Scenic Day Trip #9 - Mohawk Trail Pioneer Valley
This tour at the eastern part of the Mohawk Trail begins in Greenfield. Watch an early sunrise from the Poet's Seat Tower by driving east on Main Street to High Street, then follow the signs to the Tower. Return to Main Street, Route 2A, go west and turn left on Route 5 which takes you through the meadowlands of the Deerfield and Connecticut Rivers, site of the Deerfield Massacre in 1704. Visit Historic Deerfield, a museum village complex of 13 historic houses devoted to the study of the history of Deerfield, the culture of the Connecticut River Valley, and the arts in early American life. There are guided tours of the historic houses and the 300 year-old village street (admission fee for museum houses). Stop at Memorial Hall Museum on Routes 5 and 10 where memorabilia of the 1600's to 1800's from both settlers and Native Americans is exhibited. Follow Route 5 to South Deerfield, turn left on Route 116 and follow the signs for Mt. Sugarloaf State Reservation. The observation tower gives an excellent view of the Connecticut River Valley. Return to Route 116, go east to Route 47 to Route 63, north to the Fish Hatchery and Salmon Ladder near Montague.
Continue north to Northfield Mountain Recreation and Environmental Center. Enjoy a 1 ½ hour interpretive riverboat cruise on the Connecticut River or hike along the 25 mile trail system, tour the mountaintop resevoir and the underground power station. Picnic areas are available at the Center, along the river across from the Visitors Center, and at the Unity Park near Turners Falls Dam and seasonal fish ladder. Return on Route 63 to Route 2, the Mohawk Trail, make a right turn going west. Stop at scenic French King Bridge, which is 750 feet long, 140 feet above the waters of the Connecticut River. There is an excellent view of the King Phillip's Rock, allegedly the site of the first planting of the French flag on American soil. Continue west on Route 2 to Turners Falls, home of the Shea Theater, a restored vaudeville theater offering music and theater events year-round. From the bridge enjoy a view of the falls and the fish as they make their upstream journey (visible only in April, May and early June). Continue west on Route 2, turn south on Route 2A on French King Highway where the road will take you into Greenfield, back to the starting point. Commemorative plaques of historic events are located all along this tour. Parks and lake are identified for rest or recreational use.
Editor's Note: For more information on this and eight other day trips, pick up a copy of "Touring the Berkshires and the Mohawk Trail," available at the Berkshires Visitors Bureau, Berkshire Common, Plaza Level, Pittsfield, (413) 443-9186. Or write to The Mohawk Trail Association, P.O. Box 2031, Charlemont, MA 01339 or call (413) 664-6256.