Spend any time in Western Massachusetts, and you’ll learn that it’s quite different from the hustle and bustle of its capital city, Boston.
Here, you’ll find a much more laid back and bucolic setting. Rolling hills and parts of the Appalachian Trail wind its way through wide swaths of farmland.
Sounds beautiful, doesn’t it?
Well, thankfully you can experience this first hand on the Mohawk Trail.
In this post, we’ll share a little bit about the history of the trail and why it’s a must-see route you need to explore.
Mohawk Trail Massachusetts History
The Mohawk Trail as we know it today was first opened in 1914. However, Native American and local Indigenous tribes had been traveling it as far back as approximately 10,000 years ago.
This trail was a common footpath used by the tribes to reach trading and hunting grounds, as well as other villages in the region.
After the road was built in the early 1900s, it was named as one of the first designated scenic routes in the entire country. In 1973, it was added to the National Register of Historic Places.
Sightseeing Along the Way
The Mohawk Trail is 69 miles long. It runs westward along Routes 2 and 2A from Orange, Massachusetts to Williamstown, on the Western border with New York State.
This is the perfect trip for meandering. Hop in your car and spend an entire day, or more, along the route. You can pull off to check out everything from cool boutique shops to spend a few hours white water rafting.
If the length of the route isn’t very long, there is plenty to see and do along the way. Some popular stops include some of the historic villages and small towns along the way. The Orange Center Historic District and the Turners Falls Historic District are both popular with visitors and locals.
Here are some of our favorites.
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This part of Western Massachusetts provides some of the most beautiful sites in New England, so you don’t want to miss them.
At the start of the Mohawk Trail, you aren’t far from the Connecticut River. In the summer, the river is a popular spot for white water rafting, with several outfits offering half-day trips down the river.
For hiking, both the Mohawk Trail State Forest and the Natural Bridge State Park are popular options. The state forest is home to old-growth trees and natural gorges, while the state park is a geologic wonder with the only natural marble bridge and waterfall in America.
Take in Some Art
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MASS MoCA … a must visit for contemporary art lovers. Be sure to order tickets for James Turrell light exhibits (no photos at request of artist) plus Annie Lennox, Sol LeWitt, Anselm Kiefer and MORE!!! . . #massmoca #annielennox #annielennoxart #sollewittmassmoca #sollewitt #anselmkiefer
This part of Western Massachusetts used to be dominated by old mill towns. But as many of those factories closed, they were replaced by artists and art museums.
Visit the Massachusetts Museum of Contemporary Art, the Sterling and Francine Clark Art Institute, or the Williams College Museum of Art to start. Or explore the downtown areas of Shelburne Falls and Williamstown too, both known for their independent art galleries.
If you’re in the area or local to this part of New York or New England, exploring the Mohawk Trail makes for an excellent mini road trip.