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.

Cattle Calls & Waterfalls – Glendale Falls

Cattle Calls & Waterfalls – Glendale Falls

Where We Went : Glendale Falls, Middlefield MA

When We Went : Mid-March

Difficulty (Boots 1 – 10) : 3 Boots

Trail Length : 1/4 Mile to the base of the Falls

How Long it Took Us : 1.5 Hours

Overview : For a town with a population of less than 600, Middlefield sure has a lot of history.

The first soldier to ever receive a Purple Heart Medal of honor, Elijah Churchill, a Revolutionary War vet, lived and is buried here.

Martha Stewart laid stakes on Clark Wright Road, humbly purchasing an ,1800’s schoolhouse on 50 acres. Living in this modest homestead without a bathroom or running water from 1966 to mid-1980’s, Martha credits this adventure as the catalyst behind her foray into serious DIY like plumbing, electrical work and contracting as well as some of the happiest times of her life.

The main room was very pretty. It was wainscoted, with a soft, beautiful pine floor. The house had no bathroom, no electricity. We bought it for $15,000, and it was a dream for us. That’s where I really learned how to do everything: electricity, plumbing, gardening, painting, spackling. I tried to build cabinet work in the kitchen and found out I am not a very good carpenter. I’m much better at plumbing.

Click here to read a journal entry where she reflects on fond Christmas memories.

Also located on Clark Wright Road, is Glendale Falls. Previously the site of 18th-century’s Glendale Farm, Revolutionary War veteran Captain Nathaniel Wright, settled on its 400-acres and began farming in 1799. It would remain in the Wright family for over a century.

 

Clark Brainard Wright, it’s last “wrightful” owner, would operate the farm from 1842 and into the 1920’s. It was under his guidance that the farm became well-known for it’s herd of shorthorn steers.

Most locals have heard of or attended the Middlefield Fair that began in 1855 and still runs over 3 days in August over 165 years later. It was here that this Durham cattle breed won top marks.

Clark Brainard Wright’s “Glendale Duke” was a magnificent specimen that would win top prizes at the Annual Cattle Show of the Highland Agricultural Society (later shortened to the Middlefield Fair). Middlefield was recognized by the Massachusetts Agricultural College (now Umass Amherst) as a leading breeding area:

The show of oxen and steers was the best I have ever seen at a county show, not for the number and perfection of training, but for the size and early maturity; almost every yoke especially of steers, was remarkable.

 

The cow fair was so legendary that a song was written about it. A lively two-step and male quartet was written by Philip Mack Smith in 1912. It was played at the fair and captures the original essence of the Middlefield Fair as the local folks in attendance must have felt.

 

The farm and falls were purchased by farmer and conservationist Richard Waite. Nicknamed “Waite’s Falls” during his time there, ,he ,allowed public swimming at the falls, until lewd lawbreakers ruined a good thing. Waite sold the falls and surrounding 60 acres shortly thereafter to the

What We Dug : ,Waterfalls are generally a hit with kids (and grown-ups) and Glendale does not disappoint. This is one of the highest, longest, and most powerful waterfalls in the state of Massachusetts, plunging more than 150 feet. Part of the Westfield River, it’s a rare naturally occurring Class III whitewater run. (For a bit of reference, there are a total of 5 classes in rafting).

At the top of the falls there are some wide, level spaces where you can get a good look at the water hurtling downhill. You can stand at the edge and imagine yourself on a raft with ,four foot ,w,aves shooting up ,,on all sides while the boat careens down the narrow passages.

A short trail leads to the bottom of the falls. The various stairs cut into the side of the trail provide additional tactile interest (i.e. lots of climbing) but please be cautious! There are steep areas that can make for tricky stepping.

It’s always nice to have a “final destination” when you’re out with kids. Having an endgame gives them a mental checkpoint and can be a source of encouragement when spirits start to flag. The bottom of the waterfall is a quick trip from the top but the payoff is spectacular. We spent some time taking it all in before trekking back up the way we came. We finished our afternoon with a few lively games of “Pooh Sticks.”

What We Could Do Without :

This certainly can be a busy destination. Given that there is only one trail up and down the falls it makes “social distancing” or simply enjoying the area on your own next to impossible. If you’re looking for time alone in the woods, this is not the place. Also, if you are bringing along a spirited toddler, be aware that the trail makes it’s way down the side of the cascade. Not so close that there’s fear of toppling in, but for us it certainly was somewhere we had to keep eyes on our kids at all times, not a place to let them run free to roam.

Keep Your Eyes Peeled For : ,Remnants of an 18th-century grist mill on the north side of the waterfall, Hemlock, Birch, Beech, Maple, Hornbeam, Witch Hazel, Shadbush, Mountain Laurel, Painted Trillium, Hobblebush, Warblers

Must Know Before You Go’s : ,No facilities. Seasonal hunting is allowed. A Trustees permit is required. Mountain biking is not allowed. Dogs must be kept on leash at all times.

When enjoying these properties during the Health Crisis, The Trustees asks that visitors follow social distancing guidelines for the health and safety of all, and to help keep properties open in these challenging times:

  • Limit visits to open Trustees properties in your respective town or neighborhood;
  • Stay at least six feet from other visitors, including stepping aside on the trail to let others pass;
  • Please keep dogs leashed and away from other visitors at all times;
  • If a parking area is full, please come back at a less busy time.

Directions : From Pittsfield: Follow Rt. 8 South approx. 5 mi. Turn left onto Rt. 143 East. Follow for 8.1 mi. Turn right onto River Rd. (becomes East River Rd.) and follow for 5.6 mi. Turn right onto Clark Wright Rd. immediately after bridge and proceed 0.4 mi. to entrance and parking (7 cars) on right. Clark Wright Road Middlefield, MA  01243

GPS 42.349, -72.969

Website : www.thetrustees.org/glendalefalls

Resources :

THE MIDDLEFIELD FAIR: A Case Study of the Agricultural Fair in New England (Nineteenth Century)

https://marthamoments.blogspot.com/2015/12/25th-anniversary-countdown-to-christmas_18.html

Scroll through for more pictures of our Glendale Falls adventure!

20 Open-Air Spaces for Berkshire Families

With every aspect of our lives suddenly disrupted, nature and outdoor activities provide essential stability, stress-relief and distraction to the current crisis. Lucky for us, the Berkshires is bursting with open-air spaces.

With Spring on the horizon and increasing uncertainties ahead, there is no better time to get outside and let nature work it’s magic.

 

Here are 20 family-friendly hikes we’ve reviewed to jumpstart your adventures.


     

    1. Balance Rock State Park
    2. Canoe Meadows Wildlife Sanctuary
    3. Wahconah Falls State Park
    4. Old Mill Trail
    5. Steven’s Glen
    6. Getty Memorial Conservation Area
    7. Mountain Meadow
    8. Pleasant Valley Wildlife Sanctuary
    9. Natural Bridge State Park
    10. Greylock Glen Meadow
    11. Historic Becket Quarry
    12. Ashuwillticook Rail Trail
    13. Dorothy Frances Rice Wildlife Sanctuary
    14. Crane’s Pond
    15. Field Farm
    16. Longcope Park
    17. Road’s End Wildlife Sanctuary
    18. Thomas & Palmer Brook
    19. Bullard Woods
    20. Constitution Hill

    Handmade Nature Boards & Inserts available in our Etsy Shop!

    COVID-19 Hiking Best Practices

    • Check access before you go, many areas are closed during this time.
    • If you or anyone in your group is feeling sick, STAY HOME.
    • If parking areas are crowded, choose a different space to explore.
    • Give a wide berth to other hikers and allow for at least 6-feet for passing.
    • Practice Carry-In/Carry-Out & Leave No Trace rules. Trash receptacles should not be used.
    • Bathroom and office facilities will be closed to the public.

    First Day Hike – Trees & Transitions

    2020 rushed in and we kicked off the 1st day of the New Year with…what else?! A hike!

    Joined by my sister and her family, our group headed back to Glen Meadows for some bracing air and open sky. We got both in spades, along with a fresh perspective.

    Armed with a special scavenger hunt, the kids were motivated and ready to take on the trail. On the lookout for –

    • beaver activity
    • cattails
    • ski-lift remnants
    • black willow
    • staghorn sumac
    • birch grove

    they had their work cut out for them. Not only did they find all 6, but they hiked the whole trail. No small feat for 8 small feet!

    If you recall, we had previously visited (and reviewed!) Glen Meadow in full-bore Spring fever. Mid-May had us head over heels, soaking up the dramatic views and the blossoming landscape.

    Fast- forward 8-months : January. The skeletal flip-side to the beaming face of Spring.

    Now barren and bleached, we found the landscape had changed more than expected.

    Back in May, we gawked at the meadows immense black willow trees. Like IIvermorny’s own Whomping Willow, the largest’s limbs and leaves stretched crooked fingers towards Greylock. On our Winter return, the Whomper lay bowed and broken. The entire front portion of the tree had split away, most likely during a wind storm.

    Used historically for both for medicinal purposes and weaving, willow trees have symbolized both healing and flexibility. In the Spring, we had sat under those giant branches, refueling and breathing in the mountain views. It had calmed our energies.

    Although in Winter those branches were found rent and fractured, the willow now let us climb and explore.

    Black Willow’s Lesson : Take 5. Breathe. Be flexible – bend – and if it breaks, improvise.

    Within the paper birch grove, we found less profound change, but still an altered landscape.

    Birch is a cold-climate tree, hardy and adaptable. The grove was stripped, all it’s golden leaves long gone. Against the starkness of the snow, the paper birch trunks leapt out like icicles in a dull landscape. The steely, dark mountains loomed in shadow, creating a sharp, wintry vignette. Birch trees are one of the first to sprout on bare ground, providing protection for other species to grow and are often some of the first to bud after a forest fire.

    Birch trees symbolize new beginnings, regeneration, hope, and the promise of things to come. Winter can seem long and drawn out, with it’s stillness and dormancy reigning supreme. But life lurks just under the surface, biding its time; waiting for the lengthening of days and the returning warmth; to bust out and show it’s stuff. As the naturalist Edwin Way Teale said, ” The stillness, the seeming death of winter, is but an illusion. Life retreats and is triumphant again.”

    Paper Birch’s Lesson : Dream big. Lead with love. Take your time. Stay true to your roots and trust in the journey.

    Glen Meadows wasn’t better during our warm Spring visit, no more so than January’s Winter adventure overtook May’s. Much like the seasons we visited in, each offered us different opportunities for a unique perspective. When we stopped to be still in our present moment, the beauty of each vantage point was revealed. Revisiting natural environments throughout all four seasons can help to remind us to look outside of our stagnant views and embrace inevitable change.

    With a goal for 50 hikes in 2020 laid out on our horizon, the achievement is the easy part. The real challenge lies in the present moment. It’s easy to get caught up in a numbers game and checking off of boxes. Experiencing the here and now becomes the true test. Winter in its vast vacancy reminds us to keep it simple. The restrictive boundaries we set up for ourselves are currently borderless, blanketed in limitless snow. While the hills are naked and the blue sky is wide, seek clarity, not completion, in your aims and explorations.

    Scroll through for more pictures from our First Day Adventure!

    Click here for more info on our Nature Boards & Inserts

    Photo Credit for many of these photos goes to Kira Smith, a Berkshire artist, activist, and alchemistress. For more about her and her work : The Shire Witch and Smith and Spindle.

    Wolf Trees on a Wolf Moon – Road’s End Wildlife Sanctuary

     

     

     

    Where We Went : Mass Audubon Road’s End Wildlife Sanctuary / Worthington

     

    When We Went : January 10th

     

    Difficulty / Boots 1 – 10 : 2 Boots

     

     Trail Length : 1 mile

     

     How Long it Took Us : 2.5 Hours

     

    Overview : January 10th – it’s 5PM and the moon is full. We spent some evening time in our backyard, marveling at the moon’s brightness, absorbing it’s brilliance before heading inside for dinner.

     

     The very first full moon of 2020. The Wolf Moon.

     

     Why is the new year’s moon called the Wolf Moon? There are so many ancient ties between wolves and January’s full moon, it’s hard to nail down a specific origin. The Gaelic word for January, Faoilleach, comes from the term for wolves, faol-chù. The Saxon word for January is Wulf-monath, or Wolf Month. The festival of the Japanese wolf god, Ooguchi Magami, is held in January and the Sioux tribe called January’s full moon the Moon Where Wolves Run Together. A medieval favorite has roots to the days of Odin, Loki, and Thor. 

     

     

    In this Norse myth, two wolves – Skoll and Hati – spend their lives chasing the sun and moon across the sky. On the day of Ragnarok, the Norse apocalypse, the wolves were said to finally catch their elusive prey, with Skoll swallowing the sun and Hati gobbling the moon, plunging the cosmos into darkness.

     

    Rewind the day’s clock 6 hours and you’d find us outside on another, separate wolf adventure. 

     

    Wolf Tree in Lanesborough

     If you’ve ever taken a walk in pastoral New England and spotted a large, low-branched tree that looks strangely out of place in it’s surroundings, you’ve probably seen a “wolf tree.”

    Also called legacy or pasture trees, the term “wolf tree” was most likely coined by foresters stumbling upon these lone wolves in the woods. Often left uncut in open fields to provide shade for grazing livestock, many are found near remnants of stone walls because of an old “rule” that you didn’t cut down trees along your property boundaries.

    Much like the Norse wolf Skoll, these wooden wolves also had the ability to “eat” the sun. Left all alone in abandoned fields, these alpha trees monopolized nutrients and prevented the growth of other trees. Today, it’s important to understand how much these giants now benefit their surroundings. Michael Gaige, a conservation biologist who studied the use of wolf trees by wildlife, found that the trees are favored over more typical forest trees. Birds and mammals both frequently utilize wolf trees, Gaige “concluded unequivocally that wolf trees are a boon to wildlife.” You can read more about wolf trees and his findings here. 

     At Road’s End Wildlife Sanctuary in Worthington, the wolves are out in full force. Ancient sugar maples line the access road, showing their age in the splintering limbs and deep cavities. Within the woodlands, look for these solitary giants providing critical nesting sites for area birds. Conserved and protected by Mass Audubon, Road’s End is a typical abandoned farmstead. The forest may be coming back, but the clues to it’s former past linger everywhere. Go hunting for wolves, full wolf moon optional.

     

    What We Dug : Road’s End has all the distinguishing characteristics of land that was once used for agricultural and lumbering purposes, now being reclaimed by the forest. Rock walls, cellar holes, and the mixture of old growth and new growth woodlands. It’s the perfect spot to put your land use detective skills to the test! As we walked, I tried to get the kids to imagine what the land used to look like, asking them to picture sheep and cows grazing in the fields (with the snow as a mental roadblock, this lasted approximately 25 seconds). The Nancy Weiss Trail was the perfect mix of flat area sidling along next to a freshly awakening brook.

    Syncing up with the wolf moon, we spent some time hunting for wolf trees, but this is an activity you can do anytime. Check out this link for a FREE printable wolf tree activity!

    Another fun activity to try when you’re walking amongst a grove of pine trees is to try and count their age. As a pine tree grows each year, new branches form a circle, or “whorl”, around the trunk. These branch “whorls” each signify one year of growth. The number of whorls is an approximation of the age of the tree. By counting from base to crown, you can estimate how old the tree is. This can be difficult on older trees. Although it’s not a wholly accurate indicator of age, it is fun for kids to guess-timate and practice their counting skills.

    For the older nature sleuth, or my fellow adult investigator, I can’t say enough about terrestrial ecologist Tom Wessels and his books, “Reading the Forested Landscape” or “Forest Forensics“, both invaluable resources on deciphering the past lives of New England’s landscapes. If you’re more of a visual kinda person, the 3-part video done by New England Forest is available, FREE, here on Youtube. Skip to 13:35 on Part 3 for his input on wolf trees.

    What We Could Do Without : See those snow slugs? Yea, those slugs are mine. Truth be told, the kids were not thrilled on this hike. Even with activities prepared, they were over it 5 minutes in. Sh*t just be like that sometimes. With some bribery and mild threats, we made it through and chalked it up as an off day.

     

    Due to the mild day, snow was melting and Corbett Road was pretty muddy. Definitely wouldn’t attempt during real Spring thaw unless you have a car with the ability to traverse deep mud.

     

    Keep Your Eyes Peeled For: cellar holes, wood frog, spotted salamander, bear claw marks on American beech trees, old rock walls, white pine, wolf trees, apple trees, sugar maple, beaver and beaver ponds, mink, otter, muskrat, wood duck, nuthatches, woodpecker, deer, porcupine, black bear

     

    Must Know Before You Go’s : In the winter months, the parking area is not plowed.

     Parking is allowed at the end of Corbett Road and then walk to the trailhead.

    Leave pets at home. Refrain from running, bike riding, or driving motorized vehicles.

    No fishing, hunting, or trapping 

     

    Directions : From the east: Take the Mass Turnpike (Rt I-90) to exit 4 (Rt I-91 north) to exit 19 (Rt 9). Follow Rt 9 west through Northampton and Williamsburg. Take a left onto Rt 143 west and follow it for approximately 12 miles to the intersection of Rt 143 and Rt 112 (Clark Road). Take a right onto Rt 112 north and a quick left onto Corbett Road (dirt road). The sanctuary is located at the end of Corbett Road. Corbett Road is impassable during the winter and mud season.

     

     

    From the west: Follow Rt 9 east to the intersection of Rt 9 and Rt 143. Turn right onto Rt 143 east and follow it to the intersection of Rt 143 and Rt 112. Turn left onto Rt 112 north and follow directions above from “Rt 112 north.”

    GPS: 42.423736, -72.930181

    Website : https://www.massaudubon.org/get-outdoors/wildlife-sanctuaries/road-s-end 

    Resources : https://www.americanforests.org/magazine/article/wolf-%20%20trees-elders-of-the-eastern-forest/

     https://www.americanforests.org/magazine/article/woodman-spare-that-wolf-tree/

    https://northernwoodlands.org/articles/article/a-place-for-wolf-trees 

    https://www.13hares.com/moons

    https://norse-mythology.org/skoll-hati/

     

    Scroll through for more pictures of our Road’s End adventure!

     

     

     

     

    8 Winter Hikes for Families

     

    Winter is a wonderful time of year to hike. Blankets of snow and the crisp, cold air bring a fresh perspective to many of our favorite, familiar places. Views are clearer and unobstructed, bugs are a non-issue, and animal tracks turn us all into snow detectives. Check out some of our favorite spots for Winter family hiking. Pile on the layers and get out there already! Be sure to have the cocoa ready for your return…

    “Let us not wish away the winter. It is a season to itself, not simply the way to spring. Winter is a table set with ice and starlight.” – Greta Crosby

     

    1. Field Farm FREE / 316 Acres

    Located in Williamstown, this Trustees of Reservations property is 4 miles of trails through expansive fields, sculpture gardens, and features 2 historic modernist homes. The day we visited the beavers were very busy preparing for winter.

    Suggested routePond Trail: 0.4 miles (around an active beaver pond) Ice Skating Prohibited

     

    2. Steepletop FREE / 1,230 Acres

     The largest Berkshire Natural Resources Council property, located in both New Marlborough and Sandisfield. A mix of old-growth and young forest, stonewalls and brooks, Steepletop offers 5 miles of maintained trails. This is a great place to go hunt for animal tracks after a fresh dusting of snow.

    Suggested route – Louise Lane: (North Loop) 2.2 miles Open For Snowshoeing & Cross Country Skiing

     

    3. Bullitt Reservation FREE / 265 Acres

     Another Trustees property in Ashfield and Conway. This former farm and summer retreat of U.S. ambassador William C. Bullitt, has ample fields, woodlands and streams to explore. Check out the historic farmhouse and the neighboring beaver ponds.

     Suggested RoutePebble Trail: 1mile. Keep an eye out for “The Pebble”a large glacier erratic on the trail.

     

    4. Canoe Meadows Wildlife Sanctuary FREE / 253 Acres

     One of the 1st hikes we ever did was at Canoe Meadows in Pittsfield. This Mass Audubon property offers 3 miles of well-marked walking trails. A wonderful place to birdwatch and test out your winter pishing skills. Don’t forget the binoculars!

     Suggested Route – Sacred Way Trail: 1 mile Sometimes flooded by beaver activity.

     

    5. Housatonic Flats FREE / 26 Acres

    Stretching along a half-mile of Housatonic riverbank, this BNRC property in the center of Great Barrington is the perfect spot to get your family a quick dose of the outdoors. Terrific place to bring Fido along too.

     Suggested Route – Housatonic Flats Trail0.9 mile round-trip Leashed dogs please.

    6. Road’s End Wildlife Sanctuary FREE / 190 Acres

    Another Mass Audubon gem in Worthington, offering two gentle loops through fields and forest, most of it bordering brookside. Keep an eye out for the large “Wolf Trees.”

     Suggested Route – Brookside Trail Loop: 0.5 mile Note: The parking area is not plowed in the winter. Park at the end of Corbett Road and walk to access road to the trailhead. 

    7. The Cascades FREE 

    Maintained by the Trustees, this short river walk follows the Notch Brook in North Adams.

     The entire hike takes about 1.5 hours and is flat enough for even the most inexperienced to enjoy a taste of nature. Always be cautious of ice in winter and bring along Yaktrax or hiking poles to ensure safety!

     The parking lot is located at the end of Marion Ave, at the Northern Berkshire YMCA. Please be respectful of the YMCA & elementary school especially during school hours.

     Check out this link for a cool video of The Cascades in winter.

     

    8. Greylock Glen Meadow FREE / 1,063 Acres

    One of our all-time favorite places to get outdoors with the kids. We reviewed this trail in May and returned again January 1st of 2020 to kick off the New Year. We even made a custom scavenger hunt for our adventure, the kids loved it!

    Suggested Route – Glen Meadow Loop 1.57 miles The Glen has multi-use trails for hikers, naturalists, skiers, snowshoers, mountain bikers, and snowmobiles.

     

     

    Share your favorite Winter spots with us in the comments!

     

    The Cascades: David Smith