New England Tri-State Cycling

Rowe, Rowe, Rowe Your Bike
Distance : 21.19 miles.
Time : 3 1/2 hours.
Elevation Gain : 2000 feet.
Difficulty : Moderate.
Bicycle : Road.
Best Time of the Year : This ride parallels the Deerfield River along some sections used for whitewater rafting, canoeing, and kayaking. So there are two theories about when to do this ride. Do it on a weekend when water is released so the whitewater action can be seen. Or do it when little water is being released to avoid the automobile traffic created by the whitewater enthusiasts. The choice is yours. To find out when water is being released, call Zoar Outdoor, a commercial whitewater rafter, at 800-532-7483.
Directions to the Start : From Greenfield, Massachusetts, take Route 2, the old Mohawk Trail, 19 miles west to the Shunpike rest area, just before the road to Monroe Bridge and Rowe. This rest area is called Shunpike because in the late 18th century, frugal people forded the Deerfield River at a somewhat shallow spot here, rather than pay a toll to cross the Towpath Bridge. This method of crossing the Deerfield ended in 1810 when the toll for using the bridge was discontinued.

Route Description

In northwest Massachusetts.

From the rest area, you head west on Route 2 and almost immediately, at mile 0.20, turn right onto the road signed MONROE BRIDGE and ROWE. Soon you meet a steep climb, but the road levels off at mile 0.30, descends, and then begins a more gradual climb. At 1.42 miles you parallel the railroad tracks, and then at 2.52 miles go left underneath the railroad bridge and descend.

You pass the Zoar Picnic Grounds and then at 3.51 miles, after 15 minutes and 180 feet of climbing, you arrive at a spot that overlooks some rapids on the Deerfield River. This is an excellent place to watch the canoes, kayaks, and rafts challenge some serious whitewater.

At 4.32 miles there is a steep climb and then at 4.60 miles, having climbed 350 feet, you experience a wonderful view of the valley ahead of you. Then you ride a welcome level stretch right next to the river bank and pass a Christmas-tree farm on the left. Climb again and at 7.09 miles, after and hour and 500 feet of climbing, you cross some railroad tracks. Just to the left is the eastern portal of the five-mile-long Hoosac Tunnel. As it was blasted through these mountains, the 25 year project cost the lives of nearly 200 men. But when it opened in 1877, it linked eastern Massachusetts with Albany, New York, the Great Lakes, and the west.

After 8.75 miles and 860 feet of gain, you pass the first dam. At 9.78 miles you reach an 1130-foot summit and at 10.25 miles, turn to the right into the Bear Swamp Visitor's Center. Open from 9 A.M. to 5 P.M., it has not only a panoramic view of the Deerfield River valley, but also audio-visual displays and exhibits of local artifacts. At 10.42 miles you veer right and at 11.24 miles pass the Dunbar Brook Picnic area, a busy spot during the annual whitewater races. You leave the town of Florida and enter the Town of Monroe Bridge. At 11.43 miles the surface turns to dirt and at 11.82 miles it becomes unevenly paved.

At 12.53 miles, you arrive at the town of Monroe Bridge. Just before the Post Office, at the YANKEE ATOMIC VISITOR CENTER sign, turn right. A short way down this hill is the Depot Restaurant, but its status may be affected by the decommissioning of Yankee Atomic.

At the bottom of the hill, turn left and cross the bridge over the Deerfield River. This spot also has a dam and is a popular put-in spot for whitewater enthusiasts. Follow this road and at the main entrance to Yankee Atomic, by the Yankee Atomic Visitor Center, a white Colonial house, turn to the right and begin a steep climb. This is a challenging hill until at 14.23 miles, after a gain of 1840 feet, you reach the summit.

At the T at 14.80 miles, turn right onto Hazelton Road. Now, to make up for that steep climb, you're in for a fast descent. The road is good, but at 16.30 miles you may be surprised by a sharp curve. At 16.64 miles you veer to the right and at 18.65 miles, at a junction with a huge tree, you turn left back to Route 2.

Back on Route 2, you turn left and at 21.19 miles, after climbing 2000 feet in 3 1/2 hours, you're back at the Shunpike rest area.

View: Trail Map

Published: 29 Apr 2002 | Last Updated: 15 Sep 2010
Details mentioned in this article were accurate at the time of publication


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