The Mohawk Trail
Like many roads in New England, the trail got its start as a migratory game path originating somewhere west of the Taconic Mountains (in what's now New York state), and it wound eastward through, what would eventually become, Massachusetts. Native Americans --primarily the Mohawks in the west and the Pocumtucks in the Connecticut River Valley to the east-- used the trail in their migrations, and they had long-established treaties regarding hunting and fishing rights along its length. Upon the settlement of the English in the Pocumtuck territory, and the Dutch, who were making inroads into Mohawk lands in the lower Hudson River Valley, political unrest began to develop amongst the two tribes. The Europeans initially hoped that political unrest between the tribes would further their own ends, and they began to manipulate one tribe against the other. Although the Europeans later attempted to arrange a peace conference to settle the differences of the two tribes, eventually a full-scale war broke out, with the Mohawks ultimately gaining the upper hand. Since no one ever names anything after the losers, the path eventually became known as the "Mohawk Trail."
With the end of the Indian Wars and the beginning of the American Revolution, the old trail was gradually rerouted and widened to accommodate wagon traffic between the city of Boston and the interior towns, particularly North Adams.
By the early part of the 20th century people began to appreciate just how beautiful the region encompassing the trail was, so in October of 1914 the Massachusetts State Legislature declared the Mohawk Trail a scenic tourist route. It was during this time that the mountainous, winding stretch of road --especially the section named The Mohawk Trail Scenic Byway-- really began to explode with popularity. Previously, the fastest route from North Adams to Boston was by rail via the 4.5 mile Hoosac Tunnel, which traveled through the Hoosac Mountain --one of the largest mountains that the Mohawk Trail climbs and winds over. But as cars were becoming more affordable in 1914, the thrill and challenge of driving over the Hoosac Mountain, instead of through it, began to draw families from everywhere in the Northeast. Stretching from the 1920's through the 1950's, the road became a travel destination in itself and small shops, campgrounds, and trading posts began to pop up. Today, the excitement and fascination with this stretch of road seems to be surging like never before, and it has drawn enough attention as a vacation spot that the towns and surrounding areas are now referred to as The Mohawk Trail Region. The trail has been recognized by The National Geographic Traveler and The American Automobile Association as being one of the top scenic routes in the United States.
Whether you are someone who lives close by and is looking for a slow relaxing ride by the scenery, or you are looking to spend days exploring the side roads, stopping in different villages and towns, hiking its open public lands, visiting the campgrounds, and exploring some of the numerous other sites and attractions, you should definitely consider experiencing the Mohawk Trail.
If you plan on venturing out on the Mohawk Trail on a motorcycle, keep in mind that helmet laws vary from state to state. Depending on where you are traveling from, there may be no helmet law in your state. Even if you usually don't wear a helmet, it is a good idea to bring one with you and check with the state laws when crossing borders. If you intend on bringing a passenger along with you, your passenger must be wearing a helmet at all times. Only motorcyclists who have held their license for over 1 year may have a passenger on the back of their bike in the state of Massachusetts.
Western route to the middle of The Mohawk Trail
Western route to the western section of The Mohawk Trail
Northern route to the eastern section of The Mohawk Trail
From New York Metro Area:
To the western section of The Mohawk Trail
To the middle of The Mohawk Trail
Northwestern scenic route to the western section of The Mohawk Trail
Scenic driving tours