HIKING, BACKPACKING AND MOUNTAINEERING
"ON Aug. 5, 1850, the novelist Herman Melville, the editor Evert Duyckinck and the writer Oliver Wendell Holmes took the morning train from Pittsfield to Stockbridge in western Massachusetts. The group joined several others, including their host, David Dudley Field Jr., and the 46-year-old author Nathaniel Hawthorne. Hawthorne had recently moved to Lenox after losing his job in the port of Salem. Melville, 32, was at work on a whaling adventure; his manuscript was already late at his London publisher ... Field planned a picnic atop Monument Mountain, a celebrated ridge in the southern Berkshires ... Holmes told those who would summer in the Berkshires, "You must carry mountains in your brain."
Excerpt from The New York Times "In Melville's Footsteps"
TRAILS AND INFORMATION
TRUSTEES OF RESERVATIONS
"[To protect places in Massachusetts - "special bits of scenery" - Trustees of Reservations founder, Charles] Eliot, proposed the creation of a unique statewide nonprofit organization ... to hold land free of taxes for the public to enjoy “just as a Public Library holds books and an Art Museum holds pictures.”
MONUMENT MOUNTAIN On August 5, 1850, Nathaniel Hawthorne and Herman Melville enjoyed a well-chronicled picnic hike up Monument Mountain.From the 1,642-foot summit of Squaw Peak, enjoy views as far north as Mount Greylock, near the Vermont border, and, in the western distance, the Catskills of New York.
BARTHOLOMEW'S COBBLE Created by geologic upheavals when the Taconic and Berkshire ranges were formed, this hundred-foot-high bedrock outcropping introduces visitors to a rugged and exotic landscape that also supports 800 species of plants while offering terrific mountain vistas. SEE PHOTOS & INTERVIEW WITH THE CONSERVATION RANGER OF BARTHOLOMEW'S COBBLE HERE.
"All of the land at our wildlife sanctuaries is protected. By conserving these open spaces, Mass Audubon, along with its members and partners, is able to fulfill its mission of protecting the nature of Massachusetts."
PLEASANT VALLEY WILDLIFE SANCTUARY Featuring 1,300 acres and seven miles of well-marked trails with extensive hardwood forests, TRAILS | See photos of Pleasant Valley Wildlife Sanctuary here.
APPALACHIAN MOUNTAIN CLUB/ BERKSHIRE CHAPTER
"Founded in 1876, the Appalachian Mountain Club promotes the protection, enjoyment, and understanding of the mountains, forests, waters, and trails of America’s Northeast and Mid-Atlantic regions."
The Berkshire Chapter of the Appalachian Mountain Club provides an updated listing of outdoor activities along the Trail. Hikers can find groups to join along specified sections of the trail.
APPALACHIAN TRAIL CONSERVANCY
"The Appalachian Trail Conservancy’s mission is to preserve and manage the Appalachian Trail – ensuring that its vast natural beauty and priceless cultural heritage can be shared and enjoyed today, tomorrow, and for centuries to come."
BERKSHIRE NATURAL RESOURCES COUNCIL (BNRC)
"Berkshire Natural Resources Council is a non-profit land conservation organization working throughout the Berkshires in Massachusetts to preserve threatened lands. The Council places special emphasis on protecting Berkshire’s farms, forests, streams, and ridgelines – the great landscape features that give us clean water, fresh air, local produce, healthy wildlife, and outstanding recreational opportunities.
BNRC Properties are conserved for public benefit: You can hike, ski, snowshoe, swim, ice skate, run, mountain bike, hunt, fish, forage, nature watch, paint pictures, take photographs, eat and drink (we won’t check your ID, but you’d better be 21!), and walk your dog off-leash (just don’t leave any surprises on the trail, please). Some places you can ride your horse. You can take a nap or get married on BNRC land. These are your Berkshires – we want you to make the most of every minute you’re outdoors."
NORTH YOKUN RIDGE From Olivia’s Overlook a three mile loop on Lenox Mountain. High quality hiking, snowshoeing, and mountain biking, and suitable for adventurous cross-country skiers. READ MORE
BOB'S WAY Three gentle ‘stacked loop’ trails totaling about 2.5 miles, highlighted by Dave’s Bench and a beautiful beaver swamp. READ MORE
GREAT BARRINGTON TRAILS
"Great Barrington Trails and Greenways is a collaborative that supports the development of an interconnected, town-wide trail system to encourage walking, biking and paddling. GB Trails provides calendars of events for hikers, paddlers, bird watchers, gardeners and more." EXCELLENT listings of walks and events READ MORE.
FAVORITE LOCAL GUIDE
Photos above courtesy Bell Dillman: Appalachian Trail; bear tracks; porcupine quills; Pink Lady's Slipper
Bess Dillman's website, BERKSHIRE HIKER, provides an excellent portfolio of guide services, trails in the region and detailed photographs of flora, tracks, and hiking trails. Certified by the Appalachian Hiking Club as a hiking leader, Bess has been leading hikes professionally since 2007 and has led over 250 hikes.
"I grew up in the Berkshires on a dead-end dirt road way out in the country. My father was a very enthusiastic nature educator and I loved walking in the woods with him because he would get so excited about anything he found interesting.
I never get tired of walking in the Berkshires—I love the variety of habitats, terrain, trails, flora and fauna; the beauty of the forest, streams, meadows and mountaintops; and , perhaps most of all, the peace I feel out on the trail.
I lead hikes for the Berkshire Chapter of the Appalachian Mountain Club and most Tuesdays for the Tuesday Berkshire Hikers.
I custom-design Berkshire hiking experiences specifically for your abilities, your interests and your time schedule. Email or call for rates and options."