20 Family-Friendly Fall Foliage Hikes

20 Family-Friendly Fall Foliage Hikes

When it comes to fall foliage, nothing beats the spectrum of colors on display in the Berkshire hills. Leaf peepers rejoice as the forested landscape erupts into shades of copper, cornelian, cranberry, gold, and every hue in between. From late September to October, this prismatic flash in the pan transforms any regular, old weekend hike into a dream-like ramble. Gazing at these fiery hills from an elevated vantage point makes us feel fixed in suspension, floating between halcyon days and the edges of change.

These hikes are grouped in order of difficulty, beginning with the most accessible for any age. None of the hikes are over 3 miles, yet some may be more suitable for older children because of steeper ascents and proximity to a ledge. Trust your gut, you know best what your family can handle. Be mindful that fall brings hunting season to some places and packing a blaze orange vest is a cheap and effective precaution.

Enjoy the fall, ya’ll!


Three Sisters Sanctuary (Goshen) – Technically located in Hampshire County, this creative gem is well worth a side trip over the Berkshire borders. Touted as a “place where nature and art merge,” one man’s sensational vision is 8-acres of sculpture gardens and art installations. More of a walk than a hike, you could spend hours here trying to take it all in. In the fall, the area gets fully decorated and the surrounding woodlands are also bursting with color. The fire-breathing dragon is incredible to behold against a clear blue sky. If you’re looking for an interactive, beautiful, and accessible fall walk for any age – look no further.

Niles Trail at Mountain Meadow Preserve (Williamstown/Vermont) – At the end of August, we adventured to this Trustees property and couldn’t get enough of the views! We are so excited to go back and take in the view of Greylock and the Hoosac Valley during foliage season. Check out our review here, there were mantids!

Sacred Way Trail at Canoe Meadows Wildlife Sanctuary (Pittsfield) – One of six Mass Audubon properties in Berkshire County, Canoe Meadows is wonderful in every season. Take the Sacred Way Trail and enjoy a gentle, flat 1-mile trail winds through the sanctuary’s scenic woods, fields, wetlands, and along the Housatonic River. Open fields offer opportunities to take in fall colors. A great spot to bird watch for migrant species during the changing seasons. Fall is a great season to Go Pishing!

Benedict Pond Loop Trail (Great Barrington) – Located in lush Beartown State Forest, this flat 1.7 mile loop is great for all ages and offers beautiful views of serene Benedict pond. Surrounded by dense woodlands, this backdrop in fall transition, is something to see.

Glen Meadow Loop at Greylock Glen (Adams) – Established in 2017, the newer 1.5 mile Glen Meadow Loop trail takes you around picturesque Greylock Glen. The trail is gravel, making walking a breeze. Have fun hunting for the remnants of an abandoned ski resort. The wide open views of Greylock and surrounding hills are not to be missed. One of our favorites in all seasons, we come back here in the spring, summer, and the winter

Wild Acres (Pittsfield) – Climb to the top of the observation tower and take in the surrounding mountain foliage. Located off of South Mountain Road in Pittsfield, Wild Acres is a 1.2 mile lightly trafficked loop neighboring the Pittsfield Airport. 

 

Stone Hill Trails at the Clark (Williamstown) – Part of the Clark Art Museum Complex and owned by Williams College, this is one of the most popular destinations in Williamstown for hiking and enjoying the panoramic views over Williamstown. Check out the trail map for a variety of trails, many short and easy, but all beautiful. It’s hard to pick just one!

Trails at Sheep Hill (Williamstown) – Both the grounds and farmhouse are open year round to the public and a classroom is stocked with binoculars, field guides and other materials to borrow during your visit. There are two trails to choose from – the Rosenburg Ramble which takes you around the perimeter of the property, and the shorter Meadow Walk. Both of these trails offer dramatic views of the valley and surrounding mountains. Rosenburg Ramble is approximately 1- 1.5 miles. The Meadow Walk is a short, easy way to enjoy the views of Sheep Hill, and loops around the pond at the foot of the hillside.

Tyringham Cobble Loop (Tyringham) – Tucked away in tiny Tyringham, this Trustees property includes a 2.1 mile loop trail running through a combination of meadow and forest. Keep an eye out for the aptly named Rabbit Rock! A well-marked trail leads to a spectacular view of the valley at the summit. See if you can spot the quaint Tyringham churchyard from the top!

Warner Hill (Hinsdale/Pittsfield) – Part of the AT, this easy up-and-back hike is 1.4 miles, ideal for families. Head through a dense evergreen forest, crunch through fallen maple and beech leaves along old stone walls, and finally to Warner Hill, where the summit offers a view of Mount Greylock on a clear day.The trailhead is right off a small the parking shoulder on Blotz Road, in Pittsfield.

Rounds Rock Trail (Cheshire) – Part of Mount Greylock State Reservation, Rounds Rock is a great spot to tackle a less strenuous hike at Greylock. This 0.9 mile trail is a moderately trafficked loop and is good for all skill levels. The remains of a 1948 plane crash and its memorial is a point of interest. The hike reaches its peak with two scenic vistas offering gorgeous autumn views.

North Trail at Field Farm (Williamstown) – Nestled in the valley between the Greylock and Taconic ranges, you’ll find another Trustees property. Field Farm boasts a pond, caves, sculpture garden, and two modernist style homes all located onsite. North Trail is a popular hike, a mile long trail that encircles the central pasture and shows off jaw-dropping mountain views in all directions. Another trail, the Caves Loop, will enchant any imagination, no matter the age. We enjoy visiting the beavers during the winter months, too.

York Lake Loop Trail in Sandisfield State Forest (Sandisfield) – This loop trail encircles the lake through dense woods and busy wetlands. The trail is 2.2 miles long and can be wet in places depending on the weather. The open beach area is wonderful place for foliage viewing while enjoying a picnic lunch.

 

Laura’s Tower Trail (Stockbridge) – A 1.5 mile out-and-back hike that begins with a quiet walk through an old pine and hemlock grove. Boulders crop up on the wide trail towards yellowing birch trees. At the top of your climb you will reach a metal observation tower. Take the stairs to take in breathtaking panoramic views of Mt. Greylock, The Catskills, and Vermont’s Green Mountains. 

 

Sunset Rock Trail at Hoosac Range (North Adams) – Part of the Hoosac Range, this short 1.6 mile round-trip hike has a small steep portion, but a big pay off, with views to the west and north, overlooking North Adams. The BNRC parking lot is on the right, immediately after the Wigwam Cabins.

Summit Trail to Pony Mountain at Chapel Brook (Ashfield) – Summit Trail is a steeper 0.5 mile hike that leads around the western side of Pony Mountain to its top, where incredible panoramic views of the foothills of the changing Berkshires can be taken in.

 

Mahanna Cobble (Lenox/Pittsfield) – The northern summit of Yokun Ridge, this BNRC property extends into Bousquet Ski area. Parking is available at Bousquet (except for winter!). Take the far left slope onto the Drifter Ski Trail (make sure to turn around and check out the view!) and climb upwards to the highest chair lift (so many VIEWS!). Continue past the radio tower to a 1/4 mile trek through the woods. The summit opens up to a stone bench and MORE glorious views.

Basin Pond (Lee) – From the trailhead, the 2.5 mile route takes hikers on an easy ramble alongside boulders and stone stairs. The trail splits but converges again at a short spur that leads to the ruins of a twice-flooded dam. Either trail you choose doesn’t require much exertion. A lookout platform offers a terrific spot to view the ruins, the beaver pond, and all the vibrant colors of autumn.

Drury Trail at Drury Preserve (Sheffield) – Approximately a 3-mile walk, up and back, through lowland forests, and a variety of wet and dry communities. There are boardwalks over the wettest areas, and at the end of the trail, take in a striking view across Schenob Brook of Taconic Range’s Mount Race.

Dry Hill (New Marlborough) – Owned by the Trustees, this is a 2-mile out-and-back trail of mostly flat and easy walking.The oak forest that covers the upper ridge is awash with color during the autumn months. The last few minutes to the summit are a bit steep and rocky, but well-worth it for the unmatched fall views.


What adventures are we missing out on?

Do you have favorite foliage hikes or fall spots in the Berkshires?

Share in the comments below!

Tag @berkshirefamilyhikes in your fall foliage pics on Instagram and Facebook! Use the hashtags #berkshirefamilyhikes and #fallinlovewiththeberkshires

Safe Covid-19 Hiking Practices 

  • Visit parks and recreation areas that are close to your home.
  • Don’t visit crowded parks or campgrounds.
  • Carefully consider use of playgrounds, and help children follow guidelines.
  • Stay at least 6 feet away from people you don’t live with.
  • Wear a mask.
  • Wash your hands often and don’t share items with people you don’t live with.
A Dream Forgotten – Getty Memorial Conservation Area

A Dream Forgotten – Getty Memorial Conservation Area

Where We Went: Getty Memorial Conservation Area & adjacent trails, in between Nessacus Middle School & Wahconah High School in Dalton, MA

When We Went: Late May & August (school WAS out!)

Difficulty (Boots 1 – 10): 0.5 Boot / 1 Boot

Trail Length: Undetermined / shortest trail to conservation area is about 200 yards

How Long it Took Us: 2 hours

Overview: Alright. Ready? I’m gonna attempt to break this area down and also serve it the long-forgotten justice it deserves, SO – bear with me. If you’re looking for just the basics of this hike, skip down to What We Dug. Otherwise strap in, ’cause off we go…

In 1972, Raynard Getty, a high school science teacher, began developing 50 acres behind the Dalton school into a conservation area. In conjunction with classroom studies, Wahconah students, alongside Getty, worked on extensive plans to create a wildlife refuge, 4 1/2 miles of nature trails, two tree farms, a large fieldstone fireplace, and a small pond. A teacher truly ahead of his time,

Getty described his vision as, “a quiet area where students can go to think and meditate.

Students constructed a 22-foot bridge over a drainage ditch that same year. In 1975, the U.S. Navy “Seabees” helped the students dig a 1/2 acre farm pond. Maple, chestnut and other trees were planted with intention of fostering a tree nursery. It’s aim was two-fold, to provide replacement trees to the town and give young people the knowledge of tree care from the ground up. Seven large fieldstone planters were built by students and filled with numerous flower varietals they had been consciously raising indoors. Brush was cut and cleared (teenagers with chainsaws!), benches built, and large stones were relocated to create stone walls. All of this structured towards specific goals, but with kids being the integral part of the program.

Then in 1981, at the age of 52, Getty passed suddenly of a heart attack. He may have only succeeded in developing 20 of the 50 acres planned, but his gifts to the community far exceeded that. What he left behind were inspired students who had learned everlasting skills of perseverance, consideration, and stewardship to take with them into adulthood. An enormous feat for a man with just a humble plan. Later that year, various science classes conceptualized and created a nature trail in Getty’s honor. Together they located, identified, and described 21 different points of interest within the conservation area and trail. Trail markers were built and erected and informational pamphlets were made and distributed at the area’s memorial.

It’s been said that, to hear is to forget, to see is to remember and to do is to understand.

Mr. Getty organized and bonded with these students to give them a chance to work outdoors and learn first-hand about caring for the environment. He helped them build something of value, transforming and nurturing the woods surrounding their school.

With the Earth’s current environmental future in a precarious balance, let this serve as a reminder to how impactful a mentor can be.

Over the years, much of this area has not seen the level of care intended for it, nor have steps been taken to complete Raynard Getty’s vision. The pond is overgrown, trails are no longer marked, and any points of interest have been reclaimed by the woods. Most recently, local Eagle Scouts cleaned up the main conservation area. Led by high school senior Jack Minella, they also built new benches and additional raised beds. With the new school year just beginning, perhaps new efforts will be put forth to rejuvenate such a unique and worthy space. Maybe all it’s waiting for is that one special voice to spark change.

With all of this (so much this), being said, do not expect one of those map at the trailhead, blazes on every 8th tree, kinda hike. For this one, you’ll have to use a tiny amount of self-navigation but your efforts will be well rewarded. The main trails here are wide, well-trodden, and generally all circle back around to one school or the other. But be aware that they are not marked! Even if you can’t find your way out of a paper bag, the conservation area alone is worth the trip. Pull up a bench, take in your surroundings, and meditate for a minute on what one man’s fleeting influence can do for the world.

What We Dug: We drove to Nessacus Middle School and chose to drive around to the back of the school, past the basketball and tennis courts, where a few parking spaces face a large wooded area. (School was out for the summer). Once out of the car, you’ll see a large open space containing a drainage dug-out to the right of a utility garage. We spent some sunshine-y minutes rolling down this grassy hill and picking dandelions. After getting good and dizzy (1 roll was all it took, holy motion sickness batman!), we started off down a familiar ramble. Most Daltonians know of the path I’m referencing, a shortcut taken by many on Friday night during football season. For others, if you stand in the field with your back to the school, the trail I speak of will be facing you and difficult to miss.

Following a (very) short trek, the trees will begin to open up and you will find yourself in the wide open green of the Getty Memorial Conservation Area. If you continue straight over a small wooden bridge you will see Wahconah High School and it’s football field directly in front of you.

Now you’re probably thinking, “that’s it?” “Less than a 2 minute walk?” WAIT. There’s more. We spent some time exploring the conservation area. At that time it hadn’t undergone any maintenance and the pond bridge and other parts were overgrown. After a snack (BECAUSE ALWAYS), we took a left onto a wide trail. There are no markers or blazes on these paths and many offshoots. However, it would be VERY (not impossible, but…) difficult to get lost. With the two school bookending this forested space and the Housatonic river cutting through to the east, regaining your bearings is fairly simple. Most of the trails spit you out at the backside of one school or the other.

In recent years, the trails have seen the addition of outdoor exercise equipment distributed within the woods. Pull up bars, parallel bars, and balance beams became instant jungle gyms for the kids. Searching for the next one kept attentions from flagging. Winding around the side of the schools is the East Branch of the Housatonic river. Through a dense and impressive pine grove you can (carefully) climb down a small embankment to the gravelly-edge of the river. Here we skipped stones and examined abandoned stonefly nymph exoskeletons that they leave stuck to sunny rocks. Heading back to the trails and we found ourselves back at Nessacus, at the edge of an expansive soccer field. To round out a low-impact adventure, the kids chose to run around the basketball courts. Far be it from me to refuse an opportunity to release some MORE energy (like, how. is. it. possible.)

What We Could Do Without: The lack of defined and marked trails make this less accessible for anyone who may be unfamiliar with the area. It would be so wonderful to see Raynard Getty’s full vision brought to life.

Keep Your Eyes Peeled For: Hemlock, white pine, milkweed, monarchs, crayfish, stonefly nymphs

Must Know Before You Go’s: There are no trailheads. No markers or blazes. Be aware that barring summer months, both schools are in session. Wahconah High School is currently undergoing construction. Parking there is not recommended. Due to Covid-19, re-opening of these schools is still unclear, but use sound judgement. Summer and weekends are the best time to explore these trails. No facilities.

Directions: 35 Fox Rd, Dalton, MA 01226 (Nessacus Middle School)

150 Old Windsor Rd, Dalton, MA 01226 (Wahconah High School) Be advised that Wahconah High School is currently undergoing massive construction and parking there is not recommended.

*Entrances to all trails are towards the back ends of both schools.

Scroll through for more photos of our Gettys Conservation Area Adventure!

Community FB page

Top Hikes for Accessibility in the Berkshires

Top Hikes for Accessibility in the Berkshires

Being outdoors and in nature is beneficial in so many ways. From healing health benefits, building community connections, education, or just having some fun, the outdoors is a gift. And that gift should be available to everyone. But for many people with disabilities, mobility limitations, and even parents with strollers, outdoor recreation can feel preclusive because the expectations are unknown. The thought of getting outdoors raises worries – What is the trail like? Is it paved or gravel? Is there service in case of an emergency? The Berkshires is home to so many incredible outdoors spaces. But how many of them are accessible to all?

This list is in no way comprehensive. It lacks in covering many pertinent details that we have limited to no insight on. It is intended as a starting point for disabled people, friends and family of disabled people, parents of young children, and elderly people. It is up to us to create inclusivity for all – in nature and beyond. We’d love to hear what we can do better and welcome shared experiences and challenges when getting outdoors. Email us at berkshirefamilyhikes@gmail.com or join us in the Berkshire Family Hikes Community Group.

A wonderful resource is Everyone Outdoors, a community resource blog and recreation connection for people with disabilities and their families, friends, and supporters who enjoy the outdoors, are looking for new recreation possibilities, or want to share their experience and expertise with others.


  • Ashuwillticook Rail TrailThe only thing intimidating here is the name! Ash-u-will-ti-cook Rail Trail is an old railroad track converted into a 10-foot wide paved trail. The trail runs 12.7 miles through the towns of Cheshire, Lanesborough and Adams. Various access points and parking lots make for multiple entrances into the outdoors. Cheshire Reservoir, and the Hoosic River offer outstanding views of the scenery and wildlife. We’ve hiked it in the rain and lucked out seeing a snapping turtle!
  • Pittsfield State Forest – Located off of Berry Pond Circuit Road, the paved Tranquility Trail is a 0.6 mile loop. It features a peaceful forest setting and is good for all skill levels. The trail is primarily used for hiking, walking, and nature trips.
  • Old Mill Trail One of our favorites, this unpaved gravel trail is great for beginning hikers, families with young children, strollers, and some mobility limitaions. The first 0.7 miles is an accessible trail that follows the Housatonic river north. The trail continues for another 0.8 miles but is not considered accessible. There is a bridge crossing in the beginning of the trail.
  • Greylock Glen – The Glen Meadow Loop at Greylock Glen is a flat, gravel covered 10-foot wide loop which winds its way around the main part of the Glen for 1.6 miles. According to information from EveryoneOutdoors, “this trail is best accessed by driving past the parking lot on Gould Road (from this access point there is a climb to reach the loop trail) and continue driving uphill around a curve, past the small parking lot for Peck’s Falls on the left, to a second parking area for the loop trail on the right. It’s roadside parking on a hill, so it is not considered accessible, but for some it might be worth it because if you can handle the parking angle, it is possible to pass through the roadside boulders (45″ width” passage) to enter the loop trail area.” The views of Mount Greylock and the surrounding hills are unbeatable as well as the huge willow tree.
  • Mary Flynn TrailThis trail in Stockbridge begins with a 100-foot long boardwalk before continuing on a flat, gravel trail through woodlands of birch, pine, and cottonwood. There are two wooden bridge crossings. At the far end, the trail curves, narrows, and loops back alongside the Housatonic river, crossing two small bridges before rejoining the main gravel trail.
  • Parson’s Marsh – The first 600-feet of Parson’s Marsh in Lenox is crushed stone. Gentle slopes lead you to an accessible picnic table and bench off a short spur near the pond. According to EveryoneOutdoors, “the last section of the trail is 900-feet of curbed boardwalk, with a 41” passable width and grades not exceeding 7%.” The trail ends at an observation platform with views from the edges of the marsh.
  • Taconic Farm Estate/Tor CourtOnce a mansion home to Warren Salisbury and the site of a manhunt that ended with John D. Rockefeller’s subpoena, this verdant hilltop is now owned by Hillcrest Hospital. Drive around to the back of the hospital where a large parking area gives easy access to a paved path among the trees. The gazebo is not accessible (stairs only) but is a beautiful feature. The paved trail is not very long and you will have to back track in order to return to the parking lot, but the views of Onota Lake and the surrounding woodlands make this a low impact way to get outdoors. 165 Tor Court, Pittsfield, MA 01201 
  • DAR State Forest – This easily navigable trail in Goshen is dirt-packed and shaded, with tranquil views of the water. The trail is 1.1 miles, ending on a paved road. If you are looking to fish, there are three accessible fishing spots along the trail with sturdy metal docks out to Upper Highland Lake. If you will be parking at the DAR State Forest with a wheelchair, don’t use the public beach parking lot (the first lot upon entry). Continue following the driveway until you reach another paved lot on the left, giving you direct access to the trail without a trip around the beach. 
  • Savoy Mountain State Forest – The accessible trail starts from the main parking lot. Pass the closed restrooms you’ll find a paved path through the main area of the park. A left will take you to a picnic area and an accessible path to the beach. A right will take you to the trailhead sign for the accessible woodland North Pond Loop trail. Old stone fireplaces are visible along the trail. At the junction, bear left and loop around back to the paved road, returning to the parking lot via the paved road.
  • Pleasant Valley Wildlife SanctuaryThe All Persons Trail at Pleasant Valley is 1,700 feet in length roundtrip from the main office to Pike’s Pond. It is fully accessible and follows a wide path with a smooth, packed surface before leading to a boardwalk with views over Pike’s Pond. The trail is mostly level with a few moderate slopes. Narrated stops along the way are marked by signs both in print and in Braille. Prior to Covid-19 and the closure of facilities, you could pick up trail information including a guide in printed or Braille format, and a printed or tactile trail map, as well as other adaptive items, including hands-free binoculars (on a tripod), audio players, a large print version of the “Peterson Field Guide to Eastern Birds,” and a walking cane with a small seat. Currently the offices and other facilities are closed. 
  • Mount Greylock State Forest – Sperry Road to Stony Ledge Trail is a 1.9 mile out and back gravel road. Sperry Road is a well-maintained dirt road that takes you to the scenic lookout point offering beautiful views of Mt. Greylock and other mountains. Facilities and campgrounds at Mount Greylock State Forest are closed due to Covid-19. 
  • John Lambert Nature TrailTucked behind the Ralph Hoffmann Environmental Science and Sustainable Energy Center at Berkshire Community College, the John Lambert Nature Trail wanders through open fields. The meadow portion is well-mown but does have some slight grades and curves that make certain types of accessibility more difficult without assistance. The entrance behind the Hoffmann Center is NOT wheelchair accessible. There is a partially paved entry point just across from Melville Hall. This entry has a slope that may effect accessibility. This route will take you to trailhead behind the Hoffmann Center, so it may be necessary to turn around and retrace your route to get back to the parking lot. 1350 West Street, Pittsfield, MA 01201

Non-Accessible Entrance

Non-Accessible Entrance

More Accessible Entrance

More Accessible Entrance

 

 


As more places continue to open, we all must do our part to follow new rules about how to responsibly return to the trails. Though your chance of getting COVID-19 in the outdoors is low, you still need to bring a mask, take social distancing precautions, and wash or sanitize your hands more frequently. If you are feeling sick, please stay home.

Gold Diggers & Cave Crawlers – Widow White Reserve

Gold Diggers & Cave Crawlers – Widow White Reserve

                                             
Where We Went : Widow White Reservation – Lanesboro, MA

When We Went : Early April & again in Late May

Difficulty (Boots 1 – 10) : Steep in places, but mostly easy walking on wide wood roads 2.5 Boots

Trail Length : NO MARKED TRAILS, wood roads are generally clear enough to follow

How Long it Took Us : 2.5 Hours

  Overview : A revenge rock and a cave – two things you wouldn’t be expecting    to see on a walk in the woods, but that’s exactly what you’ll find at Widow White Reserve in Lanesboro, MA.

What’s a revenge rock, you ask? Well, it’s apparently how you express yourself when you’re an scorned windbag with some mean chiselin’ skills. Meet Captain John Brown. Born in Cheshire, Brown was a hot-headed stonemason. He was leader of the Cheshire militia in the 19th century. That is until he disbanded said militia because at a meeting he wasn’t called on first to speak…just to give you an idea of what we’re dealing with here, Petty with a capital P.

Enter Susan Baker. This gal was the richest woman in Lanesboro for many years. She owned Baker’s Tavern on Greylock Road, a popular stage coach inn frequented by travelers over Brodie Mt. highway. Susan also owned a multitude of marble and wood rich acres on Potter Mountain (location of Widow White). At 81 when 69 year old John Brown came ‘a courtin’, old Sue probably couldn’t bring the hammer down fast enough! I mean, the man had 10 children for pete’s sake – if he’d been more transparent he’d be cellophane. Now I ain’t sayin’ he’s a golddigger. But yes. Yes I am.

Johnny had his pride bulldozed and instead of shooting his shot and taking it on the chin, Mr. Brown decided to go for the King’s crown of pettiness – packing his trusty chisel and a whole bag full of bruised ego, he walked from Cheshire to Lanesboro, to the edge of Susan’s property and on an errant boulder chipped away this message:

“Capt. John M. Brown, Born at Stafford’s Hill, Cheshire, Mass., Oct. the 1st, 1808; inscribed upon this rock, April the 2d, 1878. May God bless Susan and all her barren land and when she gets to heaven, I hope she will find a man.”

Whewww, SNAP! Can you taste the bitterness…

john brown boulder

Brown’s Boulder in the 1970’s (Berkshire Eagle)

john brown boudler

Brown’s Boulder Present Day (BFH)

Four years later, Susan died, aged 85 and completely unbothered (my assumption).

But do you know who wasn’t?

YUP.  Old John “dog with a bone” Brown, that’s who. He wrote a follow-up to his original inscription. Although he never took the opportunity to gouge it into stone for all eternity, his family saved the verse and I offer it to you now:

“Now Susan has gone to her long home. It makes me sad, it makes me mourn. What a mighty shock, when I view this rock, to know that I am still alone.”

Good call, Sue – safe to say you dodged a bullet on that one.

(North Adams Transcript)

On the uphill path to Brown’s Boulder, you’ll pass by Baker’s Quarry Cave near a stand of white birches. Named for village belle Susan Baker, this modest hole in the ground doesn’t look like much. But for a spelunker like Clay Perry, caves like this were an underground wonderland. Clay Perry was an author and journalist, a transplant from Wisconsin who moved to the Berkshires in 1912.

An avid cave crawler, Clay explored over 200 Northeastern caves, wrote three books on the subject, (“Underground New England” “New England’s Buried Treasure” and “Underground Empire”) and even coined the term “spelunker!” (Note : If anyone has a copy of one of these books, please contact me! For armchair spelunking only.) Baker’s Quarry was Perry’s favorite cave and he led many conventions here for other cave-crawling enthusiasts. The cave stretches 150-feet and has been visited since 1847 if the inscriptions carved into the walls are any indication. The cave entrance was likely discovered when marble quarrying was done on this property, remnants of which you can also find. The brook nearby is aptly named Disappearing Brook, which disappears and reappears six times over a mile stretch.

I would NOT recommend going inside the cave. Cave-crawlers and spelunkers are serious hobbyists and professionals who know the risks and the equipment needed. If you’re curious about what’s inside,  check out this video Brad Herder took of the inside in 2013.

What We Dug : Would you believe that we didn’t see Brown’s Boulder or Baker Quarry Cave until our return trip? It’s true. We were on the hunt for both but somehow kept circling around the very things we were searching for. During that first trip the trees were bare and the glacier erratics stole the show. Everywhere we turned there was a bigger boulder than the last, another rock to climb, another outcrop to conquer. When we returned, we were on a mission. It was one we accomplished and truly enjoyed – who doesn’t love a good mystery hunt – but cave or no cave, Widow White is such a cool place to explore.

What We Could Do Without : The first time we visited Widow White, the trees were still budded and the forest floor was mostly clear, save for a few early spring ephemerals. What a difference a month makes! Widow White doesn’t have maintained trails but the wood roads make for easy walking.

Widow White in April

Widow White in May

Still, when we returned in May, it was full bore glorious spring and we found that the wood roads can get a bit lost underneath the new growth. Beyond being absolutely stunningly green everywhere you turn, it can be easy to get turned around, so please you caution, good judgment and a map.

Keep Your Eyes Peeled For: Captain John Brown Stone, Baker’s Quarry Cave, the remnants of a mill dam on Secum Brook, small quarries and an extensive stone wall, spring ephemerals like trillium and hepatica, jack-in-the-pulpit, birch groves, snails

Must Know Before You Go’s: Hunting is allowed in-season. Wear reflective clothing and take precautions. No Facilities. No Marked Trails. Silver Street is a dirt road and the parking lot is unpaved.

Directions: Widow White Reserve is accessed from an unimproved trailhead off of Silver Street.
From the center of Lanesborough: north on Route 7 to a left on Bailey Road. Follow Bailey Road north for 1.0 miles to a left on Silver Street. Follow Silver Street for 0.4 miles to the trailhead, which is at the top of a short steep hill, on a very sharp left-hand curve. Trailhead is on the right at the curve. GPS: 42.5472, -73.2520 (trailhead parking)

Website : https://www.bnrc.org/wp-content/uploads/2016/10/WidowWhite_TrailMap.pdf

Resources : https://mysterious-hills.blogspot.com/2010/03/recalling-perry-explorer-of-berkshire.html

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=42Ate6oC-Rc

Scroll Through for More Pictures of our Widow White Adventure!

This One’s For Beginners – Old Mill Trail

This One’s For Beginners – Old Mill Trail

Where We Went : Old Mill Trail, Hinsdale MA

When We Went : July 2019

Difficulty (Boots 1 – 10) : 1 Boot

Trail Length : 1.5 miles, up and back (about 1 hour) First 0.7 miles is Accessible Trail, the remainder crosses Route 8 and follows the Housatonic River downstream. We only hiked the Accessible Trail.

How Long it Took Us : 1 ½ hours (30 minutes spent crying)

Overview : This newly opened trail was tailor-made for anyone looking to cut their hiking teeth or has an interest in history. Nature and 19th century textile mills collide in an easily accessible trail at the edge of the Housatonic River. The Housatonic Valley Association installed an interpretive trail that highlights both the natural and mill history of the area. Currently, in the capable hands of Berkshire Natural Resources Council, this proves you don’t need to travel too far to immerse yourself in the beauty of nature.

What We Dug : Be sure to grab an interpretive guide and map at the trailhead (or plan ahead and download the app), so you can follow along with the numbered posts along the trail. We used these posts as “Power Up” stations on the return trip. Tag one and energy boost activated! Included in the tour is the remnants of a 1938 Oldsmobile slowly becoming part of the natural landscape. We had fun learning what a “penstock” is (technical term for a pipe that delivers water to a mill), and walking in the trench that housed such a huge piece of equipment. We tried to imagine we were part of the Housatonic rushing down the “pipe” while we made our way down the trench. It was really fascinating to follow along and learn about the history of the areas mill industry. We were also able to get close to the water for a bit and used the bridges as an opportunity to play Poohsticks

What We Could Do Without : Woof. We had the mother of all meltdowns here. Not sure what it was but we barely got 10 feet into the woods and both kids were crying.

Keep Your Eyes Peeled For : cottonwood, ash, willow, silver maple, hemlock, Asian honeysuckle, gray-stemmed dogwood, hobble bush, Japanese barberry, common buckthorn, song sparrow, hawk, vole, muskrat, barred owl, red squirrel, chickadees, egret, pileated woodpecker, brown creeper

Must Know Before You Go’s : Free. No onsite facilities. Partridgefield’s General Store is across the street and is a wonderful place for lunch or ice cream (if your kids behaved better than mine).

Directions : From the center of Dalton: take Route 8 south to the Hinsdale line. From the town line, continue 4/10 miles to a left on Old Dalton Road. The trailhead parking is the first, immediate left. GPS: 42.4480, -73.1305

Website : www.bnrc.org

Resources : Download their app by searching “BNRC trails”

Faded Footsteps – Arrowhead Nature Trail

Faded Footsteps – Arrowhead Nature Trail

Where We Went : Arrowhead Nature Trail, Pittsfield/Lenox MA

When We Went : Mid-April

Difficulty (Boots 1 – 10) : 1.5 Boots

Trail Length : 0.5 Mile

How Long it Took Us : 1 Hour

Overview :

“Leviathan, white whale – Call me Ishmael.

Sailor, novelist – A failure until posthumous.

Made a home here in the Berks, Hawthorne put up with my quirks.

Hittin’ up old Greylock, Catch me out at Balance Rock.

Wrote Billy Budd & Bartelby, Even messed around with poetry.

When I say Moby, you say Dick –

MOBY…DICK!

 MOBY…DICK!”

Although Melville wasn’t born in the Berkshires, his Uncle Thomas Melvill’s Pittsfield estate offered a much needed refuge and retreat from the drudgery that he faced in Albany at 13 years old. Herman’s father had died in 1832, leaving his family almost irreparably in debt.

At age 12, Herman found himself employed as a clerk at the New York State Bank, working long hours, six days a week for the next three years.

Excuse me? Can you imagine being 12 years old and suiting up for your job at the bank six days a week?! What…

Reflecting on his childhood in the semi-autobiographical novel ,Redburn: His First Voyage,, Melville wrote:

“I must not think of those delightful days, before my father became bankrupt, and dies, and we removed from the city; for when I think of those days, something rises up in my throat and almost strangles me.”

There’s no doubt that that first Berkshire summer of 1832 – Melville’s first break from the confining and monotonous tedium at the bank – offered him so much more than just a breath of fresh air. We can only imagine the profound impact that those sylvan summer days had on Melville’s soul.

So in 1850, when the wealthy Morewood’s moved to purchase his Uncle’s estate (renaming it Broadhall and the current home of the Pittsfield Country Club) and the surrounding 300 acres for $6500, it seems logical to think that Herman would curse himself for not having the necessary funds to buy it first. It likely stirred a deep-rooted feeling inside, a gnawing desire to break the mold of his destitute father and secure the very thing that impassioned him.

When an adjacent Pittsfield property went up for sale that same year, also priced $6500 (1/2 the acreage), Melville could hardly miss a second opportunity to reclaim his gossamer glimmers of childhood and prove himself as a man. Borrowing heavily from his father-in-law and incurring a mortgage, Herman was able to purchase Arrowhead in a harried fit of nostalgia.

There have been other theories raised to explain Melville’s moment of impulsivity. Michael Sheldon, author of “Melville In Love”

Subject to even more scrutiny is his relationship with Nathaniel Hawthorne.

Some scholars propose that this meeting sparked the impetuous purchase of the Berkshire farm, an attempt by Melville to remain close to his literary guru.

Writings of this odd pair have been scrutinized for decades, Melville the overzealous and infatuated admirer (a 19th-century “Stan” if you will.)

We can never know the true motives behind anyone’s personal choices, past or present, and too often historical conjecture misses the heart of human nature.

When I walked the trail behind Arrowhead I was walking in Herman Melville’s footsteps, maybe even Sarah Morewood’s and Hawthorne’s too. But try as I might to put myself in each of their shoes, my takeaway can only be personal. And there is one thing I know for certain. Whether you grew up in the Berkshires, like me, or you’ve been a visitor to these rolling hills and dales, you know all too well the mark they leave on you. And for any writer, is there ever a greater muse than the one you’re living in?

What We Dug :

While this makes an unparalleled accompaniment for the adult explorer, for the shorter set, try out the BHS Stanwix’s Scavenger Hunt! With two different versions, kids can feel challenged and engaged during their easy trek through the woods.

We printed off both versions and M & V each did one, then swapped and did each others!

The trail itself is easy to follow and equally easy walking. From the parking lot we crossed to the mown meadow path and upwards into the woods. Following the white arrowhead signs serving as trail markers, we searched high and low for the items on Stanwix’s Lists and found much more than we bargained for. A cache of wild ramps was hiding just off the path and our resident eagle eye spotted scarlet elf cups under a stand of birches. You can imagine young Malcolm (Melville’s eldest son) and little Stanwix running amok through the woods and catch a glimpse of the former Morewood property at the border of the neighboring golf course. Bring binoculars for meadow-side bird watching and don’t forget to look for the whale!

What We Could Do Without : Bittersweet strikes again…If you hike often, it’s likely you’ll see this serpentine strangler. Sometimes we see it just taking hold, while other places we see the devastation that occurs as a result of this merciless invasive. Melville’s woods are in the unforgiving grip of Celastrus orbiculatus. It hasn’t quite reached the levels that we saw at Longcope Park in Lee.  

Keep Your Eyes Peeled For : Purple Trillium, Trout Lily, Wild Ramps, Crinkleroot, Scarlet Elf Cup, Wood Anemone, Foamflower, Jack-in-the-Pulpit, Blue Cohosh, False Solomon’s Seal, Garlic Mustard, Springtails, Wood Thrush, Oven Bird, Gray Catbird, Downy Woodpecker, Goldfinch, Blue Jay, American Redstart, Common Buckthorn, Beech, Black Cherry, Hemlock, Hop Hornbeam, Red Oak, Sugar Maple, White Ash, White Birch, White Pine

Must Know Before You Go’s : Parking is in the rear behind the Red Barn. No Facilities. Arrowhead is currently closed for tours. No Hunting, No Mountain Bikes or Motorized Vehicles, Leashed Dogs OK

FOR HIKING GUIDELINES DURING COVID-19 PLEASE REFER TO THIS HELPFUL LINK FOR MORE INFORMATION – HELP KEEP OTHERS SAFE & FLATTEN THE CURVE!

Directions : 780 Holmes Road Pittsfield, MA.

From the Massachusetts Turnpike(I-90), take Exit 2 (Lee). Follow Route 20 West for 8.5 miles; it will merge with Route 7 North. Turn right onto Holmes Road at the traffic light. Arrowhead is 1.5 miles ahead on the left.

From points north: Route 20, Route 9, and Route 7 all lead to Pittsfield and intersect with major interstates. Consult your own maps for reaching Route 7 from where you are. Once you are on Route 7 South, follow Route 7 South until you cross the Pittsfield-Lenox town line. Turn left onto Holmes Road at the traffic light. Arrowhead is 1.5 miles ahead on the left.

Website : www.mobydick.org

Resources : https://berkshirehistory.org/visit-us/house-landscape-tours/

Power of Place by Marianna Poutasse

Scroll through for more pictures of our Arrowhead adventure!

Faded Footsteps – Arrowhead Nature Trail

Sed ut perspiciatis unde omnis iste natus error sit voluptatem accusantium doloremque laudantium, totam rem aperiam, eaque ipsa quae ab illo inventore veritatis et quasi architecto beatae vitae dicta sunt explicabo.

Nemo enim ipsam voluptatem quia voluptas sit aspernatur aut odit aut fugit, sed quia consequuntur magni dolores eos qui ratione voluptatem sequi nesciunt. Neque porro quisquam est, qui dolorem ipsum quia dolor sit amet, consectetur, adipisci velit, sed quia non numquam eius modi tempora incidunt ut labore et dolore magnam aliquam quaerat voluptatem.

Ut enim ad minima veniam, quis nostrum exercitationem ullam corporis suscipit laboriosam, nisi ut aliquid ex ea commodi consequatur? Quis autem vel eum iure reprehenderit qui in ea voluptate velit esse quam nihi.

Nemo enim ipsam voluptatem quia voluptas sit aspernatur aut odit aut fugit, sed quia consequuntur magni dolores eos qui ratione.

Sed ut perspiciatis unde omnis iste natus error sit voluptatem accusantium doloremque laudantium, totam rem aperiam, eaque ipsa quae ab illo inventore veritatis et quasi architecto beatae vitae dicta sunt explicabo.

Dolor Amet

Sed ut perspiciatis unde omnis iste natus error sit voluptatem.

Nemo enim ipsam voluptatem quia voluptas sit aspernatur aut odit aut fugit, sed quia consequuntur magni dolores eos qui ratione voluptatem sequi nesciunt.

Ut enim ad minima veniam, quis nostrum exercitationem ullam corporis suscipit laboriosam, nisi ut aliquid ex ea commodi consequatur? Quis autem vel eum iure reprehenderit qui in ea voluptate velit esse quam nihil molestiae consequatur, vel illum.

Sed ut perspiciatis unde omnis iste natus error sit voluptatem accusantium doloremque laudantium, totam rem aperiam, eaque ipsa quae ab illo inventore veritatis et quasi architecto beatae vitae dicta sunt explicabo.

Nemo enim ipsam voluptatem quia voluptas sit aspernatur aut odit aut fugit, sed quia consequuntur magni dolores eos qui ratione voluptatem sequi nesciunt. Neque porro quisquam est, qui dolorem ipsum quia dolor sit amet, consectetur, adipisci velit, sed quia non numquam eius modi tempora incidunt ut labore et dolore magnam.

Join

Work With Me