Berkshire Bike Path Council
The Ashuwillticook Rail Trail is a multiuse trail running north - south in Berkshire County. The Trail parallels Rte 8 with the southern end beginning in the town of Lanesborough near the Berkshire Mall. The Trail is 11 miles long with the northern terminus in the town of Adams at the Visitor Center. Running along side of Cheshire Lake and the head waters of the Hoosic River the Rail Trail provides excellent views. The Trail is maintained by the Massachusetts Department of Conservation and Recreation (DCR).
From a 19th century freight yard to the site of an 18th century soldier fort, the Ashuwillticook River Trail wends its' way through the back woods history and natural beauty of five Berkshire County communities. Built during the industrial boom of the 1800's, the railway proved to be a vital commercial link from the Atlantic Seaboard to communities which would have otherwise been isolated in the Berkshire Hills. Some eleven miles of abandoned Boston & Maine railways trace roughly the same travel route Native Americans and later early settlers use centuries ago.
Why the Trail?
Abandoned railway corridors across the country are making excellent recreational rails for walkers, hikers, bikers and skiers. Twentieth century economics have forced changes in transportation modes, and Rails-to-Trails works to preserve these abandoned right-of-ways for future transportation uses and convert them into trails for public use. Conversion of the Boston and Maine railway between North Adams and Pittsfield is a superb, low-impact way to reconnect residents and visitors to local history and the natural environment. It provides a forum for families and exercise enthusiasts, as well as a safe and friendly re-use for land.
The modern spelling more or less corrupted from the Native American language, scholars say "Ashuwillticook" (pronounced Ash-oo-WILL-ti-cook) has a very descriptive, albeit very fitting, meaning. Literally, Ashuwillticook means "at the in-between pleasant river" or in common tongue: "the pleasant river in between the hills." No longer referred to using its original name, the Ashuwillticook River is now know as the South Branch of the Hoosic River.
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