August 30, 2011

Berkshire Cycling: Washington - Worthington Loop

40 miles     Paved roads, with an optional short dirt section
Parking: Rt. 8, town park, Washington     
Towns: Washington, Hinsdale, Peru, Worthington, Chester, Becket

Ashmere Lake
Here is a favorite route. It is a fun circuit loop that could be started anywhere, offering some good, long-ish hills and (mostly) quiet rural roads.

I began on Route 8, with light Saturday morning traffic, then turned east at the light of Rt. 143 in Hinsdale. The route passes Ashmere Lake, part of which is a state park and all of which is a popular summer playground for local residents. The road climbs steadily, but not steeply, up to Peru, which is named after the country, presumably for the altitude. No nonsense in their founder's minds, no naming their town after bucolic English homelands.

Continuing east on Rt. 143, the road descends a nice, fast-enough, curving downhill and reaches Worthington. I turned south on River Road, where this house on the corner supports the bike on the corner. It has been there a long time apparently quite comfortably.

This is a beautiful ride, worth driving a car to get to if you don't live on the route. It follows a branch of the Westfield River downstream to Chester. Not too many years ago I spotted a full grown, absolutely gorgeous bald eagle here.  I'm told that they live along the river, though I don't see them often and it is always exciting. There are frequent points where a cyclist can accesss the river, and lots of rocks to sit on and enjoy lunch. But bring your lunch or snacks, or else stop in Hinsdale to pick something up. There aren't other shops along the way.

Continue to follow River Road all the way back uphill, and it is an uphill, steeper than Rt. 143, until reaching  Bromley Road, where you turn right and continue the climb until it deadends at Skyline Trail, across from an old, uninhabited, but potentially lovely, house.

Turn right at that intersection and follow the road either all the way back to Route 8 in Hinsdale, south of the intersection with 143.

Roads: From Rt. 8 in Washington, north to Rt. 143 east in Hinsdale. South onto River Road, then right onto Bromley and right onto Skyline Trail. After that to stay paved, continue to Rt. 8 in Hinsdale where you turn left to return to your car. To see a cue sheet, climbing detail and map, click here for the route on Map My Ride.


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