11 Bike Trails Western Massachusetts to Explore

bike trails western ma

Western Massachusetts is a hidden gem for bikers, with incredible trails for riders of all abilities.

If you’re a cyclist looking for a great destination, look no further than Western Massachusetts. Tucked in and aroubike trails western mand the Berkshires, the Holyoke Range, and the Connecticut River Valley are some of the best bike trails in the region.

From leisurely rail trails to challenging mountain bike routes, Western Massachusetts has it all. And as someone who has enjoyed many bike trips in this area, I can attest that these trails are truly top-notch.

Whether you’re a seasoned cyclist or a beginner looking to explore the world of biking, Western Massachusetts should be at the top of your list.

So come along with me as I share some of my favorite bike trails in the region.

Ashuwillticook Rail Trail

The Ashuwillticook Rail Trail is a 12.7-mile bike path that runs through the beautiful Hoosac Valley in the Berkshires region of Western Massachusetts.

The name of the trail comes from the Native American word Ashuwillticook, which means “the pleasant river in between the hills,” a fitting description for the trail’s peaceful and scenic surroundings.

As you ride along the trail, you’ll be treated to glimpses of the majestic Berkshires, including Massachusetts’ highest peak, Mount Greylock, and the meandering Hoosac River.

The trail is paved and well-maintained, making it ideal for a leisurely ride or a more challenging workout.

Along the way, you’ll pass through historic towns and natural areas, and you may even catch a glimpse of some of the trail’s former railroad structures.

The trail is easily accessible, with parking available at the Discover the Berkshires Visitor Center in Adams and at the old Berkshire Mall in Lanesborough.

If you’re looking to make a weekend of your visit to the Ashuwillticook Rail Trail, there are plenty of other activities and attractions to enjoy in the area.

You can visit the Mass MoCA, a world-class modern art museum in North Adams, or explore the Mount Greylock State Reservation. And if you’re in need of a place to stay, the Topia Inn is the only bed and breakfast located directly on the trail.

This eco-friendly inn offers comfortable accommodations and even provides bikes for rent, so you don’t have to worry about lugging your own out to the Berkshires.

Mass Central Rail Trail

The Mass Central Rail Trail is a 104-mile corridor that runs across the state of Massachusetts.

The trail is being built on the former route of the Massachusetts Central Railroad, which was destroyed by a hurricane in 1938. Today, nearly 50 miles of the trail have been converted into usable paths, and work is ongoing to complete the entire route.

The Mass Central Rail Trail offers a unique opportunity to explore the history and natural beauty of the Bay State. The trail runs from Boston to Northampton, passing through a variety of landscapes and historic towns along the way.

Belchertown section

The Belchertown section of the Mass Central Rail Trail is a 15.8-km trail that offers a unique and adventurous ride through the natural beauty of Western Massachusetts.

Located near downtown Belchertown, the trail is a hard-packed dirt path that winds through beaver marshes, hardwood forests, and mixed pine forests.

As a shared path, you may encounter runners, horseback riders, and dog walkers along the way, so be prepared to share the trail with others.

Although the Belchertown section of the Mass Central Rail Trail is not as well-maintained as some other trails in the region, it is still a popular destination for hikers, mountain bikers, and runners.

The trail is generally considered to be easy, and takes an average of three hours to complete.

However, you may find that you have the trail mostly to yourself during quieter times of day, allowing you to enjoy some solitude and peace in the great outdoors.

If you’re looking for a unique and adventurous trail to explore in Western Massachusetts, the Belchertown section of the Mass Central Rail Trail is well worth a visit.

Norwottuck Branch Trail

The Norwottuck Branch Rail Trail is a 11-mile trail that runs through the scenic landscape of Western Massachusetts, offering a peaceful and picturesque escape for cyclists and outdoor enthusiasts.

The trail stretches from Warren Wright Road in Belchertown to downtown Northampton, with primary trailheads located in Northampton, Hadley, Amherst, and Belchertown.

As you ride along the trail, you’ll be treated to a wealth of natural beauty and wildlife, with ample opportunities to spot a variety of birds and other animals along the way.

The eastern portion of the trail, located in Belchertown and Amherst, is particularly rich in natural areas, including a swamp with beaver lodges and a bridge over the Fort River.

Along the way, you’ll find a number of side trails that are perfect for exploring on foot or by bike, including the Brickyard Trail and the Sanctuary Trails.

As you near Amherst, you’ll also have the chance to stroll along the Bluebird Trail, a charming path covered with bluebird nesting boxes that offers glimpses of these beautiful birds and other meadow birds.

In the fall, the Holyoke Range provides a stunning backdrop to the trail, with the vibrant colors of the season making for an unforgettable ride.

If you’re a seasoned cyclist or just looking to enjoy a peaceful ride through nature, the Norwottuck Branch Rail Trail is a must-visit destination.

Continuing the Ride into Northampton

As you continue your ride on the Norwottuck Branch Rail Trail, you’ll pass through the tunnel in Amherst and enter the farm fields and malls of Hadley.

The Holyoke Range will reappear on your right, providing a stunning backdrop for your ride. As you approach the charming village of Hadley, you’ll be able to see the wide green common that gives the town its quaint, small-town feel.

From Hadley, the trail continues across the Connecticut River on the old railway bridge. From here, you’ll have a great view of the river and the surrounding landscape, and you may even see some boat traffic or collegiate rowing sculls practicing for races.

In the springtime, you can find wild edibles like fiddleheads growing around the bridge.

After crossing Damon Road, the trail winds its way into Northampton, where it connects with other rail trails on the Northampton Rail Trail network.

Whether you’re looking to continue your ride or simply explore the town, Northampton offers plenty of options for dining, shopping, and entertainment.

Assabet River Rail Trail

Assabet River Rail Trail

The Assabet River Rail Trail is an 8.6-mile paved trail that connects five historic mill towns in Western Massachusetts.

The trail offers a peaceful and scenic route for recreational activities, as well as a convenient option for bike commuters looking to reach the train station in South Acton.

Starting in Acton, the trail passes through the only farm along its route, and then crosses the Fort Pond Brook, which attracted mills to the area in the early 1700s.

The trail continues through wetlands and into Maynard, where you’ll cross the Assabet River on a newly-installed bridge and get a glimpse of the town’s renovated 19th-century mill buildings.

The paved portion of the trail ends at White Pond Road, but the railroad corridor continues for another 1.9 miles through the Assabet River National Wildlife Refuge on a dirt road that is more suitable for mountain bikes.

The next 2 miles of the trail, between Sudbury Road and the trailhead on MA 62/Wilkins Street in Hudson, are currently closed, as they cross private land.

Leaving Hudson, the trail enters a wooded area and begins a gentle climb towards Marlborough. As you pass beneath MA 85, you’ll enter the town of Marlborough and cross wetlands around Flagg Brook, which serves as a wildlife corridor.

From an overlook with benches, you’ll be able to see the Fort Meadow Reservoir in the distance. The trail continues for another mile before ending on Lincoln Street in Marlborough.

So if you’re looking to enjoy a peaceful ride through the great outdoors, or are looking for a convenient commuting option, the Assabet River Rail Trail is a must-visit destination in Western Massachusetts.

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Manhan Rail Trail

The Manhan Rail Trail is a beautiful 6-mile bike path that runs from Route 5 south of Northampton to downtown Northampton in Western Massachusetts.

The trail offers a variety of scenery, from breathtaking views of the Connecticut River to peaceful conservation land and wooded areas.

It’s also a great starting point for exploring the region’s other bike trails, such as the Norwottuck Rail Trail, which takes you past farmland and through charming towns, and the Northampton Bikeway, which offers a more urban cycling experience.

If you’re looking for something a little more challenging, Western Massachusetts also has plenty of off-road trails and single track options for more experienced cyclists.

And if you’re a fan of cyclocross racing, you’ll be happy to know that the region is home to an annual world-class race, as well as some of the country’s top cyclocross racers.

Whether you’re a seasoned cyclist or just looking to enjoy a leisurely ride through the great outdoors, the Manhan Rail Trail is a must-visit destination in Western Massachusetts.

With its beautiful scenery and variety of options for riders of all abilities, it’s the perfect place to explore on two wheels.

Canalside Rail Trail

The CanalSide Rail Trail in Turners Falls is a short but scenic and historic bike path that offers a unique glimpse into the region’s past.

The 3.7-mile trail begins at the McClelland Farm Road trailhead in Deerfield, and quickly takes you across the Connecticut River on a high bridge, offering stunning views of the water below.

As you continue your ride along the trail, you’ll pass by the Turners Falls Canal, a historic waterway that was built in 1798 to support boat traffic. Today, the canal is a haven for aquatic birds, including swans, ducks, and geese.

Alongside the canal, you’ll see the old buildings of the Keith Paper Company, dating back to 1877, and the Great Falls Discovery Center, a reclaimed mill building that houses free exhibits about the natural, cultural, and industrial history of the Connecticut River watershed.

Cape Cod Rail Trail

Bike Trails Western MA, Cape Cod Rail Trail

The Cape Cod Rail Trail is a 25-mile bike trail that runs through the beautiful Cape Cod region of Massachusetts.

The trail follows a 19th-century rail line that was once used to transport vacationers to the peninsula from Boston and New York City.

Today, the trail is a popular destination for families and recreational cyclists, offering a flat and easy ride through a diverse landscape of salt marshes, pine forests, and cranberry bogs.

The Cape Cod Rail Trail is completely paved, making it easy to access for riders of all abilities. As you ride along the trail, you’ll be able to enjoy the region’s natural beauty, as well as its rich history and culture.

It passes through charming seaports and sandy beaches, and offers plenty of opportunities to sample the region’s delicious seafood.

The trail offers a unique and beautiful way to explore the Cape Cod region, and is the perfect way to experience all that this historic and picturesque part of the country has to offer.

Southwick Rail Trail

Bike Trails Western MA, Southwind Rail Trail

The Southwick Rail Trail offers a picturesque and historic journey through the heart of Massachusetts and Connecticut.

Starting at the state line, the trail winds its way north, passing tthrough the town of Southwick, Massachusetts. Whether you prefer to cycle, jog, roller blade, or simply take a leisurely stroll, you will be delighted by the stunning open vistas of wetlands, agricultural fields, golf courses, and waterways.

Stretching 6.5 miles between the communities of Iola and Humboldt in Allen County, Kansas, the trail provides a scenic escape from the hustle and bustle of city life

As you make your way along the trail, you’ll come across the remnants of the New Haven to Northampton Canal, which gave the trail its name. From here, you can continue your ride south on the Farmington Canal Heritage Trail, or head north to the Westfield town line, where the trail connects to the Columbia Greenway Rail Trail.

Columbia Greenway Rail Trail

The Columbia Greenway Rail Trail is a popular destination for hikers, bikers, and nature enthusiasts. Located in the Massachusetts border communities of Westfield and Southwick, the trail runs for about 8.5 miles from Westfield to the Connecticut state line.

The final section of the trail, which will terminate in downtown Westfield, is expected to be completed soon.

The paved path of the Columbia Greenway Rail Trail winds through wooded areas and beside rivers and lakes.

It offers stunning views of the natural beauty of the region, as well as a glimpse into its rich history. The trail follows the path of the early transportation corridor that once carried goods from Long Island Sound to Northampton.

In the early 1800s, the Farmington Canal and the Hampshire and Hampden Canal were built to transport goods on canal boats pulled by horses.

When the canal enterprise proved to be too costly, the Northampton and New Haven Railroad took over and completed the construction of a railroad by 1855. This helped industries and agriculture thrive in the area.

At the height of its popularity, the Conamond Ponds saw massive ice-cutting operations, with up to 90 rail cars full of ice blocks shipped out each day during peak summer season.

However, by the 1970s, other modes of transportation had become more viable, and the railroad line was abandoned.

The Columbia Greenway Rail Trail marks the next chapter in the history of this linear path, providing a scenic and peaceful trail for outdoor enthusiasts to enjoy.

Along the trail, visitors can see remnants of the region’s past, such as tobacco fields and drying barns. Growing tobacco leaves for cigars has long been an important part of agriculture in Western Massachusetts.

The trail also takes its name from the Columbia bicycle industry, which was once a major contributor to the local economy. The Columbia bikes were the original high-wheeler bicycles, and the trail pays homage to this historical industry.

Where to Stay to Enjoy the Best Bike Trails in Western Massachusetts

The best places to stay to enjoy the bike trails in Western Massachusetts include The Hotel Northampton, the Sugar Maple Trailside Inn, and the Topia Inn.

These accommodations are all located near popular bike trails and offer convenient access to the area’s best biking routes.

The Hotel Northampton is located in the heart of Northampton, while the Sugar Maple Trailside Inn is located directly on the Norwottuck bike trail in Florence.

The Topia Inn is the only B&B on the Ashuwillticook Rail Trail and offers eco-friendly accommodations and bikes for rent.

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