June 9, 2011

Berkshire Cycling: Great Barrington - Sheffield Loop 2

18 miles   Paved Roads
Towns: Great Barrington, Egremont, Sheffield
Parking: Great Barrington

Pond usually covered with geese
Another nice after-work ride for me, not too long and generally flat. When I ride near home after work it is always hilly … not always what I want to see after a long day and commute. So I often ride here, then drive home. This ride goes west from Great Barrington to the pretty, very traditional white-building, town of South Egremont, then south past the Appalachian Trail before turning back west in Sheffield.

View of hills to east
One of these days I’ll ride to the top of Mount Washington, past Bash-Bish falls, but my defeat on Washington Mountain Road chastened me enough to wait another few weeks before trying  this south county hill. 

Sheep farm
The two Washingtons are confusing, even to area residents.  One is a hilltown, simply named Washington, with “Washington Mountain Road” leading to it from the northwest. It is large in area, small in population, with most of its landmass  unpopulated in October Mountain State Forest. The other town is Mount Washington, located on the Connecticut/New York border, featuring (surprise) Mount Washington.  Even the Commonwealth can get confused: once about fifteen years ago the state deposited monies due to Mount Washington into the bank account of Washington. Both are small towns, and no one realized the error for months. 

On today’s ride I pass the Appalachian Trail Conservancy’s Kellogg Center, located on Rt. 41. This mid-18th century farmhouse was a gift to the Trail Conservancy, is the regional office for Massachusetts and Connecticut, and offers workshops and retreats for staff and hikers. 

Continuing south, on the other side of the road the herd of sheep reminded me of my trip to the Languedoc in southern France. Though the Cévennes are much more rugged, and high, than the Berkshires, some people say that they aren't really mountains, just as I say the Berkshires are hills. The Cévennes are sheep country and provide milk for Roquefort cheese. There is a growing cheese industry here, but I haven’t learned of any local sheep-milk cheese.

The ride across Berkshire School Road is fast and flat, followed by a short stint on Rt. 7, a jog over to Boardman and the ride back to central Great Barrington.

Roads: From Great Barrington travel west on Rt. 23 to South Egremont, turn south on Rt. 41, then left onto Berkshire School Road. Follow it back to Rt. 7, turn north and follow Rt. 7 for a short distance to Maple Street. Right on Maple then left on Boardman. Left when Boardman ends onto Brookview which takes you quickly back to 7. North to Great Barrington center.

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