Where We Went: John Lambert Nature Trail, Pittsfield MA (Part of the Berkshire Community College Campus)
When We Went: July
Difficulty (Boots 1 – 10): 1 Boot
Trail Length: The Meadow Loop is less than 1 mile, adding the woodland spur trail, about 1.1 miles total.
How Long it Took Us: 1.5 hours
Overview: The John Lambert Nature Trail located on the main campus at Berkshire Community College was made by environmental students and faculty. The area is maintained by BCC students through “service learning” — purposeful assignments designed to serve community needs and to connect learning to those needs. (Sounds a lot like place-based education or learning by way of hitting the trails!)
The trail was named to honor former BCC professor emeritus of science & engineering, John Lambert. Lambert is a highly respected faculty alum and was a cornerstone for Berkshire Community College’s environmental program since the 1970s.
Find the nature trail to the rear of the main building, and behind the Ralph Hoffmann Environmental Science and Sustainable Energy Center. Arrows and white blazes on trees mark the way. Now part of the college’s 180-acre campus, the trail takes you through formerly cultivated upland meadow and forests that have developed from once clear-cut pasture land that was known as the “North Woods” area of Pittsfield. Prior to colonization, it was included in the homelands of the Mohican Peoples, now known as the Stockbridge-Munsee Mohicans.
What We Dug: The John Lambert Nature Trail is one of those little hidden places scattered amongst the Berkshire hills. Often overlooked and therefore uncrowded, it’s a terrific spot for a low-key afternoon walk. We brought our nature boards along equipped with the summer scavenger hunt insert and the kids had success finding plenty of critters enjoying the fruits of the meadow. Look for numbered posts on the trail that correspond to a self-guided tour you can follow along with online.
The views of the Taconic Range are beautiful on a clear day and incredibly rewarding for such minimal effort. This is an excellent place to bring along a pair of binoculars and look for birds. Be sure and take the woodland trail (Orange blazes) for some shade cover and a cooler walk near Smith Brook.
What We Could Do Without: I included this trail in our list of accessible trails in Berkshire County, but as I learn more about ADA regulations, I’m not sure if this truly qualifies for universal access. Although there is a paved entrance by the parking area, the slope of the hill may be difficult for manual wheelchairs. The Meadow Loop is widely mowed but the grass is not compact. Additionally, the end of the trail by the Hoffman Environmental Center is inaccessible and requires you to double back in order to exit. I would love to hear some input on this trail in regards to personal experience, please feel free to email me at email@example.com.
Keep Your Eyes Peeled For: Milkweed, Butterflies, Eastern Bluebird, Starlings, Tree Swallows, House Sparrows, Kestrels, Eastern Cottontail Rabbits, Garter Snake, Ferns, White Pine, Birch, Striped Maple, Sugar Maple, Views of the Taconic Mountain Range and Berkshire Hills.
Must Know Before You Go’s: No facilities. Please be conscious of the school and its ongoing activities. Take proper precautions to protect yourself against tick bites. Pack out any trash and dog bags — leave with grace.
Directions: Berkshire Community College Campus, 1350 West St
Pittsfield, MA 01201. Trailhead is around the back of the main building next to the Ralph Hoffman Environmental Science Center.
Resources: Berkshire Eagle Archives, 1995.