Mount Greylock and The Mohawk Trail
Written by Kim Knox Beckius
With each cold autumn night, foliage colors come alive across Massachusetts’ diverse terrain. From the mountains of the Berkshires to the tip of Cape Cod and even on the islands of Nantucket and Martha’s Vineyard, fall colors intensify with each passing day beginning in late September. How long the show will last is anyone’s guess. In the higher altitudes and in the northern part of Massachusetts, peak color often coincides with Columbus Day weekend. In coastal areas and in downtown Boston, hints of color can linger well into November.
Even as leaves swirl to the ground, Massachusetts is a place where every scenic drive and every fall hike seems to lead deep into a story of America’s past. Seek out these ultimate places to view colorful leaves, and you’ll also sense the spirit of those who have cherished and protected these landscapes for centuries.
One of the best and easiest summit drives in New England awaits in the Berkshires. Massachusetts’ highest peak was already the stuff of legends before J.K. Rowling noted that Mount Greylock is home to North America’s school of wizardry. It is said that Herman Melville looked out at the mountain’s hulking shape from his study at Arrowhead and saw the great white whale he gave eternal life in “Moby Dick.” The true magic here is the dusting of fall color that Mother Nature sprinkles on the 12,500 acres of dense forest you will see when you climb the 92-foot Veterans War Memorial Tower on the mountaintop. Make reservations in advance to enjoy dinner with a view of the fall colors from Bascom Lodge, the magnificent stone summit house built here in the 1930s by the Civilian Conservation Corps.
The Mohawk Trail
It’s better to be a passenger than the driver along Massachusetts Route 2, aka the Mohawk Trail, in the rugged northern Berkshires. Your car windows will frame breathtaking views of autumnal hues emerging on treed hillsides and in the sweeping valleys below, but if you’re behind the wheel, you’ll want to focus on the twists in the road, especially the famous hairpin turn. Officially named a scenic tourist route in 1914 by the Massachusetts legislature, New England’s oldest scenic drive actually traces a path first blazed by this region’s Native American warriors and traders. In the 33 miles between Williamstown and Shelburne Falls, the most scenic stretch of Route 2, there are plenty of attractions worth visiting: art museums, natural wonders, restaurants with views. The one must is the Bridge of Flowers in Shelburne Falls, which blooms in harmony with its autumn surroundings.