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WB4F Ride #5: I Ride to Gorge

Map of route from Holyoke through Northampton to Chesterfield, down into Huntington, then through Westhampton and Southampton to Holyoke

A couple of days ago I did my fifth ride. This was another one that began and ended at my house. I started out with an easy ride north on Route 5 to Northampton, where I got on the rail trail that parallels 5 (and which is next to active railroad tracks). This is a piece of trail that has existed for 11 years – I was there for the ribbon cutting in 2009 and blogged about it here.

Here’s the bridge that carries the trail over Main St. (click on pictures to see full size version):

Looking along paved trail, just ahead there are wood fences on either side and the rusty-red frame of a bridge in the distance

Just a little further along is the other bridge on this trail, which passes over North St.:

Looking along paved trail, there are wood fences on either side and the rusty-red frame of a bridge in the distance.  Railroad tracks can be seen to the right.

On the trails in Northampton there were several signs like this one:

Yellow sign planted in grass next to pavement.  Black text on the sign reads "Mandatory mask zone at all times".

Fortunately, I was all set, as I was wearing my neck gaiter over my mouth and nose whenever riding in an area where I might pass near people.

When I got near the northern part of this trail, I headed northwest on the original Noho bike path, which took me all the way to Look Park. I went through the park onto the trail section in Leeds (a village of Northampton), which also opened in 2009. Here’s a wayfinding sign at the main road crossing in Leeds:

Sign on a metal stand, which gives direction and distances to points the trail goes to.

Just after that crossing, there is an exit ramp from what used to be the end of the trail:

Paved trail heading away into the woods, with an exit ramp off to the right side.

However, the trail now goes further northwest, a little ways into the town of Williamsburg. On the way, there is a bridge over Beaver Brook, from which there is a nice view of the Mill River:

Looking down at small river, with trees and greenery all around.

And there is a marking of the town line on the trail shortly after that bridge:

White paint on pavement which reads "Williamsburg" on one side of a line, and then upside-down lettering on the other side of the line, reading "Northampton".

Near its end, the trail gets narrow, and then has a sharp curve before it lets out onto River Road:

Narrow paved trail stretching a short distance away, with a wooden railing on the left side.  Ahead is a dirt berm, and trees beyond that.

Once off the trail, I made my way on a couple of side streets to Route 9, and then doubled back a bit to the southeast on 9 to Bread Euphoria – a great bakery and restaurant, where I picked up some lunch to go (I got the Burgy Cheese Steak).

Bakery building - with sign on it saying "Bread Euphoria".  There is a gravel parking area in front, and trees behind the building.

I then followed Route 9 northwest all the way to and through Williamsburg Center, and then turned onto Route 143 to go due west. This is where my climbing for the day began. As 143 heads up into the town of Chesterfield, it initially climbs for about 1.5 miles. During the climb, I ran across this sign:

Sign hanging from a wooden post that reads "Wanted: peace, love, understanding, and wood chips".  There is greenery all around.

I also looked up at one point in the climb and saw a hawk sitting on a telephone wire just ahead of me. However, it flew off into the woods before I could think about stopping and getting out my phone to take a picture.

After that 1.5 miles, there is some level riding for a bit, and a small amount of downhill riding. Just after that downhill there’s this marsh off the side of the road:

Small marsh area, with grasses and brush around.

As I stopped to look at this, some birds flew out of the water and away from me. I could not identify what species they were. I continued on, and did some more climbing to get up to Chesterfield center. Here are some of the buildings there:

Tall white church building
Small white library building, with trees in front of it, and a sign nearby reading "Chesterfield center national historic district".

I also saw the second instance on 143 of this highway name:

Roadside sign reading "General Lafayette trail"

And just as I was leaving the town center, and about to head downhill, I got to the Chesterfield General Store:

Building painted dark blue, with tables and chairs outdoors for dining - there are yellow umbrellas over the tables.  In front of the place is a dirt parking lot, and there are trees behind.

I bought a bottle of blood orange lemonade here, and sat outside to eat my lunch. Afterward, I continued west, on the long, fast downhill part of 143. When I say fast, I mean that my bike got up to a speed of 42.5 miles per hour at one point (and I used my brakes on parts of the hill). It was pretty exhilarating.

Right after reaching the bottom, I turned left (south) onto Ireland St., and shortly came to my main destination for the day: the Chesterfield Gorge. This is a pretty natural feature of the Westfield River, maintained by a nonprofit known as the Trustees of Reservations. Here’s one of the introductory signs, and some views of the gorge itself:

Large signboard with signs about the Chesterfield Gorge on the Westfield River, East Branch.  Woods can be seen behind the board.
Water flowing over rocks at the bottom of a rocky gorge, with a bit of greenery at the edges of the gorge walls.
Water flowing at bottom of rocky gorge, with trees above gorge walls.
Looking downriver in gorge, with trees above gorge walls on either side.
Looking slightly upriver in rocky gorge, with trees above gorge walls, and a bit of railing visible in the foreground.

One can walk further downriver, outside of the official gorge reservation, where there is a town fishing area. It’s not a gorge at that point, but you can walk out on the rocks in the river, so I did. Here’s a view looking back upriver (north) toward the gorge:

Looking upriver, with a lot of rocks in the water, and trees on either side.
Looking downriver, with a lot of rocks in the water, and trees on either side.

After standing in the middle of the river, I walked back up to the gorge parking lot, where my bike was chained up. I headed out, and went further south on Ireland St., which immediately starts climbing after the gorge. The climbing is not too long, but the first few bits of it are reasonably steep, so I had to stop and rest once on the way to the top. At the top of the hill, there’s a plateau for a little while, and there are some farms and an orchard there. Here’s a cow pasture up there (with cows in the distance):

Large pasture with cows grazing in the distance, and trees beyond them.

Shortly, I got to go downhill for the rest of this street, until I came to Route 112 in the town of Worthington. There’s a little village center at that intersection, called South Worthington:

Red building on the upper right of photo, with a sign on it reading "South Worthington".  A small river flows past in the lower left, and otherwise there are trees and brush around.

That waterway is called the Little River.

From here I headed south on 112, quickly passing into the town of Huntington. At one point I noticed some orange construction barrels up ahead, and they turned out to be marking a rockslide on the edge of the road:

A wall of rocks with muddy spot where several rocks a.  Trees above the rocks.
Pile of large rocks on the edge of the road, with orange barrels marking the hazard to warn traffic.

Most of the riding on 112 in this direction is downhill, so I was making pretty good time. I stopped at a scenic outlook to this picture, showing the Knightville Dam in the distance:

River valley full of greenery, with a large stone dam at the far end.  Some hills can be seen on the other side of the valley, and there's a bit of guardrail in the foreground.

Not long after this, I came to the intersection of 112 and state Route 66 (the western end of 66). I turned onto 66 to head east and began to climb. This climb is not very steep, but it is long. I stopped to rest a couple of times. There was one place I stopped because it contained something I did not remember from previous times I’d traveled this road – there is a bench and water spigot, which I can only think must have been put there for cyclists, as there’s nothing else around:

Wooden bench near a water spigot on a rusty base, in a grassy area with bushes and trees behind.

Looking to the right of this (downhill), you can see that it’s just a grassy area by the side of the road:

Grassy area on left, with road surface on right.

I was not tempted to use the area, as the spigot seemed to be leaky, and its base was rusted, so that there was a pool of rusty water around the base.

I kept climbing, and eventually got to the top of the ridge, just before crossing the town line into Westhampton. I went downhill for a couple of miles, before going a bit upward to Outlook Farm, where I’ve stopped a number of times in the past. I did not stop there on this trip, but turned south there, and rode further downhill into the town of Southampton. I made my way to the town center, which looks like this:

Brick town hall building, with large lawn in front of it, and a gazebo to the right side.
Road in the forground, with a stone marker and flagpole on grass on the other side of the road.  Trees and a couple of houses can be seen beyond a side street.

I went a bit east of this point, then further south, and then headed east over a small hill I had not traveled before (on White Loaf Road – not sure how it got that name). This took me back to the Holyoke city line, and I headed over one last hill to get home. The distance for this trip was 58.66, which brings my September total to 266.66.

Odometer showing mileage of fifty-eight point six six.

Posted by seaking on 09-20-2020 at 10:09 pm
Posted in Biking

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