Massachusetts

The Mohawk Trail | The Ultimate Massachusetts Scenic Drive

New England’s first official “scenic tourist route,” the historic Mohawk Trail in Massachusetts, offers 60 miles of roadside fun.

By Katherine Keenan

Oct 18 2021

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Following along the scenic Mohawk Trail in Massachusetts.

Photo Credit : Katherine Keenan
As far as New England scenic drives go, the Mohawk Trail has it all. With over 60 miles of scenery, small town stops, and roadside attractions, it’s no wonder that tourists have flocked to this western Massachusetts route for over a century. It’s also steeped in history: for many more centuries before it was formally dubbed “The Mohawk Trail,” Native American tribes used the path as a trade route. But since its formal debut on October 22, 1914, as New England’s first official “scenic tourist route,” many of the towns along this winding road have blossomed into bustling hubs of art and culture. As a result, unlike other scenic New England drives like New Hampshire’s Kancamagus Highway and Acadia National Park’s Park Loop Road, the Mohawk Trail offers numerous cultural attractions, shops, and lodging opportunities along the way. Now, nearby towns such as Williamstown, North Adams, and Shelburne Falls provide visitors with ample opportunity to linger and explore. Ready to learn what it’s like to drive The Mohawk Trail? Read on!
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Looking west along the Mohawk Trail as it climbs into the rolling Berkshire Hills between Shelburne and Charlemont, Massachusetts.
Photo Credit : Carl Tremblay

The Mohawk Trail | The Ultimate Massachusetts Scenic Drive

There are few roads in New England which attract visitors simply by being roads. Not only is this true for the Mohawk Trail now, but it has been true for many, many years. What now makes up one portion of Massachusetts’ Route 2 marks what originally served as a Native American trade path, and reminders of the trail’s long history can still be seen at many points along the way. When the automobile was invented, work began to transform the route into a gravel, single-lane road. After the official fanfare was over and tourists began to consistently drive the road, establishments began to pop up alongside. The route now winds through and past numerous Massachusetts towns and communities, a map of which can be seen below. That said, despite the many modern day conveniences which dot the roadsides, The Mohawk Trail retains much of its historic and rural charm. As Yankee editor Ian Aldrich wrote in the 2014 feature on the trail (which also featured the first aerial image, above, and the map, below), “There’s a restless quality to the road—it has no single identity. You’re on a mountain. You’re beside a river. You’re in a small town. You’re passing through farmland. You can buzz along at 50 mph, or just let yourself get lost, meandering off on some inviting side road.”
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Guide to the Scenic Mohawk Trail.
Photo Credit : Ian Phillips
The trail is also a medley of many of the region’s finest assets. Foodies will appreciate the trail’s many dining options, those in search of a beverage might enjoy visiting one the many breweries or cideries along the way, and coffee fiends will enjoy the many roadside coffee shops. Those in search of some fresh air will appreciate all of the trail’s natural beauty, since part of the trail runs alongside the Deerfield River and in the distance the Berkshire mountains can be spotted from many points along the way. The highest point of the route, Whitcomb Summit, overlooks surrounding towns and mountains and — like many points on the Mohawk Trail — is truly a photographer’s dream. Take a journey down the Mohawk Trail and get the intel on some of our favorite roadside stops through the photos below, and learn more about the history of the Mohawk Trail by reading our 2014 feature celebrating the trail’s 100th anniversary.

The Mohawk Trail | Photos

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One of the first stops on the easternmost end of The Mohawk Trail is the French King Bridge, constructed in 1931 to replace a particularly treacherous portion of the original road. Pictured: the view from the middle of the bridge, which offers a pedestrian sidewalk for those unafraid of heights.
Photo Credit : Katherine Keenan
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The town of Greenfield, Massachusetts, is home to a number of wonderful dining establishments, coffee shops, and bakeries, making it the perfect place to fuel up before hitting the most scenic portions of the trail.
Photo Credit : Katherine Keenan
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The view from Poet’s Seat Tower, which sits at the top of Rocky Mountain and overlooks Greenfield, Massachusetts. Not in the mood for a hike? No problem! You can drive right up to the tower!
Photo Credit : Katherine Keenan
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Hager’s Farm Market sits just beyond the town of Greenfield and offers a colorful assortment of fresh, local produce and goods.
Photo Credit : Katherine Keenan
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Autumn mums and an assortment of pumpkins sitting outside Hager’s Farm Market in Shelburne Falls, Massachusetts.
Photo Credit : Katherine Keenan
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Just across from Hager’s Farm Market sits Shelburne Falls Coffee Roasters, one of our picks for the Best Iced Coffee in New England. My personal favorite, the “Toasted Coconut Cream” iced coffee, never disappoints.
Photo Credit : Katherine Keenan
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Some early tidbits of fall color spotted behind Shelburne Falls Coffee Roasters.
Photo Credit : Katherine Keenan
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Continuing to mosey along the Mohawk Trail will lead you past numerous beautiful farmlands.
Photo Credit : Katherine Keenan
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A mural depicting the town of Shelburne Falls, Massachusetts, the next stop on the Mohawk Trail and home to the beautiful Bridge of Flowers.
Photo Credit : Katherine Keenan
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Downtown Shelburne Falls is packed full with historic New England charm, like this old-school pharmacy building.
Photo Credit : Katherine Keenan
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Directly across the river from Shelburne Falls sits beautiful Buckland, Massachusetts.
Photo Credit : Katherine Keenan
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Connecting the two towns of Shelburne Falls and Buckland, Massachusetts, is The Bridge of Flowers, a dreamlike, flower-adorned footbridge.
Photo Credit : Katherine Keenan
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Flowers of all shapes, sizes, and colors emerge from both sides of the bridge’s walkway.
Photo Credit : Katherine Keenan
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Although it may be the flowers which attract most visitors to the Bridge of Flowers, the view from the bridge certainly isn’t bad, either!
Photo Credit : Katherine Keenan
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If you’re ready for a snack after wandering across The Bridge of Flowers, swing by McCusker’s Market in Buckland, home to the Franklin Community Co-Op, natural food store, and deli.
Photo Credit : Katherine Keenan
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Continuing to mosey along the Mohawk Trail will lead you past numerous beautiful farmlands.
Photo Credit : Katherine Keenan
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On the other side of the road, the Deerfield River meanders along, often visible in the distance.
Photo Credit : Katherine Keenan
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Although it was still well before peak foliage colors hit western Massachusetts when I drove the Mohawk Trail, there were certainly sure signs of fall!
Photo Credit : Katherine Keenan
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Charming old buildings dotted the sides of the road during this middle portion of the drive, including “The Little Red School,” a historic schoolhouse which sits in a field on the way toward Charlemont, Massachusetts.
Photo Credit : Katherine Keenan
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On the way into Charlemont you’ll also pass Hicks Family Farm, home to a five acre corn maze and mini golf course.
Photo Credit : Katherine Keenan
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The newly remodeled Wells Provisions in the town center of Charlemont, Massachusetts, offers typical market fare in addition to breakfast, lunch, and ice cream.
Photo Credit : Katherine Keenan
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The next portion of the drive is largely made up of winding, hilly roads through thick forest. Make sure to keep an eye out for wildlife!
Photo Credit : Katherine Keenan
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After miles of driving uphill, the Mohawk Trail reaches its highest elevation at Whitcomb Summit, fondly dubbed “America’s Switzerland.”
Photo Credit : Katherine Keenan
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Coffee with a view! This hot cup of joe was handmade with care using a pour-over cone and No. Six Depot beans at Wigwam Western Summit in North Adams, Massachusetts, located at the highest point on the Mohawk Trail (and one of our picks for Best 5 Places in New England for Coffee with a View!).
Photo Credit : Katherine Keenan
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The next stop on the Mohawk Trail is North Adams, the smallest city in Massachusetts and home to the historic Mohawk theater.
Photo Credit : Katherine Keenan
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MASS MoCA, one of the largest contemporary art centers in the country, anchors North Adams, Massachusetts, firmly within the New England art scene. The museum makes for a great pit stop, or can be easily turned into a full day’s adventure!
Photo Credit : Katherine Keenan
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The Clark Art Institute in Williamstown, Massachusetts, a beautiful art museum, research institute, and the final stop along our journey. The property also has lovely walking trails which make for a great sunset stroll!
Photo Credit : Katherine Keenan
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Williamstown’s bustling downtown area is lined with quaint shops and eateries, frequented by local Williams College students and tourists alike. On Saturday, a downtown parking lot transforms into a lively farmer’s market (pictured).
Photo Credit : Katherine Keenan
And that concludes our drive! Have you ever driven the Mohawk Trail? Let us know in the comments below!

SEE MORE:

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Massachusetts Fall Foliage Guide

Prettiest Fall Foliage Villages in Massachusetts