the universe makes even those trusty screens not enough to tame the beasts (no shame in the tablet game). Every third sentence contains the "B" word. No, not the one describing your overall demeanor after finding yourself marooned with tiny tyrants. BORED. That one. The one they'll say enough that it BORED a hole through your skull. Verbal trepanning aside, you know what they say - if you can't beat 'em, join 'em, and in this case, I completely agree.
We needed an outlet for all the pent up energy we had, both negative and positive, and nature is the ideal conduit.
Ashuwillticook was our ticket out of the doldrums (our Tock-et for all the Phantom Tollbooth fans). Paved, flat, and easy trail invited us to skip, run, explore and release some steam. Puddles were in abundance, simply begging boots to jump. The overpass of the 2nd mall entrance road (direct path to Target!) is a reverberating echo chamber. The kids had a blast screaming their lungs out, with no threat of reproach. The rail trail's accessibility and location make it a heavily trafficked destination during nicer weather, but because it was raining, we had the place to ourselves. With the absence of people come the emergence of the areas inhabitants. All sorts of bird species were visible and active during our hike, including egrets and red-winged blackbirds.
The highlight of our romp in the rain was our turtle encounter. On one side we saw a ravaged nest and the shells that were left behind from another animals feast. On the other was a mama turtle in the middle of her own egg endeavor. Initially seeing her laying trailside at the beginning of our walk, we spent a few moments of curious study and went on our way. When we had turned around for our return trip, we found her laying the last of her eggs and making her way back to the water. Her "shell-ter," as Mason called it - yup. no doubt that's my kid.
We returned to the car somewhat soggy, but refreshed and more importantly, re-centered. The dark cloud that hovered over us indoors was no match for the towering nimbuses that swiftly deflated our funk.
If our romp in the rain tortoise anything, (sorry. had to do it.) it's that we shouldn't be so quick to dismiss the day and its possibilities solely based on the weather.
Here are FIVE reasons to grab your galoshes and take a stroll in the rain
1. Population: Or lack of. Pretty obvious, but since most of us run for cover when it starts to rain, you'll find you have most places to yourself, offering more quiet and more time with your thoughts.
2. pH/Pollution: Go get a free facial from Mother Nature. Some studies say that rain water is extremely alkaline in nature which can be beneficial for both skin and hair. But even if you skip the deluge for a clay mask later, know that as raindrops fall, they draw particles of soot, smog, and other types of pollution to the ground, creating cleaner air for us all to breathe.
3. Petrichor: The word means "the earthy scent produced when rain falls on dry soil" and who doesn't love it? Scientifically, there's a chemical reaction that's taking place here, but all I know is that smell always seems to have a calming effect.
4. Powerless: If there's one thing we can't control, it's the weather. It's the decision-maker in so many of our day-to-day choices. Turn it on it's head. Making the choice to take a walk no matter the weather, will help you give up control and lean in to whatever life throws at you.
5. Perspective: Look around you through different eyes. Whether you walk the same route everyday or constantly switch it up, rain sets a different mood. The sun can't be relied upon for it's constant glow and the gloomy reflections can be equally dazzling as a sunny sky. Just as in life, some of those seemingly lowest moments turn out to be the most magnificent.
What We Could Do Without : To be honest, the worst part of our day was behind us. Once we got outdoors, the only thing we could do without was heading back in.
Keep Your Eyes Peeled For : Herons, egrets, red winged blackbirds, turtles, yellow perch, bass, northern pike, ospreys, beavers, mallards, bald eagle, Canadian geese
Must Know Before You Go’s : Parking is available on both the left and right of the Lanesborough entrance. An information kiosk is at the start of the trailhead. Bathroom facilities available from dawn to dusk. Paved, wide, flat trail is handicapped accessible. Picnic tables and benches along the trail. Fishing is permitted. Leashed dogs OK. Be aware that the trail is predominately used for bicycles and follow proper etiquette. (you may hear, "on your left!" just move over to the side.) There are some well marked cross streets that run through the trail. Be cautious and yield to vehicles.
Directions : To reach the Lanesborough trailhead from I-90, take Exit 2 to the toll plaza and bear right onto US 20/Housatonic St. toward Pittsfield. In 0.7 mile turn right onto Main St. Go 0.4 mile, and turn slightly left to remain on US 20 W. Go 10.2 miles and turn right in Pittsfield onto MA 9/East St. toward Dalton/Northampton. Go 1.4 miles and continue straight onto Merrill Road, and then go 1.8 miles and bear left onto MA 8/Cheshire Road. Go 1.5 miles and turn left onto US 7/MA 8 Connector Road. Parking is on the left and the right.
To reach the Adams trailhead, follow the directions above to MA 8/Cheshire Road. Go 12.1 miles north on MA 8/Cheshire Road, and turn left onto Center St./Park St. In 0.3 mile, turn right onto Hoosac St., and then take an immediate right onto Depot St.
Scroll through for more pictures of our Ashuwillticook adventure!