Gnarly double track with lots of mud, big climbs and descents, and a lot of rocks. It's a big ride, requires plenty of time, but is totally worth it. To the north of Rt. 2 is Hopkins Forest (check out the Shepard's Well Trail there) and the Snow Hole--always fun--to the south is a big climb to the top of Mt. Berlin with awesome views just about treeline.
There are a number of ways to access the Taconic Crest, the simplest is to join it at the crossing over Petersburg Pass on Rt. 2. From Williams College, you can take the RRR Brooks Trail (of the Bottom of Bee Hill Rd.) or find the access trail at the top of Old Petersburg Rd. Both lead to the Shepard's Well, which runs parallel to Rt. 2, all the way up to the Crest. My access way there is to take the Jeep Trail at the old Williams College Ski Area at Mt. Berlin. Follow Bee Hill Rd. across Rt. 2 and join Berlin Rd. The Jeep Trail is just on the left as you enter the clearing at the bottom of Mt. Berlin.
Rough maps of the Taconic Crest and access trails are available at the Petersburg Pass trailhead. If you're still looking for it, ask at the Spoke, on Rt. 2, and they'll help you find it.
Summary: The Shepherd's Well trail and a section of the TCT north of Petersburg Pass, both in Hopkins Forest, are off-limits to bikers. Not that anyone pays much attention, but there's plenty of signage, so don't whine if you get busted.
Review Date June 3, 2002
Overall Rating 4 of 5
Ridden Trail: Every few months
Reviewed by: Liam
, from The Old Country
Summary: From this end of the Taconic Crest Trail, the going is really, really strenuous. The trail alternates between rugged double and truly intimidating single track. The trail also undulates several times up and down the ridge here so in addition to your initial climb up (@ 1500ft), you can tack on another 1000 ft or so of total climbing due to the up and down nature of the trail. It's not for the faint of heart (literally or figuratively) but for your adventuruous climbing junkies it will give you as big a sende of accomplishment as anything can in the East. Check with Tom of Ordinary Cycles in Pittsfield for Taconic Crest Trail Routes and entry points in the Hancock/ stephentown area.
Recommended Route: Actually, I've always ridden the taconic crest from it's more southerly points. I started at the bottom of Round Mountain Road right off of Rte 43 in Stephentown, NY (Just before the Mass/NY border on 43). From there it's a killer climb up a dirt road to a lookout where the Taconic Crest Trail loops around allowing you to either go North towards Mt. Berlin or North (yeah, I mean North) towards Hancock-there are two trail heads on either sid of the lookout area...both are rigorous, rocky and hilly, I used to ride to Hancock, down Madden Road, then up Potter Mountain Road and into Pittsfield State Forest which has some of the finest trails in the region...if you can find 'em. The Taconic Crest trail also runs off off Potter Mountain RD in Hancock for 10 miles to rte 20 in Pittsfield (i.e the whole length of the Pittsfield State forest...good luck riding that branch of the trail!).
Other recommended trails in the same area: Pittsfield State Forest; Yukon Ridge; Cherry Plains/Stephentown Reserve..see Cherry Plains in NY under these trail listings!
Review Date May 22, 2002
Overall Rating 5 of 5
Ridden Trail: Once a week
Reviewed by: Dan
, from Cambridge & Williamstown, MA
Summary: The Taconic Crest is one of the best trails on the east coast. It's not that popular, largely because its long, long, long climbs (Mt. Berlin is almost 2000 ft higher than the starting height at the bottom of Rt. 2) demand a very high level of fitness from its riders. Plus, it's very muddy and sometimes rocky--and thus technical--so not that appealing to novices. It's totally worth it, however. Just bring plenty of food and water--and maybe your camera as well, the views are great. It's often 10-20 degrees cooler at the top of the mountain than it is at the bottom, so on cool days you'll want to make sure you have a jacket, arm warmers, or something else to keep you warm. If you make it to the top of Berlin, there's a spectacular section through an old-growth hemlock and fern forest that just to the south that you should definitely check out.
Recommended Route: Take the RRR Brooks trail up from Bee Hill to the Shepard's Well. Enjoy the view from the huckleberry patch, then head over to the Taconic Crest. Follow it across Rt. 2 and ride to the top of Berlin. Enjoy the view again. Turn around and come down the jeep trail to the bottom of Berlin. Be amazed at how much climbing you did.
Other recommended trails in the same area: White Oaks, Bellows Pipe, there's a great descent off of Deer Ridge at Mt. Hope Farm down to a fun river crossing