Massachusetts actually has several designated scenic byways that are meant to lead travelers through all the most picturesque locations in the state. Criss-crossing most of western Mass., these gorgeous routes are filled with historical sites, beautiful “leaf-peeping” areas, quaint towns and villages, spectacular natural features and some of the freshest air you’ll find anywhere. A drive along just one of these scenic byways will change the way you think of Massachusetts forever.
1. Mount Greylock Scenic Byway (16.3 miles)
This scenic route will take you from Pennsylvania to Maine, without ever stepping wheel or foot off of Massachusetts! You'll drive right past incredible sites like Natural Bridge State Park, Bascom Lodge, the Ashuwillticook Rail Trail and MASS MoCA. This drive is 16.3 miles long, and will take you about 2.5 hours with stops at the at the summit of Mount Greylock and Western Gateway Heritage State Park. If you'd rather admire the beauty from your car, the trip will only take you 35 minutes! The route starts in Adams and extends into Williamstown.
2. Jacob's Ladder Scenic Byway (Route 20, 33 miles)
The Jacob’s Ladder Trail Scenic Byway is a gorgeous rural route that will take you through the best of the Berkshire foothills. You'll pass through quaint small towns, past cliffs that sparkle with clear mountain runoff, and plenty of woodland paths that are perfect for stretching your legs after a while in the car. Check out Lee Center for an eyeful of some really beautiful architecture from the 1800s.
3. Route 116 Scenic Byway
This road with take passengers to the eastern edge of the Mohawk Trail and right through the middle of the Berkshires. It passes through historic Deerfield, a rebuilt 18th-century English settlement that is also a thriving modern town. Other towns along the route include Conway, Savoy, Plainfield, Cheshire and Adams. The byway also access the Ashuwillticook Rail Trail, and will take you past gurgling springs and through sun-dappled forest.
4. Route 112 Scenic Byway (51 miles)
Route 112 winds from north to south, running from the Vermont border to Huntington. There are lots of scenic towns and sites along the way, so this is definitely one byway that lends itself to frequent stops. A great place to start is the town of Colrain, which was settled in 1735 and is something of an arts colony. Along the southern end of the route, the DAR State Forest, C.M. Gardner State Park and Chester-Blandford State Forest are all great options for a big of wilderness exploration.
5. Connecticut River Byway (274)
This route runs parallel to the beautiful Connecticut River. The byway will take you through some of the most fertile agricultural land in New England, with plenty of charming farms and rural communities sprinkled along its course. This road is best experienced in the fall when the trees are ablaze with autumn foliage, but it's a beautiful trip no matter what the season. There are over 1,200 nationally recognized historic sites and buildings along the byway, including Summit House on Mount Holyoke and the Hadley Farm Museum.
6. Mohawk Trail Scenic Byway (65 miles)
This is definitely one of the most scenic routes on this list. With over 100 attractions along its winding course, the Mohawk Trail Byway will take you past sights like Shelburne Falls famous Bridge of Flowers, the striking "Hail to the Sunrise" statue and even crumbling ruins from pre-colonial times.
7. Route 122 Scenic Byway
Passing just to the north of the Quabbin Reservoir, this byway twists along 40 miles of quiet country roads and untouched wilderness. Among the most relaxing passages in the state, Route 122 will take you through historic towns like Orange and Paxton, as well as several convents and monasteries in the Petersham and Barre area. As you wind your way west, you're likely to spot quite a few picturesque old saw and grist mills just off the road.
Have you taken any of these fantastic road trips? Are you lucky enough to live off of one of the byways? Let us know!