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  1. #1
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    10-03-2020
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    Amherst, Massachusetts
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    Default Tools for planning bootleg multi-day multi-forest hike?

    Hi all, I'm in the beginning stages of planning a Long Trail hike late this summer/September (in hopes of vaccines working and resupply & shuttles being easier), and it occurred to me, why don't I just walk the rest of the way? I'm in the Pioneer Valley of Massachusetts so basically I'm looking at how I might hike between the southern terminus/Williamstown and Greenfield or Amherst. Haven't firmly decided NOBO or SOBO yet. If I do this bootleg thing, I'll probably go NOBO to get the hard/janky part done first.

    The state forest and their trails cover a decent chunk of mileage, and my All Trails research last night shows a ton of other trails, but I suspect they're not much, not blazed, and perhaps non-existent. Obviously I don't want to walk 30+ miles on a highway, but it's some beautiful country between the AT and the Connecticut River, just a lot of up & over. Even back roads between forests/conservation land would be beautiful, but I'd like to string together as much non-motorized mileage as possible, obviously.

    Has anyone here done this kind of bootleg planning before? I do realize depending on my timing, we're getting into hunting season, and I'm well practiced at stealth camping. I've got time to go check out stretches of trail to confirm travelability, but things could be quite overgrown between now (or even May) and August/September.

    My sense is that All Trails is unreliable at best for anything that isn't an actual user-reviewed trail. Where does All Trails draw that data from, anyway? Any suggestions for finding the little trails that generally only locals know about that are all over New England?

  2. #2
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    06-25-2012
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    Default

    Interesting question. I found this list, maybe it will be helpful to you.

    https://www.mass.gov/lists/dcr-trail-maps

  3. #3
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    Default

    Thanks illabelle. Yep, those are the "easy" parts, and many of those trails & properties I know well. It's the in-betweens I'm trying to figure out. All Trails shows an astonishing number of trails through the "hill towns" as we call them, and few of them are on DCR or Trustees properties. There are some private forestry companies who allow public access to their tree farms. Then there's just... random trails marked on All Trails. It's pretty wild country up there, at least for Massachusetts. I assume they're old logging roads that locals have sort of tacitly kept up themselves with ATVs and chainsaws as necessary. I've been on some of these, but they've always been word of mouth. I just can't tell what I'm looking at when I'm seeing the trails marked on All Trails through these seemingly private-ish sections on the map. Curious whether there are other apps (caltopo?) or resources that might narrow down the number of trails I'd have to drive out to and investigate in coming months.

  4. #4

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    Just hike RT 9 until you get to the AT

    Looks to me the best you can do is link up a whole lot of secondary roads which head more or less in that direction. `I have a map called OpenCycleMap on my phone which shows pretty much every trail and road there is. The only problem is you have to zoom in real close to see detail so getting an overview isn't easy. The MA Gazetteer is pretty detailed, showing trails and dirt roads, so that would be a good investment.
    Follow slogoen on Instagram.

  5. #5

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    https://www.mass.gov/location-detail...n-mohawk-trail

    Eventually, from the CT River to the Hudson.

    Several other Googleable resources out there, too.

    Neat idea.

    Cosmo

  6. #6
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    Quote Originally Posted by Cosmo View Post
    https://www.mass.gov/location-detail...n-mohawk-trail

    Eventually, from the CT River to the Hudson.

    Several other Googleable resources out there, too.

    Neat idea.

    Cosmo
    Thanks! Yeah in the time since I posted, I went DEEP down the Mohawk Trail rabbithole. There's lots of conflicting info, and part of it's water trail, and I stayed up way too late several nights trying to piece together a route. But there's one landowner who doesn't want anyone spoiling their 300 yards of private, MINE MINE MINE river beach, and another section that seems to have washed out in April, so unless people get real motivated soon, even the 30 miles of completed trail may not last long. I even started figuring out the logistics of renting a canoe from one of the river outfitters for a one-way trip but portaging around several hydro plants in a river that has been channelized in places, moved, canaled, dammed, and beat to all hell in Hurricane Irene in 2011 is just... a lot, on top of a very long hike.

    But now I'm obsessed. I even joined a fb group where townies post memories of long-gone bowling alleys and soda fountains and whatever along "The Mohawk Trail." I drove out there a couple times recently and there's all this frankly offensive "Indian" themed stuff. So I'm thinking a lot about what exactly white people are "remembering" when they're "remembering" the Mohawks. I want to know why the Mohawks used the trail to war with the Pocumtucs, whose land I currently live on. I have heard someone up the road talking about his incredible farmland, like much of the Connecticut River valley, being farmed by both English settlers and native folks, side by side. I kind of doubt much of that happened, but there are so many layers upon layers of culture, war, farming, industrialization, construction, destruction, and disaster that I want to walk this trail, or some variation, so bad.

    Unfortunately Route 2, built in 1912 overtop some parts of the "original" (or at least extant) Mohawk Trail, is a major truck route and traffic goes 50-60 mph on much of it. People bike it, but not very often. I like road walking fine but I don't enjoy narrow high speed highways.

    Anyway... I did eventually find Wandermap and I now have a workable 60-mile route with minimal questionable portions. It does have me walking up and over a ski resort, so I think I'm going to find a way around instead. But it's amazing how much depends on bridges being in working order. At any rate - it's easy enough to corroborate trails that go through public lands, harder when what appear to be trails don't seem to look that way from satellite or any other map besides All Trails.

    Still wondering about which data sources are most reliable - Google Maps gave me absolutely nonsense directions to a state forest the other day, insisting there was a road where clearly there hasn't been one in at least 15-20 years, judging by the size of the trees. Open Street Maps seems to suggest almost anything is a trail.

    In any case, it's a fun project.

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