We invite you to visit Franklin County and take in the stunning fall foliage here. Our rural hills and valleys are mired in red maples, golden oaks and autumn’s changing scenery. Grab your cameras, bikes and canoes and come visit our classic New England landscape. Here are nine locations from which you can enjoy some of autumn’s best views. Or if you’d rather, just stay in the car and take an old fashioned foliage ride on the state’s oldest scenic roadway, the Mohawk Trail.
Mount Sugarloaf Reservation
Drive past the carefully restored Colonial houses on “The Street” in Old Deerfield and head up Summit Road to Mount Sugarloaf, the highest peak in Deerfield. The summit offers iconic 360-degree views of the surrounding hilltowns and the Connecticut River Valley. You may park free at the base of the mountain, at 300 Sugarloaf St. in South Deerfield and hike up (there are several trails for varying abilities); or drive up Summit Road and pay for parking, through mid-October. The reservation is open daily from 9 a.m. to sunset. It’s wheelchair-accessible, with a picnic pavilion and hiking trails. (413-665-2928). Drink the view when you’re done at Berkshire Brewing Company with craft beverages using local ingredients from surrounding farms. Pick up some world class Yankee Candles from their flagship store on your way out of town.
Covering 39 miles, and 181 miles of shoreline, the Quabbin provides drinking water for Boston and offers scenic views and roughly 20 miles of walking trails, for viewing wildlife. It's also a great fishing spot! The Quabbin Visitor Center, which houses restrooms and info, is not open because of COVID-19 so plan accordingly. Brochures, interactive maps, parking info and other info can be found here or call (413-323-7221)
Mass Audubon’s High Ledges Wildlife Sanctuary located in Shelburne Falls offers sweeping vistas of the Deerfield River Valley and the more distant Mount Greylock. In spring, the High Ledges is know for its native orchid species. But in autumn, it’s the panorama of mountains and the river valley that draws in visitors. The 792-acre property has five miles of trails. To enjoy this special place, drive up Patten Road, past Davenport’s Restaurant and hike to the spectacular views. (978-464-2712)
For many people, the annual Ashfield Fall Festival on Columbus Day weekend is an ideal excuse for a drive into the country. While the festival has been canceled this year, the trip leading to the Town Common on Route 116, is worth the ride with its resplendence in red and orange maples. Just a few miles down Rt. 116, off Williamsburg Road, is Chapel Falls. Chapel Brook is a tributary of the South River, and the area features a waterfall and scenic trails. (Ashfieldfallfestival.org) (Chapel Brook Reservation – ). Come back next year for Double Edge Theatre’s Summer Spectacles which take place on a 100 acre farm in Ashfield.
Canalside Rail Trail and Barton Cove
Turners Falls Bikeway follows the Connecticut River and the canal that recalls this old mill town’s colorful industrial past while offering vibrant foliage and views of the surrounding landscape. The Great Falls Discovery Center based at 2 Avenue A, is a good starting point for self-guided walking and biking tours that bring you past the village’s old paper mills, the dam, the power canal, and the Connecticut River. A walkway under the Gill Montague Bridge leads to Unity Park on the Connecticut River bank for an expanse of water and foliage views, complete with picnic tables and grills. (greatfallsdiscoverycenter.org). Stop at The Rendezvous or Upper Bend Café for a bite to eat or do a little shopping at LOOT
Bring your kayak, canoe or motor boat to the other side of the river in Gill, where there is a public boat ramp that brings you on to Barton Cove, a large cove at the upper bend of the river. See the foliage while paddling across ancient plunge pools, watching soaring bald eagles and taking in this scenic expanse of water.
Montague Book Mill
Besides “Books You Don’t Need in a Place You Can’t Find,” this 1834 former grist mill at 440 Greenfield Road is situated along a waterfall in scenic Montague Center, not far from the Canalside Rail Trail. Outdoor dining is offered with great views of the Sawmill River, and roughly 30,000 used books to peruse. Be sure to visit Sawmill River Arts in the Book Mill complex. With exceptional fine art and handmade goods, in price ranges that appeal to gift givers and art collectors alike, it may also be the friendliest gallery you ever visit! This watercolor of the mill was painted by Sharon Loehr-Lapan, a Sawmill River Arts artist.
CharlemontSee autumn from the treetops. Zoar Outdoor and the Berkshire East Mountain Resort both offer zipline canopy tours within view of the Deerfield River and nearby mountains. Both businesses also have mountain biking trails on their grounds. They also offer white water rafting through October if you're interested in an equally exhilirating foliage viewing. Also in Charlemont, Crabapple Whitewater is offering white water rating until October 11th.
Turn onto Peckville Road from Route 2, and you’ll see why this orchard is named “Apex.” The farmstore has a spacious deck and offers a sweeping three-state view, featuring Massachusetts, Vermont and New Hampshire. Apex Orchards has been producing produce fruit since 1828 and allows you to pick your own apples and pumpkins. The store features local produce and food products, The store is open through October for pick-your-own apples and pumpkins. It also carries other local produce and food products, and is open August through April. Sweeten the experience with a sip of nectar at West County Cider across the street. Find more orchards with outstanding views, here.
Poet Seat Tower
Enjoy a long western vista from the beautiful 1912 sandstone structure Poet’s Seat Tower, so named for the area’s attraction to poets such as Frederick Goddard Tuckerman long before the tower was built. Reach Greenfield's topmost point by hiking or by walking up a paved road then climbing winding staircases in this peaceful spot conveniently located to downtown. From Main Street, turn left onto High Street and turn right at Maple Street. At the end, bear right to the top of the hill. There is a parking area on the left and you can walk up to the Tower. Afterwards, get a burrito at Mesa Verde or some great pub food at at Main Street Bar and Grille , Thai Blue Ginger or Hope and Olive or any number of area restaurants and pick up something unique at Plum Boutique. Maybe even stay for a show at Hawks & Reed