Daytrippers: A mountain coaster to the max

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CHARLEMONT, Mass. -- At the Berkshire East Ski Area they haven't gone off the rails, but it's pretty close.

The newest edition to the mountain is what is known as the Thunderbolt -- billed as North America's biggest mountain coaster. "We designed it so it goes through rocks and drops, we wanted to have a lot of turns and swoops," said Gabe Porter-Henry, the marketing manager at Berkshire East.

The ascent is 1,580 feet, and then the twisting and turning begins down 3,850 feet of stainless steel rails.

The cars are all made for two people and have hand brakes so the speed is in the riders hands.

"If you want to open it up all the way, you can," Porter-Henry said. "For most people they throttle back the second or third time they go."

Katie Benedetti, from Charlemont,  was enjoying the Thunderbolt with her husband Gary and said, "One ride is not enough!"

Jon Schaefer, the owner of Berkshire East, said, "When we go to build something, we make it a category killer."

The experience combines the mountain scenery with plenty of speed.

"You are always moving through the woods, your views change and you are never going in a straight line," Schaefer said.

The Thunderbolt is open Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays--as well as Thursday, June 11. Rides cost $15 for the driver and $10 for passenger, and the more rides you buy the more the cost decreases.

Berkshire East also has an array of other outdoors activities for spring, summer and fall, including rafting, zip line parks and a mountain bike course, which is set to open in July.

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