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New Trails Among the New England Hardwoods

New Trails Among the New England Hardwoods

Trail Accelerator Grantee: Purple Valley NEMBA, Williamstown, MA

Posted: March 11, 2024
Beautiful landscape shot of tall, green grasses, white birch, and rolling New England hardwood hills... you see why they call it Purple Valley.

Nestled amidst the picturesque landscapes of Williamstown, Massachusetts, lies the untapped recreation potential of the Berlin Mountain Road Area. Here, Purple Valley NEMBA (formerly Purple Valley Trail Alliance) envisions a transformative project that will not only revitalize the region's outdoor spaces but also foster a sense of community and inclusivity by bringing sustainable, accessible mountain biking trails to the area for the first time.

The Berlin Mountain Road Area boasts over 500 acres of rolling hills and classic New England hardwood forests, yet it lacks purpose-built mountain bike trails. Despite the abundance of natural beauty and existing hiking trails, the absence of dedicated mountain biking routes leaves a void in the outdoor recreational offerings of Williamstown. For years, residents and visitors alike have yearned for trails that cater specifically to mountain biking enthusiasts, echoing the sentiment: "Where are the mountain bike trails?"

Enter Purple Valley NEMBA's ambitious initiative—the creation of a 10-20-mile trail system designed for mountain biking, with provisions for pedestrians, horsemen, and adaptive equipment users. Through strategic planning and collaboration, this project seeks to fill the gap in Williamstown's outdoor amenities by providing purpose-built trails that cater to diverse skill levels and interests, with trails close to where people live.


Purple Valley NEMBA's journey towards realizing this vision has been one of community engagement and collaboration. With support from the Town of Williamstown, Williamstown Rural Land Foundation, and Williams College, the project has garnered widespread enthusiasm and backing. Together, these partnerships lay the foundation for a trail network that not only enhances outdoor recreation but also contributes to the economic and cultural vitality of Northern Berkshire County.

"Williamstown has a phenomenal network of hiking trails, but when it comes to mountain biking, we are really starting from scratch. Having guidance, resources, and expertise from IMBA will help us translate our aspirations into a professional plan that we can put into action!" - Lewis Collins, Purple Valley NEMBA

The proposed trail system will offer a broad range of difficulty levels, from easy climbing trails to challenging descents, catering to both novice riders and seasoned mountain bikers. Additionally, efforts will be made to ensure connectivity to town bike paths and other access options, facilitating easy access for residents and visitors alike. The project is not merely about building trails but also about fostering a sense of community and inclusivity, with a focus on youth engagement, diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI) initiatives.

With this IMBA Trail Accelerator grant, Purple Valley NEMBA will create trails that provide thrilling adventures and also foster a sense of belonging and connection to the natural surroundings. The new addition of mountain bike trails will help create a new future for outdoor recreation in the area, connecting bikers with equestrians and hikers. Further, this work will contribute to existing momentum around conservation and protecting the landscape combined with positive, passive use of the wonderful open space that exists near Williamstown.

IMBA’s Trail Solutions planners will visit Williamstown later this year and begin this concept planning with the local community.

About the author
Marty Caivano, IMBA Local Programs

Marty started mountain biking in '99, when the usual way to begin riding was to be dragged on a death march by well-meaning friends who left you miles behind with no way to fix a flat. Thankfully, this didn't prevent her from falling in love with the sport (and also becoming a professional…

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