Best Easy Day Hikes Berkshires  by Jim Bradley

Best Easy Day Hikes: Berkshires Guide Book

by Jim Bradley (Falcon Guides)
Best Easy Day Hikes Berkshires  by Jim Bradley
Best Easy Day Hikes Berkshires includes concise descriptions and detailed maps for twenty easy-to-follow hikes in the scenic hills of western Massachusetts that once inspired Henry David Thoreau and Norman Rockwell. Discover quiet forests, awe-inspiring waterfalls, and breathtaking summits -- from Bash Bish Falls and Monument Mountain to Mount Greylock and the Mohawk Trail State Forest.

© 2011 Jim Bradley/Falcon Guides. All Rights Reserved.

Trails from the "Best Easy Day Hikes: Berkshires" Guide Book
Displaying trails 20 of 20.

Displaying trails 1 to 20 of 20.

The Ashuwillticook (ash-oo-will-ti-cook) Rail Trail is a former railroad corridor converted by the Massachusetts Department of Recreation and Conservation into a paved multiuse trail. This 10.9-mile point-to-point trek has plenty of places to rest and picnic along the way. Enjoy views of the Mount Greylock Range across the Cheshire Reservoir. Informative signs will teach you about the area. From the parking area, the Ashuwillticook Rail Trail starts at the trailhead bathrooms (open seasonally during daylight hours) and heads north. This rail trail is multiuse, so keep an eye out for cyclists, runners, and people on skates.
Lanesborough, MA - Cross-Country Skiing,Hiking,Rail-Trails,Road Biking,Trail Running - Trail Length: 10.9
Hike through fields and forests on this nice route. Pass through beautiful fields of wildflowers on your way to Hurlburt’s Hill, a pristine scenic overlook. Stroll along the banks of the Housatonic River, passing the second largest cottonwood tree in the state. Return on the Ledges Trail, which makes its way around the cobble that gives this property its name. From the visitor center parking area, cross Weatogue Road and enter the field. The Hal Borland Trail follows the northern edge of the field. Many different wildflowers grow in the fields and open spaces throughout the year. A sign-board on the outside of the visitor center shows photos of what is in bloom at any given time. The trail bends to the left, following a cow pasture filled with friendly cows that love to come up to the fence to say hi.
Great Barrington, MA - Birding,Cross-Country Skiing,Hiking,Snowshoeing,Trail Running - Trail Length: 3.8
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Bash Bish Falls is a quick hike with a huge reward. Some say the 60-foot uninterrupted falls are Massachusetts’s most spectacular. The Bash Bish Brook cascades nearly 120 feet before making the 20-foot plunge to the stone pillar that splits the falls into two, with both then dropping nearly 60 feet to the pool below. Climbing and swimming around the falls is prohibited. AOL Travel named Bash Bish Falls one of the top ten most dangerous travel destinations. The falls have claimed the lives of more than twenty-five people, but if the rules and regulations are followed Bash Bish is as safe as any other hike in this book.
Great Barrington, MA - Hiking,Snowshoeing - Trail Length: 0.8
The Burbank Trail takes you through one of Berkshire Natural Resources Council’s premier properties. This 407-acre parcel is located on the southern slopes of Lenox Mountain. This hike will take you through a beautiful new-growth forest and past the peaceful Monks Pond, an 1800s farmhouse site, and an overlook at the top of the Yokun Ridge.
Stockbridge, MA - Cross-Country Skiing,Hiking,Mountain Biking,Snowshoeing,Trail Running - Trail Length: 3.2
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Just minutes from downtown Pittsfield, Canoe Meadows offers a true wilderness feel. A very popular bird-watching spot in the Berkshires, hike along the Sackett Brook and view wildlife from the observation building on the edge of a beaver marsh. The observation building is built on the bank of a marshy beaver wetland. Looking out the small windows of the building, you can see bullfrogs, turtles, muskrats, otters, and tons of bird varieties. The sanctuary is a popular bird-watching spot; more than 150 different birds have been identified here.
Pittsfield, MA - Cross-Country Skiing,Hiking,Snowshoeing,Trail Running - Trail Length: 1.8
Hike along the powerful Dunbar Brook, passing many small falls and rapids. Pass through some of the finest old-growth forest in all of New England—some trees along the trail are up to 500 years old and reach 125 feet in height. The Dunbar Brook travels through some intense terrain. The topography of Monroe State Forest has kept loggers out for years. The state forest boasts over 250 acres of the finest old-growth forest in all of southern New England.
Florida, MA - Hiking,Snowshoeing - Trail Length: 6.2
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Field Farm is a 316-acre property owned and maintained by The Trustees of Reservations. Field Farm encompasses 4 miles of hiking trails through a working hayfield and pasture, offering up some of the best views of Mount Greylock and the Taconic Range. Roam through untouched forests to the small caves. This hike will take you to almost every corner of this great property.
Adams, MA - Cross-Country Skiing,Hiking,Snowshoeing,Trail Running - Trail Length: 2.9
Just seconds from downtown Stockbridge, Ice Glen offers a climb through a glacial ravine. Climb over and around rocks and boulders to make your way through the glen. The crevasses of the glen sometimes harbor ice into the summer. At the end of the glen, sit beneath what some argue is the oldest pine tree in the state. At the start of the glen a moss-covered vertical rock face is inscribed Ice Glen—The Gift to Stockbridge—of —David Dudley Field—1891. If you enter the glen on a hot summer day, you will feel the rush of cold air flowing out from the cracks and crevices deep below. Many large rocks and boulders have fallen from above due to frost and tree root damage. These fallen rocks have created many small passageways and minicaves that adventurous children love to explore. Some of these rocks can be slippery and tricky to climb over, so be cautious. The Ice Glen gets its name because the glen holds ice much longer than anywhere else in the area—sometimes ice can be found in the glen into June.
Stockbridge, MA - Hiking - Trail Length: 1.4
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Hike along a series of dirt roads, jeep trails, and footpaths to the abandoned keystone arch bridges, built in the 1840s and deserted in 1912. Walk along the old rail bed through a hand-dug chasm with 70-foot walls on your way to the last of the arch bridges. The keystone arches were built by hand in the 1840s without mortar. They are the oldest bridges of their kind built for rail use in the United States. The Keystone Arch Bridges Trail, also known as the K.A.B. Trail, is marked with blue trail markers and K.A.B. tags. You will pass through a massive man-made chasm with 70-foot-high walls. Workers only had picks, shovels, and gunpowder to dig out this chasm for train passage. In winter the walls become covered with ice, making an impressive winter wonderland.
Becket, MA - Hiking,Mountain Biking,Snowshoeing - Trail Length: 4.2
Enjoy a three-state view from Laura’s Tower. Use the locator wheel atop the tower to orient yourself with area mountain ranges. Climb through stands of old hemlock and white pine that the Laurel Hill Association has been protecting since 1853, making it the oldest conservation group still active today. Head southeast from the parking area, crossing the Housatonic River on the Goodrich Memorial Suspension Footbridge, keep straight across the railroad tracks. The Mary Flynn Trail leaves to the left. Continue on the Laura's Tower Trail. The trail starts to climb through a mixed forest just after the tracks. White pine and hemlock trees make up the larger trees in the area.
Stockbridge, MA - Hiking,Snowshoeing - Trail Length: 1.6
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Monument Mountain attracts over 20,000 visitors per year and it is no wonder why, given the awe-inspiring 360-degree views of the Taconic Range, Mount Greylock, and the Housatonic River valley. Well-marked trails take you to the summit of Squaw Peak, where you can have a picnic at the summit just like authors Nathaniel Hawthorne and Herman Melville did in 1850. From the map kiosk at the trailhead, head south on the well-marked Indian Monument Trail, traveling the loop in a clockwise direction. The trail follows the edge of US 7 for .5 mile before bending to the right and heading away from the roadway. As you climb Indian Monument Trail, the traffic noise fades. At the junction with Squaw Peak Trail, turn right onto Squaw Peak Trail. The trail to the Squaw Peak summit is steep and rocky in sections but the view is well worth the climb.
Great Barrington, MA - Cross-Country Skiing,Hiking,Snowshoeing,Trail Running - Trail Length: 2.7
This river walk mixes the natural beauty of the river with the rich history of a business that once thrived here in the Berkshires. This short walk takes you along the river’s edge, passing the ruins of a nineteenth-century textile mill, along old penstocks used to divert water to the mills downstream. The path was completely excavated and gravel was put in place on top of a special fabric to resist erosion and keep plant life off the track. Composite bridges were built for safe passage over the river and across drainage ditches. The trail follows the river’s floodplain, a wet environment that makes it easy for many fern species to line the route. At 0.1 mile cross the river on the largest of the bridges—volunteers built this 50-foot bridge in one day.
Pittsfield, MA - Hiking,Snowshoeing,Trail Running - Trail Length: 1.6
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The Berkshires are located in the far west section of Massachusetts, in the rolling hills between New York and Boston. Well known for their natural beauty and ease of access, the Berkshires have inspired great authors and artists such as Nathaniel Hawthorne, Norman Rockwell, Herman Melville, and Henry David Thoreau over the years. Hike around the 35-acre Benedict Pond, taking a rest halfway to sit on the bench gazing over the pond and listen to the children swim and play.This easy-to-follow flat hike is great for beginners or hikers with young children. Possible wildlife sightings include deer, bobcat, beaver, and bear, to name a few.
Great Barrington, MA - Hiking,Snowshoeing,Trail Running - Trail Length: 1.8
This short hike will show you what Mount Greylock has to offer without breaking a sweat. The Rounds Rock Trail takes you through a small boreal spruce bog and blueberry barrens, passing the site of a 1948 plane crash. Parts of the wreckage remain as a monument to the pilot who died there. If you are willing to put the work in, hiking in either of these ranges affords some marvelous views. Don’t think the beauty ends there: The Hoosic River and the Housatonic River run through valleys in the Berkshires, a backdrop for possibly more gorgeous scenery than the mountaintops. Many would say to save your trip for peak fall foliage in autumn, when the hills explode with color, but beauty can be found in any season!
Adams, MA - Hiking - Trail Length: 1
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Well-marked trails lead you on a gentle trek to the iron viewing platform overlooking Stevens Glen. On your way to the glen, pass wildflowers and wild berries on the short journey through the forest. The trail is well traveled, maintained, and easy to follow. Hemlock, red oak, and pine are plentiful in this part of the forest. The trail crosses a small brook on a footbridge before passing under some power lines. In the clearing for the power lines, wild raspberries and wildflowers grow.
Stockbridge, MA - Hiking,Snowshoeing - Trail Length: 1.2
A short but fairly steep hike to arguably the most scenic panorama in the entire Commonwealth. The return is by way of one of the reservation’s most popular trails along the southern slope of the bowl-shaped Hopper. The path is level initially in the shade of maples, birches, and white ash, and then steepens before bearing left on the first of a series of four major switchbacks that take you up the slope. It becomes steeper and rougher.
Adams, MA - Hiking,Mountain Biking,Snowshoeing - Trail Length: 5.6
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Savoy Mountain State Forest was created in 1918 with the purchase of 1,000 acres of farmland. Hike through old farmland reforested in the 1930s. The big reward is Tannery Falls, a 100-foot cascading waterfall. Return along pristine Ross Brook and take an optional side trip to Balanced Rock. The Tannery Trail starts on the left and heads northeast from where Tannery Road meets New State Road. The Tannery Trail is an old jeep trail closed to all motorized vehicles except snowmobiles in winter. Unfortunately, some ATV riders break the rule. The Tannery Trail is not well maintained so expect downed trees and wet areas that you will need to navigate carefully.
Adams, MA - Hiking,Mountain Biking,Snowshoeing - Trail Length: 4.7
This short hike is just minutes from downtown North Adams and Williamstown. The Cascades, sometimes referred to as North Brook Falls, are a favorite cool-off spot for the locals, and one of the northern Berkshires’ best waterfalls. The North Brook drops over 1,000 feet in 3 miles on its way to the 40-foot cascading falls. The trail is heavily used but not maintained well; expect to navigate over and around fallen trees. The trail crosses the North Brook on a secure wooden bridge strong enough to hold up to the rushing winter meltwater. The brook makes its start about 3 miles away in a gorge between Ragged Mountain and Mount Greylock.
North Adams, MA - Hiking,Trail Running - Trail Length: 1.5
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Mohawk Trail State Forest’s 6,800 acres are some of the most scenic woodlands in all of the state. Deep gorges between tall mountains make for some breathtaking scenery. This quick out-and-back takes you to a vista on an unnamed peak that offers great views to the east. The trailhead is on the right, just beyond the Pioneer Valley sign. Start the hike at the Mohawk Trail State Forest Monument. Literally just feet after the start of the trail, the Totem Trail turns to the left below the small brown pump house and quickly crosses over two intermittent streams that run side by side. The trail then begins a switchbacking climb through a great second-growth hardwood forest, following blue trail markers. Some of this area was logged in the 1930s, and in the years since has made a great recovery. The trail flattens out as you continue on the path carved into the hillside, crossing over a couple of intermittent steams that only flow with the winter melt and in times of very heavy rain.
Charlemont, MA - Cross-Country Skiing,Hiking,Snowshoeing - Trail Length: 2.2
Hike around a defunct reservoir–turned-marsh. Zigzag around Washington Mountain Marsh on hundreds of feet of plank walkways and wooden bridges; pass within feet of active beaver dams, and see fine examples of the huts in which beavers live. October Mountain State Forest is Massachusetts’s largest state forest at 16,500 acres. Almost every topographic map shows this body of water as Washington Mountain Lake. The strange thing is that this was never a lake. A leaky dam in a failed flood-control project prevented the lake from ever being formed, resulting in the marsh that exists today.
Becket, MA - Hiking - Trail Length: 3.1
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