Connecticut River Scenic Byway – MA

Details

  • DesignationNational Scenic Byway (2009)
  • Intrinsic QualitiesHistoric
  • LocationMA, NH, VT
  • Length498.7 for 3 state total miles
Byway Visitor Information
Franklin Regional Council of Governments
Statewide Byway Partners
Massachusetts Department of Transportation
Connecticut River Scenic Byway Tri-State Guide & Map
From Mount Sugarloaf
Christopher Curtis Photo

Overview

The history, heritage, and culture of farming in the Connecticut River Valley is a prominent theme of the Connecticut River Scenic Byway that continues to play an important role in the current economy and provides visitors with the opportunity to experience and enjoy the bounties. The landscape of the Byway centers on the Connecticut River and includes the neighboring farmlands, floodplains, step-like terraces, and the slopes of the bordering uplands. The river and surrounding landscape provide rich recreational opportunities.

Local Byway Partners

Story of the Byway

The landscape of the Byway centers on the Connecticut River and includes the neighboring farmlands, floodplains, step-like terraces, and the slopes of the bordering uplands. The Connecticut River is New England's longest river and largest watershed. It spans four states (New Hampshire, Vermont, Massachusetts, and Connecticut). The river originates in New Hampshire at the Canadian border and travels 410 miles, eventually making its way to the Atlantic Ocean at the Long Island Sound. Its fertile alluvial soils provide prime agricultural land the river's length, particularly in Massachusetts, where it was described as the "Bread Basket of New England." The history, heritage, and culture of farming in the Connecticut River Valley is a prominent theme of the Connecticut River Scenic Byway that continues to play an important role in the current economy and provides visitors with the opportunity to experience and enjoy the bounties. Agricultural operations remain prominent within the byway corridor and very much a part of the local economy. Today, the Connecticut River Scenic Farm Byway is representative of a national movement where food is locally grown, and family farms prevail. Visitors to the area can visit farm stands along the way and enjoy the seasonal harvest.

The Byway landscape of widely spaced farms and farmhouses fronting the roads and small village centers with single-family houses clustered near stores and churches is characteristic of New England. The structures most commonly found in the Connecticut River Valley date from the end of the 18th Century to the present. In addition to agriculture, mill villages were established in the Connecticut River Valley by the late 17th Century. The landscape and village character still reflects this industrial history.

The river and surrounding landscape provide many recreational opportunities. The communities along the Byway are rich in cultural resources that provide visitors with a view into the past as well as the arts and culture of today. There are several educational institutions along the route that further enhance the offerings, resources, and experiences for travelers to the area.

Driving Directions

The Connecticut River Scenic Byway in Massachuasetts is 38-miles long. The byway travels North-South through the Connecticut River Valley in 2 counties in Massachusetts. It travels through the towns of Northfield, Erving, Montague, and Sunderland in Franklin County, and through the towns of Hadley and South Hadley in Hampshire County. The Byway is on Route 63 and 47.

Points of Interest

  • Northfield Drive-in Movie Theatre

    The Northfield Drive-in Movie Theatre is unique because it is one of only four remaining drive-in movie theaters in Massachusetts and nineteen in New England. The theatre straddles the Northfield, Massachusetts and Winchester, New Hampshire town and state lines.

  • Historic District Villages

    The Connecticut River Scenic Farm Byway travels through six nationally recognized historic districts - Northfield, Montague Center, Sunderland, North Hadley, Hadley Center, and Hockanum.

  • Mount Toby

    Mount Toby is located to the east of the Byway in Sunderland. From the Byway, Mount Toby and the surrounding state forest create a picturesque backdrop to the farmland of the Connecticut River Valley. A trailhead and hiking trails are available just off the Byway.

  • Buttonball Tree in Sunderland

    The famous “Buttonball Tree” is an American sycamore (Platanus occidentalis). It is located on Main Street (Route 47) to the north of the town center. It is said to be one of the largest trees of its type in the northeast. Its age is estimated to be between 200 to 400 years old.

  • The Hadley Farm Museum

    Located in a restored 1782 barn at the junction with Route 9, the Hadley Farm Museum houses a collection of agricultural and domestic tools and memorabilia that provide insight into the lives of those who settled in Hadley and its surroundings more than 300 years ago.

  • Porter-Phelps-Huntington House Museum in Hadley

    Through the words, spaces, and possessions of three generations of women, the Porter-Phelps-Huntington Museum portrays the activities of a wealthy and productive 18th century household, known as “Forty Acres.”

  • The Village Commons in South Hadley

    The Village Commons is a contemporary interpretation of a traditional New England village center.

  • Mount Holyoke College, South Hadley

    A visit to the Mount Holyoke College campus could include the art museum and botanic gardens. The Mount Holyoke College Art Museum is one of the oldest collegiate art museums in the United States and features American and European art; Asian, Egyptian and Classical art; and Medieval and Renaissance paintings and sculpture.

  • The Montague Mill

    The Montague Mill a former 19th century stone grist mill is located near Montague Center, and is a former 19th century stone grist mill that currently contains a small café, a used book store, artist galleries, antique shops, and a gourmet restaurant which overlooks the Sawmill River and the remnants of the former dam.

  • View of the Connecticut River in Northfield.

    Looking south flat alluvial farmland, characteristic of river valleys, and the southern portion of Great Meadow. In the foreground is a wide meander of the Connecticut River, the Northfield-Mount Hermon School campus in Gill is visible on the hill on the western side of the River, and in the far background are rolling hills, mixed with forest, pasture land and hayfields.

  • Deerfield-Sunderland Bridge over the Connecticut River just off the byway on Route 116

    The view while crossing the bridge characterizes the relatively wide, shallow Connecticut River in Massachusetts, to the north is one of the islands in the river, with Mount Toby visible in the background, and to the south are the tree lined banks of the wide river.

  • Mount Sugarloaf in South Deerfield

    There are scenic views of Mount Sugarloaf from the Byway, and the panoramic views from Mount Sugarloaf of the Byway are spectacular.

  • Mount Holyoke

    Dramatic views of the Connecticut River can be seen from the top of Mount Holyoke at the Summit House in Hampshire County.

  • Mount Warner

    Just southeast of Lake Warner in North Hadley, Mount Warner is the second highest point in the town of Hadley. It is a resistant rock outcropping, known as a monadnock, and has long been recognized as a regionally significant landform. It rises above the flat, fertile floodplain of North Hadley from the bed of ancient Lake Hitchcock, the glacial lake that formed during the melting of the last glacial advance.

Itinerary

  • A Trip along the Connecticut River

    Starting at the southernmost point of the Connecticut River Byway in South Hadley, you can immediately take in some of the most wonderful views of the Connecticut River and the surrounding area. Skinner State Park is the perfect place to start off your journey, as it is located right on the bank of the Connecticut River. You will then pass many historic sites and locations as you drive through Hadley, this includes the Hadley Center Historic District and the Hadley Farm Museum which highlight the history and culture of the area.

    After you pass through Hadley, you will have another amazing opportunity to take in the beauty of the area at Connecticut River Greenway State Park. This wonderful State Park gives visitors the chance to rent canoes or kayaks to experience the Connecticut River firsthand. Shortly after this Park, you will reach the town of Sunderland at the base of Mount Toby. There are hiking and walking trails galore throughout this area and is the perfect spot if you are looking to get an even better view of the Connecticut River from the peak of Mount Toby.

    Next up along the Byway you will reach the quaint town of Montague, where you can grab something to eat and then stop by the Montague Center Historic District to learn about the history of this town and area. After you cross Millers River, you will notice the Northfield Mountain Recreation and Environmental Center that provides activities galore for visitors. From there, you can end your journey along this Byway in the town of Northfield and catch a movie at the drive-in movie theatre!

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