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Cycling Over Hill and Dale in Berkshires


Several biking tours through western Massachusetts are scheduled for this summer and fall. Tour dates are set for July 26-30, Aug. 31-Sept. 4, Sept. 27-Oct. 1 and Oct. 18-22. The five-day cycling routes take riders through the Berkshires' valleys, with farmlands and streams, graceful 19th-Century estates and the quaint New England villages of Lenox and Stockbridge. In the autumn, the region is famed for its outstanding foliage. Stops are made at the Tanglewood Music Festival (July) for a picnic and Boston Symphony Orchestra concert; a visit to the studio where Norman Rockwell painted his portraits of Americana; a stop at Chesterwood, the estate of Daniel Chester French, sculptor of the Lincoln Memorial, and a hike along a stretch of the Appalachian Trail to Bash Bish Falls, a cascade in the Berkshire range. There are several opportunities to sample local ice cream and hidden swimming holes, browse antique stores, craft shops and galleries. Terrain ranges from gentle to hilly, with options for all abilities of 25 to 60 miles per day.

Cost: $775 per person, including accommodations, breakfasts and dinners. Top-quality 21-speed bicycles can be rented for $79. Not included: air fare to Massachusetts. Contact: Easy Rider Tours, P.O. Box 228, Newburyport, MA 01950; telephone (800) 488-8332.

Scottish Highlands

The remote, rugged Scottish Highlands can be seen from horseback on five- or 10-day trips that leave throughout the year. Participants stay in historic hotels and bed-and-breakfast inns. The ride begins in Huntly, on Scotland's northeast border, 200 miles north of Edinburgh, and traverses the country to the Atlantic coast, ending at Shiel Bridge over Loch Duich, gateway to the island of Skye.

Riders go through mountain passes, open glens and peat bogs, and cross rivers and streams. Other trail sights include the Cairn River valley, the Caledonian Forest, Deeside and Braemar, near the royal family's famous summer home, Balmoral Castle.

Cobb horses and long-distance saddles smooth the way to cover 30 miles in about seven hours of riding each day. The long distances and open terrain offer the experienced rider many chances for fast gallops. Groups of no more than 10 riders are led by an experienced guide. Built into the itinerary is a day of leisure in Kingussie, where one can explore ancient churches, a fort, whiskey distilleries and shops.

Cost: $1,895 for a 10-day trip, or $1,050 for a five-day ride, including use of horse and equipment, luggage transfer, guide, overnight accommodations, all meals and tax. Not included: air fare to Scotland. Arrangements can be made to be picked up and/or dropped off at Aberdeen airport. Contact: Cross Country International Equestrian Vacations, P.O. Box 1170, Millbrook, NY 12545; tel. (800) 828-8768.

Biking to Ruins

Crow Canyon Archaeological Center in Cortez, Colo., is offering a blend of mountain biking and archeology in "Biking to Ancient Ruins," Oct. 1 for seven days in the Four Corners region, where Arizona, Colorado, New Mexico and Utah meet.

Participants will ride to remote archeological sites including Cannonball Ruins, Castle Rock Pueblo, Sand Canyon Pueblo and Hovenweep National Monument. Ricky Lightfoot, an avid biker and archeologist who has spent 15 years conducting research in this area, will lead the group.

Bikers will pedal along Jeep tracks, dirt roads and single track trails to the edges of deep canyons and the tops of high mesas, where ancient ruins stand. The program will involve moderately strenuous rides of six to 12 miles a day over uneven terrain at altitudes of 6,000 feet or higher.

Cost: $995 per person, double occupancy, including cabin accommodations at the Crow Canyon campus and all meals. Not included: transportation to Colorado. Bike rental is $100. Crow Canyon membership fee is $65 per couple, $40 single. Contact: Crow Canyon Cultural Explorations, 23390 Road K, Cortez, CO 81321; tel. (800) 422-8975, Ext. 146.

Amish Country

A tour of the Pennsylvania Dutch Country to see Amish life is offered on five-day excursions that leave weekly through Nov. 15. Participants share a traditional dinner as the guests of an Amish family in their home. Visits are made to the homes of Amish quilters and crafters, and members will have the chance to purchase items.

The tour also includes visits to nearby Valley Forge National Historic Park, Brandywine Valley and Independence National Historic Park. Longwood Gardens, with more than 350 acres of outdoor gardens and woodlands, is also seen. The tour begins and ends in Philadelphia and is limited to 20 participants.

Cost: from $565 per person, double occupancy, including hotels, ground transportation, daily breakfast and two dinners. Contact: Lang's Great Escapes, P.O. Box 117386, Burlingame, CA 94011-7386; tel. (800)-97AMISH.

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