Map of route going from Hadley up into Franklin County towns and back

I did my third ride for Will Bike 4 Food on Friday the 11th, and this was another one where I drove somewhere with my bike and then did the ride from there. I drove up to Hadley, and parked out behind the Mountain Farms plaza, where there is an access point for the Mass Central Rail Trail (Norwattuck section). Here’s the area where one gets onto the trail (click on any photo to see a larger version):

Paved trail piece connecting to main trail at right angle, with grassy area around it  There are some benches, bike racks, and a bike repair station.

As you approach the trail, this set of signs directs you:

4 brown signs on a post, with white text indicating the distance and direction to several places, such as the Connecticut River, downtown Northampton, and the Fort River.

I took a left turn onto the trail, heading east, and I very soon passed through “Rangeview”, which is simply an area adjacent to South Maple St, where one can see the Holyoke Range to the south. It was overcast and somewhat chilly, but I was not too bothered, despite being in shorts and short sleeves – I knew I would get warmer from the cycling.

I followed the trail until I was just a bit into the town of Amherst, and then headed north on the trail spur known as Swift Way. This took me to the UMass campus, and I made my way through there, stopping briefly to look at the duck pond:

Large pond on the campus of the university of massachusetts.  Buildings and trees can be seen around it.

Just to the west of that is the W. E. B. DuBois Library:

Tall red brick library building on the university of massachusetts campus

I headed north and east from campus, through the north part of Amherst, which is fairly wooded. Here’s a nice little waterway I passed, which I believe is called Dolittle Brook:

Creek with vegetation on either side, seen from up on a bridge.

Just after crossing the brook, I passed into the town of Leverett. The road did some climbing in North Amherst, but it began to climb more in earnest in Leverett. The road was lined with trees for the most part, but here’s a spot where there was a break in the trees for electric lines:

Hilly area with lost of brush and trees, and electric lines on towers heading over a hill in the distance.

I also noted at one point that somebody who lives (or lived) in Leverett is a fan of The Prisoner:

Street sign reading "Number Six Road", with trees in background

The road climbed almost continuously as I neared the next town line (Shutesbury), and kept climbing into the town. There were a couple of brief points where it was more level, but one is essentially climbing until reaching the town center. In Shutesbury center is this wayfinding sign:

White, wooden 4-sided sign column, giving distances to different towns and areas in black text.  It stands in a field of grass and a road passes nearby, with trees in distance.

And here is the town hall:

Shutesbury town hall building, painted a light-blue color, there is a large banner on the building reading "Black Lives Matter"

From there I headed north (toward Wendell). I got a bunch of nice downhill riding on this road, until I got to Lake Wyola state park. There is a beach there, though it was a slightly chilly day, so only a few people were there. Here are the lake and the picnic area in the park:

Low row of hedges in front of a sandy beach, with lake beyond that.  There is a lifeguard tower on the beach, but no lifeguard on duty.  Blue sky with a few clouds above.
Low row of hedges in front of a sandy beach, with lake beyond that.  Blue sky with a few clouds above, and tree-covered hill in the distance.
Grassy area withe a few picnic tables and charcoal grills.  Lots of trees in the background.

I continued north from the lake, with the road occasionally moving east, up into the town of Wendell. There was some more hill climbing, but not as much as what I did in Leverett and Shutesbury. On the way up to Wendell, I noticed this sign on a phone pole:

Wooden sign mounted on a telephone pole, with the words "I Love You" painted on the sign in white.  Trees behind pole.

It was not in front of a house, so I have no idea who put it there, or how long it has been up. Once I got up the hill in Wendell, I passed a house that had this figure displayed by the road:

A very weathered, stuffed figure looking like Santa Claus, wearing a medical face mask, seated in grass and surrounded by a ring of stones.

I expect the mask was put on in reflection of the COVID pandemic, but was the display already there beforehand, without the mask? And if so, what could it mean?

In any case, I shortly reached the town center. Wendell has a reasonably long common – here is what it looks like from the north end, looking south:

Long field of grass on town common.  There is a large rock in the foreground, and trees line each side of the common.

From here, I went slightly further north, and then turned west to head toward Millers Falls. Right after I turned, I stopped to look at this marsh:

Large marsh, with fairly deep looking water, and trees in the distance.

While I was stopped there, someone passing in a pickup truck pulled up next to me, and said “Beautiful, isn’t it?” I agreed, and the driver mentioned that there are otters in the marsh. It turns out the driver lives across the road from the marsh, and sometimes sees otters in the driveway. I unfortunately did not see any otters that day.

On this road (Farley Road), I got to go downhill a lot. It was almost all downhill heading into Millers Falls (which is a village center of the town of Montague), though there were a couple of small uphill portions. Here’s the view looking back from one of those uphill bits:

Looking downhill with a road on the right, grass and brush on the left, and some electric wire towers stretching into the distance, heading over a tree-covered hill (through a gap in the trees on the hill).

Once I got into Millers Falls, I went north and crossed the Millers River. Here’s a view upriver from the bridge:

Looking down on wide, shallow river, with trees on either side, and at a distance there is a train bridge crossing the river.

Once I was on the other side of the bridge I was in the town of Erving. I rode a bit west on Route 2, and then took a side fork, which allowed me to cross back over the Millers River near its mouth, on a bike and pedestrian bridge (part of the Franklin County Bikeway). It’s a favorite spot of mine, mainly because of this view, which is looking downriver at the mouth of the Millers, as it empties into the Connecticut River, and beyond that the French King Bridge, which carries Route 2 over the Connecticut:

Water of river with trees on either side, and high bridge seen in distance

Here’s the little bridge that I was on:

Looking along small bridge with wooden decking and railings, and metal frame above.  Trees seen on the far side.

I headed south from here, and uphill for a short distance. Once I got a little ways into Montague, I went west on a road that I had not followed before. It turned out to be a dirt road, which went through a state wildlife management area. The road itself was not hilly at all, which was nice, but it did have lots of ruts that had puddles in them, so I had to avoid those. There were also a few sections of road that were sandy, and so my traction was not great (and my steering was a bit affected). It was mostly wooded, but at one point toward the western side of the area there was a big parking area, and some clearings stretching north and south:

Dirt parking area, with traffic gate blocking a path, some trees and brush beyond that, plus an electric wire tower.

Here’s the road itself, looking west from this parking area:

Dirt road stretching into the distance, with trees on either side.

The road became paved shortly before it ended, and I turned south onto a more main road (Turners Falls Road), then went a bit more west, and headed south on a series of roads that follow the Conn. River. I made my way through the rest of Montague, and then through the town of Sunderland, getting onto Route 47. I followed 47 all the way into Hadley, and back to the MCRT. I then took the trail east back to where the car was parked, finishing the ride in about 5.5 hours. My total distance was 52.44 miles, bringing the total for the month to about 157.5.

Odometer showing mileage of fifty-two point four four.

Next ride goes to another state – stay tuned.