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The must-sees on the Mohawk Trail

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The famed byway includes natural wonders, quaint downtowns, and the most famous bridge in Western Mass.

Tony Luong

The Mohawk Trail in Western Massachusetts was New England’s first specifically designated scenic roadway when it opened in 1914.

The approximately 63-mile stretch follows what was once a major Native American trading route between tribes in what is now Eastern Massachusetts and upstate New York.

Here’s what you’ll encounter along this groundbreaking roadway.

Where is it, exactly?

The Mohawk Trail rolls through several municipalities, including Westminster, Orange, Erving, Gill, Greenfield, Shelburn, Buckland, Charlemont, Savoy, Florida, North Adams, and Williamstown. These are small communities—Greenfield is the biggest, with around 17,500 residents—and their downtowns can be worthy stops in their own rights.

What’s worth visiting along the trail?

Plenty. Both privately and publicly run attractions along the way are happy to tie themselves to the trail. Besides, it runs through one of the more scenic slices of Western Mass.

The Susan B. Anthony Birthplace Museum in Adams commemorates the life of the 19th-century abolitionist and suffragist who spent part of her childhood in Western Mass.

There’s also the “village store” of the Yankee Candle Company in South Deerfield, which offers not only said candles for retail but also all sorts of warm-and-fuzzy stuff, including a mock Bavarian village coated year-round with snow and the opportunity to mold your own candle gifts.

The most prominent marker along the trail is the Elk on the Trail Monument off Route 2, just south of Moore’s Road. The Benevolent and Protective Order of Elks dedicated it in 1923 as a memorial to U.S. troops killed in World War I.

Finally, there’s the Bridge of Flowers between Shelburne and Buckland. It originally went up in 1907 and 1908 to move freight via railroad, but the rise of automation rendered it obsolete. Locals stepped in during the late 1920s to turn it into the perennially blossoming bridge it is today.

There’s nature, then?

Yes, lots of nature. That is probably the defining characteristic of the Mohawk Trail. The trail itself is an excellent running vantage for taking in Western Massachusetts’s fall foliage, especially during October and November.

There is also the Mohawk Trail State Forest, a 6,000-acre expanse complete with woodlands, ridges, and gorges—never mind six log cabins and 47 campsites as well as spots for fishing and swimming.

The Mohawk Trail also intersects with perhaps the most famous trail in America, the Appalachian Trail between Georgia and Maine, about halfway between Williamstown and North Adams off Route 2.