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

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

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”

5 Reasons To Walk In The Rain – Ashuwillticook Rail Trail

Where We Went : Ashuwillticook Rail Trail/Lanesborough entrance

When We Went : Mid-June

Difficulty (Boots 1 – 10) : 0 Boots! (except for our rain boots)

Trail Length : 11.2 Miles (We only walked about 1.5 miles before turning around.)

How Long it Took Us : 2 Hours

Overview : In the 1840s the Pittsfield/North Adams railroad made an attempt to extend the Housatonic railroad from Pittsfield to Rutland, VT. After changing ownership a number of times, the corridor became disused in 1990, and local residents clamored for support of a multi-use trail. The old railroad tracks were converted into an 11.2 mile trail stretching from Lanesborough to Adams, opening in three phases in 2001, 2004, and 2017.

The 10-foot wide paved path is accessible for all kinds of recreation : strollers, bicycles, wheelchairs, rollerblades, running, walking, and skiing in the winter months.

You can access the trail from the Lanesborough side or the Adams entrance. Our location has us closer to the trailhead in Lanesborough, with parking areas at the base of the entrance road for the Berkshire Mall (don’t bother…well..Target).

The word Ashuwillticook (ash-oo-will-ti-cook) is from the American Indian name for the south branch of the Hoosic River and literally means “at the in-between pleasant river,” or in common tongue, “the pleasant river in between the hills.”

From the parking area, the trail enters into the woods parallel to the Hoosic River and MA 8, which is heavily screened by trees. During the first mile of your walk, Berkshire Pond will be on your left. If you venture farther, you will see the 418-acre Cheshire Reservoir. It was built in the 1860s to provide power for the area’s textile mills. Keep an eye out for Mount Greylock, on a clear day you can just make out the tower!

What We Dug :

The sun wouldn’t shine, it had rained all day.

Boredom set in and the kids itched to play.

They sat there together, with nothing to do.

They sat and they sat, feeling quite blue…ENOUGH!

 

Now I’m no Dr. Seuss, but you know those days I’m rhyming about: wet, dark, and dreary, the rain seems to leave us with no other choice but to shelter indoors. With no Cat in the Hat to step in and save the day, the children begin to take matters into their own dysfunctional paws. Whining becomes the backing track to your day. Some strange trick of the universe makes even those trusty screens not enough to tame the beasts (no shame in the tablet game). Every third sentence contains the “B” word. No, not the one describing your overall demeanor after finding yourself marooned with tiny tyrants. BORED. That one. The one they’ll say enough that it BORES a hole right through your skull. Verbal trepanning aside, you know what they say – if you can’t beat ’em, join ’em, and in this case, I completely agree. 

We needed an outlet for all the pent up energy we had, both negative and positive, and nature is the ideal conduit.

Ashuwillticook was our ticket out of the doldrums (our Tock-et for all the Phantom Tollbooth fans out there.)

The highlight of our romp in the rain was our turtle encounter. On one side we saw a ravaged nest and the shells that were left behind from another animals feast. On the other was a mama turtle in the middle of her own egg endeavor. Initially seeing her laying trailside at the beginning of our walk, we spent a few moments of curious study and went on our way. When we had turned around for our return trip, we found her laying the last of her eggs and making her way back to the water. Her “shell-ter,” as Mason called it – yup. no doubt that’s my kid.

We returned to the car somewhat soggy, but refreshed and more importantly, re-centered. The dark cloud that hovered over us indoors was no match for the towering nimbuses that swiftly deflated our funk.

If our romp in the rain tortoise anything, (sorry. had to do it.) it’s that we shouldn’t be so quick to dismiss the day and its possibilities solely based on the weather.


 

 Here are FIVE reasons to grab your galoshes and take a stroll in the rain

 

1. Population: Or lack of. Pretty obvious, but since most of us run for cover when it starts to rain, you’ll find you have most places to yourself, offering more quiet and more time with your thoughts.

 

2. pH/Pollution: Go get a free facial from Mother Nature. Some studies say that rain water is extremely alkaline in nature which can be beneficial for both skin and hair. But even if you skip the deluge for a clay mask later, know that as raindrops fall, they draw particles of soot, smog, and other types of

 

3. Petrichor: The word means “the earthy scent produced when rain falls on dry soil” and who doesn’t love it?

 

4. Powerless: If there’s one thing we can’t control, it’s the weather. It’s the decision-maker in so many of our day-to-day choices. Turn it on it’s head. Making the choice to take a walk no matter the weather, will help you give up control and lean in to whatever life throws at you.

 

5. Perspective: Look around you through different eyes. Whether you walk the same route everyday or constantly switch it up, rain sets a different mood. The sun can’t be relied upon for it’s constant glow and the gloomy reflections can be equally dazzling as a sunny sky. Just as in life, some of those seemingly lowest moments turn out to be the most magnificent. 


 

What We Could Do Without : To be honest, the worst part of our day was behind us. Once we got outdoors, the only thing we could do without was heading back in.

Keep Your Eyes Peeled For : Herons, egrets, red winged blackbirds, turtles, yellow perch, bass, northern pike, ospreys, beavers, mallards, bald eagle, Canadian geese

Must Know Before You Go’s : Parking is available on both the left and right of the Lanesborough entrance. An information kiosk is at the start of the trailhead. Bathroom facilities available from dawn to dusk. Paved, wide, flat trail is handicapped accessible. Picnic tables and benches along the trail. Fishing is permitted. Leashed dogs OK. Be aware that the trail is predominately used for bicycles and follow proper etiquette. (you may hear, “on your left!” just move over to the side.) There are some well marked cross streets that run through the trail. Be cautious and yield to vehicles.

Directions : To reach the Lanesborough trailhead from I-90, take Exit 2 to the toll plaza and bear right onto US 20/Housatonic St. toward Pittsfield. In 0.7 mile turn right onto Main St. Go 0.4 mile, and turn slightly left to remain on US 20 W. Go 10.2 miles and turn right in Pittsfield onto MA 9/East St. toward Dalton/Northampton. Go 1.4 miles and continue straight onto Merrill Road, and then go 1.8 miles and bear left onto MA 8/Cheshire Road. Go 1.5 miles and turn left onto US 7/MA 8 Connector Road. Parking is on the left and the right.

To reach the Adams trailhead, follow the directions above to MA 8/Cheshire Road. Go 12.1 miles north on MA 8/Cheshire Road, and turn left onto Center St./Park St. In 0.3 mile, turn right onto Hoosac St., and then take an immediate right onto Depot St.

Website :

 Resources :

Scroll through for more pictures of our Ashuwillticook adventure! 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Treasure Hunting – Mountain Meadow Preserve

Where We Went : Mountain Meadow Preserve / Williamstown, MA & Pownal, Vermont

When We Went : Last day of August

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

Trail Length : 4.1 miles of trails – Trail surrounding Mountain Meadow less than 1 mile loop

How Long it Took Us : 2 Hours

Overview : 180-acres of fields and reforested woods make up Mountain Meadow Preserve with portions located in both Williamstown, MA and Pownal, Vermont. Now owned and maintained by the

She lived out the rest of her days at the Brattleboro Retreat (a Vermont mental health facility), and her contributions have been widely forgotten.The well-mowed Niles Trail, Grace’s namesake, leads to the 690-foot elevated grassland where one can gaze across diverse wildflower fields. Spend some time soaking in the spectacular views of Mt. Prospect, Mt. Greylock, and the Taconic Range, that surround this massive meadow. Few landscapes can match the fiery patchwork that transforms the horizon during peak fall.

What We Dug : The short walk from the trailhead to the meadow was filled with excitement. Everywhere we turned, we discovered something new. Monarch caterpillars enjoying the milkweed, gnarled vines to swing on, and a hopping toad hurriedly crossing our path. Autumn days were far from our minds as we marched into the wild expanse of goldenrod and asters, banked among crimson sumac. It was fun telling the kids about an old goldenrod superstition. It’s been said that a person who carries goldenrod with them is destined to find treasure, being a symbol of riches and good fortune. This resulted in a scurry of hands and yellow clutchings, and we spent generous portions of this adventure “treasure hunting” and then doggedly trying to define “superstition” to a 6 year old – *face palm* (did I say fun?).

Continuing our slow amble around the field; monster grasshoppers, butterflies, and dragonflies galore surprised us at every turn. Veda, our 2 year old, found herself in flower heaven. Stopping to smell the roses (or in this case, the purple asters), takes no prodding when you’re only knee-high. Mason (6), was more difficult to impress. Throughout the hike, he had mentioned (read: repeated every 3rd step), how MUCH he’d LOVE to see a praying mantis. Neither Dan or myself had ever seen a mantis and not knowing much about them (habitat, lifespan, etc.), we did what any sane parent trying to avoid a massive let-down would do – SNACK TIME! This redirection didn’t last (it never does), and before long we were back to muttering our mantis mantra. And ya know what guys? It worked. I shit you not. Somehow that kid conjured a mantis out of the sky. Flying (they fly!) down in front of us was what looked like a white dragonfly. The creature landed on a large stalk and upon further investigation – there. it. was. MANTIS. We could not believe our eyes! It was quite a while before we abandoned our new friend and got back to the trail. Talk about speaking something into existence!

On this brilliantly blue day, the views of the Hoosac Valley and Mt. Greylock were breathtaking. At the top of the meadow the billowy sea of clouds hung almost motionless over the grand hills. With summer swiftly fleeing, you couldn’t help taking the extra time to drink it all in. We followed the loop back to the parking lot and vowed to return in the fall.

Lapses in parental judgment be damned, Mountain Meadow came through with the real treasures that day. Gold is for fools, nature is the infinite prize.

“In every walk with nature, one receives far more than he seeks.” – John Muir

What We Could Do Without : Muddy in spots. If it’s been raining in recent days before your visit, be sure to wear appropriate footwear. Be sure and tuck in your pants and do the pest prevention dance – fields and long grass can be tick-city.

Keep Your Eyes Peeled For :

Must Know Before You Go’s : Great Birding Locale, No Facilities, Leashed Dogs OK, Cross Country Skiing, Snowshoeing and Picnicking Permitted, No Bicycles.

Directions : Williamstown parking area: From the intersection of Rts. 2 and 7 in Williamstown, take Route 7 north for 1.7 miles. Bear right onto Mason Street (steep dirt road uphill), follow to entrance and parking. GPS – 42.7385337,-73.2075694

Alternate Entrance/Pownal, Vt. parking area: From the intersection of routes 2 and 7 in Williamstown, follow Route 7 north 1.7 miles, turn right onto Sand Spring Road, then bear right onto Bridges Road Follow for 0.3 miles, turn left onto White Oaks Road, and follow for 1.1 miles when road becomes dirt. Continue for 0.4 miles, bear left at fork onto Benedict Road, and continue 0.1 mile to entrance and parking (eight cars) on left.

Website :

Resources :

More info on the land’s former history here

Scroll through for more photos of our Mountain Meadow Adventure!

Ghosts In A Granite Graveyard – Historic Becket Quarry

Where We Went : Historic Becket Quarry

When We Went : Mid-August

Difficulty (Boots 1 – 10) : 1.5 Boots

Trail Length : Varying Lengths – Quarry Trail is under 3 miles round trip

How Long it Took Us : 2.5 Hours

Overview : Along with Autumn’s colorful arrival comes the advent of all things Halloween-y. It got me thinking, fall brings foliage and leaf-peeping excursions, but what about something a little more sinister than chlorophyll deficiency? Something for the spooky season, a haunted hike! New England has more than its share of the paranormal, and the Berkshires are no exception. As I looked back on our adventures, one of our late summer hikes came to mind. And a sentence I had read on the

“…as if the quarrymen had gone for lunch and never returned…”

A certain quiet quarry in the Becket hills is just the place for a weird walk. Rusty trucks and forgotten machinery sits deserted within the site of the Becket Quarry.

Now in a state of arrested decay, the 300 acres was once the thriving site of the Chester-Hudson Quarry, operational from 1860-1947. The large company, once famous for its Chester-blue granite extracted and shipped tons of the stone for tombstones (!!!), memorials and monuments in Chester, MA and the NY area. Even a devastating flood in 1927 didn’t stop operations. Until a seemingly fateful day, when the thundering resonance of machinery screeched to a halt and the last steam whistle blew on almost three-quarters of a century of granite production in Western Massachusetts. What happened? Logical explanations point to financial mismanagement and lack of capital for necessary improvements. But if you let the preserved ruins (and your imagination!) speak to you, maybe you’ll hear a different story…

What We Dug : If you take the

The rebuilt Stiff Leg Derrick site neighbors a beautiful overlook of the quarry itself. The derrick is an impressive reminder of the demanding and dangerous jobs of the men who came to work every day. During a moment of reflection, I stared across the graveyards of granite and felt a shiver run down my back. All that cold, silent stone waiting for the chisel of memorialization felt so lonely and desolate. I’m not alone in my feelings. Other hikers have reported eerie sensations of being watched, apparitions of workers still busily toiling away among the rusted machinery, cold spots, disembodied voices, and sounds of machinery drifting through the trees. The Boston Globe included it in a list of

Oblivious in their innocence, the kids were content to amble over boulders, search for machines, and watch the daring teenagers jump from the quarry ledges (NOT recommended). The view over the 90-foot deep quarry is absolutely stunning, even more so during the fall months, and the trek through a forest slowly reclaiming the imprints of a more modern world is not to be missed. The wind at the quarry seems to echo with the voices of the past.

With 2 kids under 10, we weren’t hyping up the spook factor

(nightmares = no bueno), but if you go looking for it – happy haunting!

What We Could Do Without : As a result of the prior misuse of the land (littering, vandalism, drunkenness, animal cruelty) and the foolish temptation to jump blindly into an opaque pool filled with the remains of old derricks and cables, there is a $10 fee to park. I completely understand and support the town of Becket’s decision to implement the charge to deter bad behavior, ensure safety and preserve the site. I’m disappointed that the need had to arise in the first place.

Keep Your Eyes Peeled For: Be sure to grab a map at the parking lot or print one from the Land Trusts

Must Know Before You Go’s : Open from dawn to dusk every day of the year, on-site parking is plentiful and parking along the road is prohibited. Parking is $10 per car on days when a security officer is on duty. The officer ensures the following rules: No diving, No fires, No coolers, No alcohol, Carry in/Carry out. Detailed maps showing both the 

Directions : Take Route 20 to Becket. At the intersection of Route 20, Route 8 North, and Bonny Rigg Hill Road, turn onto Bonny Rig Hill Road. At a 4-point intersection, turn left onto Quarry Road. Continue on Quarry Road, until you come to our signs and parking area on the right. 456 Quarry Road Becket, MA 01223

Website :

Resources :

https://www.thrillist.com/lifestyle/boston/the-most-insane-abandoned-places-in-massachusetts

Scroll through for more photos of our Becket Quarry adventure!