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  1. #1
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    First trip to Charlemont

    I made my first trip out to Charlemont a couple weekends ago, and was really impressed with what they've got going on out there.

    First trip to Charlemont-img_2285.jpg
    (Taken on Billy's World)

    The descent off the backside of Berkshire East (Billy's World Trail) has to be one of the longest sustained descents in the Northeast. The climb up the frontside, while relentless, is broken up really well by switchbacks.

    I have yet to check out the stuff on the north side of Route 2, but the stuff around Berkshire East, alone, is worth the trip out from Boston.

    Just make sure you bring your climbing legs.

    Nor'Easter Backcountry: Answering the Riddle at Charlemont Trails (June 2014)

  2. #2
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    Nice writeup. I found your blog through the CTS facebook page. I like the skiing reports, too.

    I went up there about a month ago for the first (and only, so far) time, myself, but did the other side of the river, and didn't make it over to the BEast side. Unfortunately, I rode precisely opposite the direction suggested to you - up King Phillips, No-name, Rice Brook, Red Zone... Still fun, but a rough climb up all those switchbacks. I found that the trail on that side needed some work; in some places it wasn't so much a bench cut as just a ribbon of dirt with the leaves raked off. And hard to follow. I'm sure it will improve with time and traffic, though.

    How do the trails on the Berkshire East side compare to that description? I understand Billy's is the oldest trail in the network - was it reasonably well established?

  3. #3
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    Thanks Dangur. I thought the trails on the Berkshire East side were well-defined. Billy's was fantastic. The closest comparison I can think of is Dead Moose Alley.. or possibly Poundcake at Kingdom-- but less worn. It is not a flow trail- the turns aren't banked enough and the trail isnt smooth enough to really open up your speed- but it does have some flow. I definitely would say it was more "raw" than manicured but that was part of the appeal for me. More signage and updated maps would be the most needed improvements as I see it. The mix of roads, bike trails and ski trails- along with the fact that the map was missing some trails, made a couple of the junctions confusing. That said, I made it to where I wanted to go with a minimum of backtracking and second-guessing.

  4. #4
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    The Stuff on the North Side of rte 2 (Warfield House and Zoar) is just as good, if not better than the B'East side (they have really done a lot of work over the last two years improving these trails)…but you do have to have a good plan of attack:

    1. I like riding the high stuff (above the cow field from Warfield House) in this direction: Game Trail (from Riddell Rd), to Sweet 16 (best trail in the system) back to Riddell Rd,

    2. Climb Riddell rd up to TOP of Red Zone, ride Red Zone top to bottom, then ride Brook Trail back to Picnic table.

    3.Then climb back towards the Warfield House and ride the TV-Tower/ Lost/ Get Smart, etc trails (you can head over to the B'east side from this point easily!)

    4.Then drop down onto the Zoar trails (to the fun stuff at the bottom and back up the Philips Trail).

    The Berkshire Side is also great, and like Noreast says, Billy's World is one of the best long, tech downhills in New England. The New Trails at the top are also excellent, and, personally, I love the hard as hell Hawks Brook Climb to the Top.

    I'm thinking of doing my Father's Day afternoon ride up at the CtS…

    This region is worth the trip…but it is one of the more consistently difficult and aerobically challenging areas in Massachusetts, so keep that in mind.

    You can always make a multi-day trip out of it by throwing in Hawley/ Dubuque or heading on over to the Berkshires/ Pittsfield or down to the DAR (all destination worthy haunts in their own rights).

    This region is teaming with miles and miles of high quality biker built single track…..local knowledge goes a long way out here so post up and seek out guides if possible.

    From Eastern, MA, You could just do a Route 2 Exploratory Trip Hitting Leominster SF, The gay Petersham trails , Wendell SF, Catamount and Eventually CTS (stopping in Greenfield for a Double Ridge Rip and a Pint at the People's Pint)… actually…that all ought to be in a Visit Massachusetts Mountain Biking Guide.

  5. #5
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    Thanks for the local tips, SuperbMan. I'll definitely be back this summer, and I plan on riding everything.

    Regarding that Rte 2 trip: When you say Catamount, do you mean the ski area?...

    I've always thought that an I-91 trip could be similarly awesome - Hitting Earl's & Bachelor St, then CTS, then on up to STAB. Tons of other great places to ride in CT and farther north in VT, too. It could be a complete tour of central New England.

  6. #6
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    Sign me up for the Route 2 and I-91 tours.

  7. #7
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    Quote Originally Posted by Dangur View Post
    Thanks for the local tips, SuperbMan. I'll definitely be back this summer, and I plan on riding everything.

    Regarding that Rte 2 trip: When you say Catamount, do you mean the ski area?...
    Oh no, Catamount State Forest is one of those unknown gems of the region. It lies just north of the big Tee Pee as you enter Charlemont, in the bordering town of Colrain. For years, there was nothing there but Jeep trails, but over the years, gradually, things have progressed and there is now about a dozen miles of hilly, rocky, MTB designed single track, in addition to the miles of legacy Jeep roads. No maps, no real parking areas, no park staff, but superb riding. Check out the Strava Heat-map for a hint at what's there.
    http://facebook.com/CharlemontTrails
    NEMBA Past President...

  8. #8
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    wendell s.f. and charlemont area are among my all time favorite rides, worth the trip down from "green mts", for my friends from the north, think Ascutney, GMT and Perry Hill....
    Brattleboro/Keene NEMBA officer and trail hero!

  9. #9
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    You guys have any recommendations for camping/cheap-stays in the area?

    I'm thinking of hitting Charlemont late this week and staying overnight in the area. I've stayed at Savoy SF before and was wondering if there were other options close by.

  10. #10
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    There are 3 camping options in Charlemont. Country Aire - Campground Reservations On The Mohawk Trail | Country Aire Campground, Mohawk Park Mohawk Trail State Forest, MA - Campground & Camping Details - ReserveAmerica - [MA] and a few sites at Zoar Outdoor Camping and Lodging at Zoar Outdoor - Charlemont, MA - Zoar Outdoor.

    We'll be doing our regular Thursday evening ride this week at 6:00 from Warfield House. Love to have you join.

    Harold
    http://facebook.com/CharlemontTrails
    NEMBA Past President...

  11. #11
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    Harold, thanks for the great info. I should be there for the Thursday night ride. I look forward to meeting you and seeing what else Charlemont has to offer.

  12. #12
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    First trip to Charlemont

    Hi guys. I'm going to charlemont tomorrow the 19th. It'll be my first time there and my first time to some actual mountain trails.
    Where would you recommend a beginner to start. I'm not afraid of rocks and roots or small drops. I just don't know if I'm ready for a two hour climb.
    Thanks for any insight you can offer.


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  13. #13
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    BigFitz,

    I say this as a BIG FAN of the Charlemont Trail System…it's very beginner unfriendly, especially if your main problem is big, challenging climbs. If someone was around to really show you the best routes, you might have a good time, but on your own, you'll find the CtS is a very demanding (but excellent) place to ride. Want a recommendation for somewhere else in the region to ride? Where are you coming from?

  14. #14
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    First trip to Charlemont

    I'm staying in whitingham VT at my hunting camp. Since I'll be so close I figure if it's too rough I can bail.


    History is written by those who have hanged heroes.

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    Ok, well, my recommendation then is to Start from the Warfield House Parking area head over towards druid ridge *throuh the high cow pasture, ride No Name trail, head back up Riddell Rd, ride Game Trail to Sweet 16, out to Riddell rd again, climb all the way up to the top of Red Zone (on Riddell rd), drop down all of Red Zone, then ride the Brook Trail to the Picnic bench, If you still have gas in the tank, Ride the TV Tower (Get Smart, Lost and Found) trails above the Warfield House…and if that isn't enough drop onto the Zoar trails…just remember that it is a long way back up.

    The Berkshire East Trails are also great, but there is no way around the 40 minutes climb to get to the goods (unless you have someone to shuttle you).
    Last edited by SuperbMan; 07-18-2014 at 03:27 PM.

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    First trip to Charlemont

    Thanks a lot Superbman. I'll try that.
    I just wish the lockout was fixed on my pos fork. Hammer on!


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  17. #17
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    First trip to Charlemont

    Superbman, you were absolutely right. I followed your suggestions starting with no name, game trail and sweet sixteen. Then did some outer and middle loop. Then I did sixteen again and was done.
    I was in over my head. Even though I hiked a bit I still had a ton of fun and got one hell of a workout.
    I also couldn't believe I was the only one there Saturday 8-1. Anyway, thanks for the help. Now I have motivation to up my fitness and go back!!!!


    History is written by those who have hanged heroes.

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