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.
Mom’s Day Out – Berkshire Camino

Mom’s Day Out – Berkshire Camino

You can’t pour from an empty cup.

That phrase. We hear it, we know it, and if you’re anything like me, you grit your teeth at it. “Go take a little time for yourself, some alone time,” my well-meaning husband says as I head out the door to grocery shop. Alone. “Self-care” echoes hollowly in my ears, a platitude that conjures up unrealistic images — plush, white spa robes, eye-cucumbers, and the tinkling sounds of Enya as you sip that long-stemmed glass of wine.

If there’s an antithesis for “self-care,” it’s motherhood, right? Motherhood is sacrifice. It’s a million mundane actions that add up to the “taking care” of other human beings, most typically, in spite of yourself. Days get lost in their familiarity. We’re exhausted and in this era of immediacy and multi-tasking, we take on more at one time than ever before. Mom, wife, daughter, sister, friend, teacher, chauffeur, entrepreneur, etc., — All of those spinning plates in the air at once, do you dare add another?

Mindy Miraglia is the founder and tour guide of Berkshire Camino. She provides town-to-town guided walks and hiking journeys here in the Berkshires. If the concept of Camino sounds familiar, you may be thinking of the Camino de Santiago, a 500-mile walk across Northern Spain. During a time of uncertainty in her own life, Mindy made a solo pilgrimage on the Santiago. What she discovered there she refers to now as her “super hero self,” an empowering belief and confidence that comes from walking out the door to greet life’s challenges and meeting your new self on the other side. Mindy has gone on to walk the Santiago a second time and it was these soul journeys that inspired the creation of Berkshire Camino.

My days of selective solitude are far behind me. Adventures tend to get smothered under the weight of ordinary days and most self-care attempts seem to take the form of late-night peanut butter cups and reality tv. So when Mindy asked if I’d like to join her on an upcoming Camino walk, I jumped at the opportunity to make it happen. I got a sitter and shoved all those other plates back into the cabinet, making sure to leave out just one: Taylor.

I didn’t know what to expect. To me, joining a disparate group of strangers for a shared afternoon of walking didn’t seem communal, it was scary and anxiety-inducing. Before we embarked, I mentally planned what I wanted to take away from the experience — a physical challenge, a hiking experience that would push me beyond the 1-milers I’d been getting alongside my kids. I’d focus on pushing my body and shutting off my mind. I’d go inward and let the elevation wind me through canopied forests as the summer sun strobed through the leaves. I’d sweat out the stress, the worry, the exhaustion, all that comes with being a mother.

But what I didn’t realize was that the real magic would happen in the unplanned moments of the Camino — the sharp eyesight of a fellow traveler pointing out a wayward red eft, the first shaky sentences of a new conversation, the peeling back of a small corner of a personal struggle, and the collective appreciation of taking in a vast expanse of pure blue sky.

I had thought looking inwards would be key to the day, but it was in the reaching outwards that gave space for some incremental healing. In those few hours, Berkshire Camino became our own communal mobile sanctuary.

We walked. We talked. We reflected. I finally felt myself let go and walk with no purpose. I walked down the dirt aisles of the forest with no list in my hand, no boxes to check, and it was in that void of purpose, that I found peace.

My sliver of time in this mobile sanctuary left my cup overflowing with gratitude, peace, renewal and connectivity. No, it’s not the imposing trek of the far-off Santiago, it’s the verdant hills and vales of the Berkshire Camino, and that journey is uniquely ours.

“You’ve got to unplug in order to connect.”

This isn’t just a walk in the woods. Believe me, I’ve been on a few. None of those walks have been as uniquely soul-satisfying as Berkshire Camino. I unplugged from my life for 3 hours, and in those hours, I came to understand what Mindy means when she says that, “you’ve got to unplug in order to connect.” We all know that taking a break from screens and getting out into nature is good for us. But unplugging from technology aside, when you manage to shut off the switch of your personal preconceptions, you may find that that is what you really needed in order to truly reboot.


For more information, including how to book your own Berkshire Camino walk, visit berkshirecamino.com.

Tag along with Mindy on her Camino adventures! Follow Berkshire Camino on Facebook and Instagram.

So many thanks go out to Mindy and my fellow travelers on that Sunday afternoon. This introvert never felt so extra-verted and it was glorious.

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.

The Caveman Cometh – Tory Cave Falls

The Caveman Cometh – Tory Cave Falls

Where We Went: Tory Cave Falls – October Mountain State Forest, Lenoxdale, MA

When We Went: Mid-June 2020

Difficulty (Boots 1 – 10): 2 Boots, (3 Boots to get to the cave)

Trail Length: Just over 0.5 miles roundtrip

How Long it Took Us: 1.5 hours

Overview: According to writer and connoisseur of the Berkshire unusual, Joe Durwin, the use of caves as refuge was in fact, not unusual. “Caves were the original literal criminal underworld. Berkshire County has more active or “live” caves than any area in the Northeast. Tories, counterfeiters, bootleggers, “wild men” and others have all recycled them for their needs.”

And in 1776, no one needed a rocky refuge more than Stockbridge resident, and local tavern owner Gideon Smith. Smith was a Tory, a loyalist to the British crown, and his tavern (located where Wheatleigh stands today), was a popular rendezvous spot for Tory messengers passing through from Albany to Springfield in the 18th century. Then in May of 1776, Smith harbored a British POW, Captain McKay, in his home and the neighboring rebels were out for blood.

So what’s a British loyalist to do? Break for the hills and hunker down in a cave until you’re in the clear. Rumor has it that the Mohican’s brought him food and that his wife would travel nightly four miles by arduous route to parade the children by the cave on a daily basis, just to show him they were well and safe. But clear never comes for Gideon. Foolishly sticking his head out of the cave one day, he was discovered! Caught and captured, he was put to the noose three times. According to “A History of Berkshire County,” “Having fastened a halter around his neck, he was attended with due solemnity to a signpost, pulled up and suffered to remain until nearly defunct.” Told he must renounce his Tory ways, Gideon held on until the third time, saying he would “swing his hat in favor of the Colonial cause.”

The deHeredia’s, former owners of Gilded era mansion Wheatleigh, found the original Smith tavern sign on the property and gifted it to the Stockbridge Historical Library in 1902. In 1782, Gideon left another mark, purchasing a grassy knoll on Mahkeenac Road for the use as a family burial ground. Quietly overlooking the Stockbridge Bowl, it’s curious that he is not among the 22 burials and his final resting place is unknown. Gideon was 98 when he died in 1838.

Another tale, more interesting to me than Gideon’s, is about the Caveman & his sweetheart. In 1932, the cave was used as a trysting spot for two star-crossed lovers, Lenoxdale’s own Bonnie & Clyde. Sixteen-year-old Myra Holmes and eighteen-year-old Albert Felix ran away from their homes one a Friday evening in May and were missing for a week. Extensive searches were held but only glimpses of the fugitives were to be had. One Eagle headline read, “Youthful Caveman Raids Iceboxes to Bring Back Food For Young Sweetheart.” A diary was found inside Tory cave detailing the story of the couple’s escapades, including Felix’s clandestine trips to “Shacktown to get some bread, coffee, sugar, and milk.”

They were eventually found in Albany on June 3rd and returned home to their parents.

But young hearts can’t be broken. And on July 2nd, 1932, the pair ran away again!

This time they took refuge in the partially finished James Brattle Burbank house on Williams Street in Pittsfield. As icebox items started to go missing in the neighborhood, the jig was up. On July 5th, police officers raided the residence where they found Myra and Albert armed with both rifle and revolver. After a short stand-off, both were arrested and charged with various crimes, including Myra’s additional charge of “being an exceptionally stubborn child.”

For another caving adventure, check out “Gold-Diggers & Cave Crawlers

What We Dug: If there are hiking and history involved, you know I’m thrilled. Tory Cave did not disappoint. The trail to the waterfall and cave was mild and mostly easy walking. Some portions of the trail were washed out from recent rains and there were a few fallen branches to navigate around. As the path starts to go uphill, you will pass a trail for Dewy Hill on your left-hand side. Just after this path on your right, is a footpath that goes down to the stream. Be cautious! Although short, the path down can be fairly steep and unreliable for sure-footing. The cave is not visible from the trail and we found we had passed right by it. Farther up the stream were easier access points where the kids enjoyed wading and rock climbing before we turned around and hit the cave.

Calling it a cave nowadays seems overly generous. In 2013, the rain from Hurricane Irene flooded Roaring Brook and eroded any remaining cave that was left after the landslide. The area is a little tricky to get to but the beauty makes it worth the fumbling footwork. I can almost see Myra and Albert splashing each other at the edge of the pool, wary of snapping twigs coming to interrupt their idyllic getaway. I wonder what happened to those two…if they ever ended up together or were doomed from the start.

What We Could Do Without: It was hot and humid. Add water to the mix and you’ve got mosquitoes. Buzzing, bloodthirsty blaggards, impervious to the densest plumes of repellent. I actually think some of them like it. Skeeters put a damper on shit for sure but we just keep marinating in citronella and hoping for the best.

Keep Your Eyes Peeled For: Walking ferns, hemlock, pine, red efts, wood frogs, mountain wood-sorel, water striders, rainbow and brook trout

Must Know Before You Go’s: Parking and trailhead are just before a small bridge. There is no parking area so use caution when parking on the shoulder. Trailhead heads east upstream along Roaring Brook. No facilities. Leashed dogs okay.

Directions: From Route-7 in Lenox, turn onto, heading east on New Lenox Road for 1.8 miles. At the intersection of East New Lenox Road and New Lenox Road, turn right onto Roaring Brook Road. Head south for 0.4 miles, just before a small bridge. Trailhead is to your left. GPS: N422316.08 -W731416.17

Website: October Mountain State Forest

Resources: lenoxhistory.org, “History of Berkshire County” by Godfrey Greylock, Berkshire Eagle Oct. 31, 1976, Berkshire Eagle May-July, 1932, These Mysterious Hills – Joe Durwin

Mom’s Day Out – The Mount

Mom’s Day Out – The Mount

“…the Mount was to give me country cares and joys, long happy rides and drives through the wooded lanes of that loveliest region, the companionship of a few dear friends, and the freedom from the trivial obligations which was necessary if I was to go on with my writing. The Mount was my first real home…”

Edith Wharton

Oof. I don’t know about you, but this mama is tyyy-eerd. Lately, it feels like I’m endlessly oscillating between humid days spent meeting the needs of uhh…everyone; to sleepless humid nights worrying if I met the needs of uhh…everyone. Most of the time I don’t even remember to check in with myself. Sound familiar to anyone? Cut to Friday last week. The kids were happily playing at a family members, (thank god for pandemic pods!) and I had 4-wheels and 5 hours ahead of me. What was a girl to do? Go grocery shopping??! NAH, let ’em starve! (I jest! But I actually did do that after…’cause mother guilt is like a real medical condition y’all, or at least it should be.)

That Friday afternoon, I channeled my innermost country aristocrat. I shook off the trappings of my most trivial obligations, stepped on the gas through the wooded lanes of Lenox, and pulled into the Mount’s iron gates towards freedom.

The Mount was home to writer Edith Wharton. In 1902, she bought the 130-acres for $40,600 and set to work building her country retreat. The Grounds are currently open daily to the public, dawn to dusk, and free of charge. Self-guided tours of the Main House resume July 16th and advance reservations are required.

I parked in the upper lot and started the 1/4 mile walk to the Main House under the gracious shade trees. (Vehicles with handicapped plates may drive down and park in the designated spaces next to the Main House.)

I took a short detour onto the Ledge Walk, beckoned by the umbrella-like Ganoderms waiting for rain. The Ledge Walk is one of 3 short trails on the Mount grounds, which also includes the Woodland Walk and the Beaver Pond Trail, a 4-mile loop with pond views and frequent bald eagle sightings.

After a rather buggy but tranquil jaunt, I found myself back on the paved path, close by the Main House and sprawling gardens. To my left, perched on a small hill, is Edith’s pet cemetery. Edith loved her dogs and six little headstones dot the mound, a nighttime stop on seasonal ghost tours. Admittedly, I have a somewhat strange and eccentric fascination with cemeteries, particularly old ones and I never pass up an opportunity to explore.

Down the hill is the French Flower Garden, bursting with color. It was Wharton’s niece, Beatrix Jones Farrand, a budding garden designer that contributed so heavily to the design of the Mount’s incredible gardens and the fruits of their collaboration are nothing beyond breathtaking. If you crave the shade, you’ll find the Woodland Walk & Beaver Pond Trail close-by.

The Terrace Café had just re-opened the day I visited. To elevate your day out considerably, grab some lunch (or a white-peach Sangria!) and picnic on the grounds. Or you can just head to the sunken Italian Garden and breathe in the begonias.

Wharton scholars say that it was here in Lenox that she felt she could do her best work and I can fully understand why. The peace of the grounds is unbeatable. The views, the smells, the colors, and the quiet make it a true sensory feast. It’s easy to pull up a small alcove, lean into the lushness, and find inspiration.

Which is just what I did. The groceries can wait.

For more information, visit edithwharton.org

The Mount is located at 2 Plunkett Street (at the corner of Route 7) Lenox, MA

Please review and follow the Mount’s Health and Safety Guidelines while on property

Paved & gravel paths accessible for strollers and wheelchairs. Dogs are allowed but must remain leashed.

If you do visit with family, check out this great Outdoor Scavenger Hunt!

20 Open-Air Spaces for Berkshire Families

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.