Great Outdoors: Hit the Trails

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Enjoy postcard-perfect views this summer at one of the many outdoor trails, parks and forests that make the shires of Vermont and the Berkshires so darn beautiful. Take a stroll with the family to stretch your legs, or pack a lunch and make a day of it — but whatever you do, just get outdoors and enjoy some fresh air.

Appalachian Trail: Appalachian Trail runs north and south throughout the Berkshire region in western Massachusetts, through Department of Conservation and Recreation properties: Clarksburg State Forest, October Mountain State Forest, Mount Greylock State Reservation, Ashuwillticook Rail Trail, Beartown State Forest, Jug End State Reservation, Mount Washington State Forest and Mount Everett State Reservation. mass.gov/dcr

Arrowhead: Trails on the grounds, woods and fields around Herman Melville's historic house. 780 Holmes Road, Pittsfield, 413-442-1793

Ashintully Gardens: Grounds of Berkshire Cottage estate, trails and gardens open 1 to 5 p.m. Wednesdays and Saturdays, June 1 to Oct. 8. Hike to the ruins of the former mansion or explore the landscaped paths and water ways created over the course of decades by John McLennan, a composer of modern music. Free. Soden Road, Tyringham, Trustees of Reservations.

Ashuwillticook Rail Trail: Flat, paved trail from Cheshire to Adams, following the old railway line along Cheshire Lake and Route 8. Converted railroad corridor now a paved path running 11.2 miles from Adams to Lanesborough. Access at Visitors Center in downtown Adams, Cheshire Lake on Route 8, near the Berkshire Mall in Lanesborough or along the route. 413-442-8928

Bartholomew's Cobble: River and unique wood and meadow habitat with bald eagles, turtles and abundant wildlife: 800 species of plants and one of North America's greatest diversities of ferns. Hikes and nature programs. Open year-round, daily, sunrise to sunset; museum and visitors center open year-round, daily, 9 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. Trustees of Reservations, 105 Weatogue Road, Sheffield. 413-229-8600.

Beartown State Forest: 1.5 mile Benedict Pond Loop Trail open year-round. From Route 23 in Monterey, turn left on Blue Hill Road, then follow signs. mass.gov/dcr or (413) 528-0904

Bear Swamp: Three miles of trails with moderate hiking, strenuous in places. From the intersection of Route 112, Route 116, and Hawley Road in Ashfield, follow Hawley Road to entrance on left. 413-625-2849

Becket Land Trust: Becket historic quarry and trails. Quarry Museum and self-guided tour of nature preserve and 100 years of history. Becket Historic Quarry permanent exhibit now open at Mullen House Education Center. Trails open in daylight hours year round. Quarry off Route 20, 456 Quarry Road, Becket. Mullen House off-site exhibits and office at 12 Brooker Hill Road (corner Route 8), North Becket Village.becketlandtrust.org. 413-623-2100

Berkshire Botanical Garden: 26 display areas including perennials, thousands of annuals, rock, rose, pond, children's and native plant gardens. Three greenhouses, an arboretum and a woodland preserve. Open daily 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. May 1 through Columbus Day, Route 183 and Route 102, Stockbridge. 413-298-3926, berkshirebotanical.org.

Berkshire Natural Resources Council: Trails and properties maintained by nonprofit land conservation organization to protect farms, forests, streams and ridgelines. Weekly guided hikes. Bnrc.net, 413-499-0596

Bryant Homestead: From 1865 until his death in 1878, William Cullen Bryant summered here at his boyhood home, now a National Historic Landmark. A self-guided map highlights the 2-mile Rivulet Trail, where old growth including ancient hemlock and a magnificent cherry tree rise near the Rivulet, a trickling stream immortalized by Bryant's 1823 poem. House open for scheduled events; grounds open year-round for hiking, picnics and sight-seeing. 207 Bryant Road, Cummington, 413-634-2244, bryanthomestead@ttor.org

Chesterfield Gorge: A dramatic rock canyon first carved by centuries of glacial melt water and the Westfield River, the gorge is the gateway to the East Branch Trail. Open during the warm season, daily, from sunrise to sundown, for hiking, picnicking, mountain biking, anglers. River Road, Chesterfield.

Field Farm: A 1967 post-modern guest house designed by Ulrich Franzen for art collector Lawrence Bloedel. Tours compare architectural philosophies, noon and 1 p.m. second and fourth Saturdays through September. Trails and grounds open daily, free. 554 Sloan Road, Williamstown, 413-458-3135, thetrustees.org.

Garden Conservancy: Garden tours through the summer in Connecticut, Massachusetts, New York, Vermont. No reservations; rain or shine. For times and places: 888-842-2442 or opendaysprogram.org.

Glendale Falls: A quarter-mile trail to the falls and a wood road to land owned by the Massachusetts Division of Fish & Wildlife. From intersection of Routes 143 and 112 in Worthington, take Route 143 West to River Road. Turn right onto Clark Wright Road to entrance. thetrustees.org or (413) 532-1631

Great Barrington River Walk: Native landscaped path along the Housatonic River in downtown Great Barrington; entrances at 195 Main St., River Street, Bridge Street and Dresser Ave. W.E.B. Du Bois River Garden Park. William Stanley Overlook. Laboratory for natural resource progection and stewardship. Open in daylight hours, free. 413-528-3391, gbriverwalk.com.

Hoffmann Bird Club: Birding expeditions across Berkshire County and the region, weekly. hoffmannbirdclub.org.

Hopkins Forest: Trails maintained by Williams College in Williamstown and along the Taconic crest. Trail heads on Northwest Hill Road in Williamstown and on Route 2 in Petersburgh, N.Y.. Spring and fall festivals with canopy walk, demonstrations, games, local food and live music. www.williams.edu/CES/hopkins.htm

Hoosic River Watershed Assoc.: Tours: Second Saturday, May to Oct. Self-guided brochures for this river walk are available at tourist information outlets in Adams, North Adams, and Williamstown. Information: HoosicRiverRevival.org or 413-458-2742

Housatonic Heritage Area: Trails and historic sites along the river from Connecticut to Berkshire County. heritage-hikes.org.

Housatonic Valley Assocation: Paddle trips on the Housatonic River. hvatoday.org

Jug End State Reservation: Two-mile Jug End Loop Trail through open fields, northern hardwood and Eastern Hemlock woodlands. From Route 41 in south Egremont, take a right onto Mount Washington Road and to Jug End Road, to entrance. mass.gov/dcr or (413) 528-0330

McLennan Reservation: 1.5 moderate miles. From Tyringham center, take Tyringham Main Road south. Turn left onto Fenn Road (dirt road). Park at the roadside and walk to entrance. thetrustees.org, 413-298-3239.

Merck Forest and Farmland Center: 3,100-acre property open to the public daily, free. Working farm, draft horses, sugar shack, 30 miles of trails for hiking and horseback riding. Visitors center open 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. daily. Rupert, Vt. merckforest.org, 802-394-7836

Monument Mountain: Moderate loop trails and beautiful views at the top. Admission is free. Route 7, Great Barrington. Trustees of Reservations

Mount Equinox: Fourteen trails ranging from an easy Pond Loop to a 1.8-mile Mountain Bluff Trail maintained by the Equinox Preservation Trust. Route 7A, Manchester, Vt. equinoxpreservationtrust.org or (802) 366-1400

Mount Greylock State Reservation: Trails and entrances in Williamstown, North Adams, Adams and Lanesborough, open through mid-October. Hiking access to the Appalachian Trail, Scenic Byway, Veterans War Memorial, Bascom Lodge and breathtaking views. Auto road to summit. Visitors centers at 30 Rockwell Road in Lanesborough and 115 State St. in North Adams (Gateway Heritage State Park). 413-499-4262

Mountain Meadow: Wild meadows at the homesite of Grace Greylock Liles, the woman who wrote "Bog-Trotting for Orchids" a century ago. Entrances on Benedict Road in Pownal, Vt., and Mason Street in Willliamstown. Free. Trustees of Reservations. 413-458-3135.

Mount Washington State Forest: Thirty miles of trails over rugged terrain, wilderness camping. Hike the South Taconic Trail to the 2,250-foot summit of Alander Mountain for amazing views. From Route 41 in South Egremont, take a quick right onto Mount Washington Road and follow to park entrance. mass.gov/dcr or (413) 528-0330.

Natural Bridge: Geological phenomenon, arch carved by water into 550-million-year-old bedrock marble in 48-acre park. Follow Route 8 north from North Adams to entrance. Open 9 a.m. to 5 p.m., Memorial Day to Columbus Day, (413) 663-6392, Massachusetts DCR.

Notchview Reservation: Twenty-five miles of trails, historic hayfields and pastures, stone walls and cellar holes. Open from sunup to sundown, daily, year round. Visitor Center with picnic area and rest rooms. 83 Old Route 9, Windsor. 413-684-0148.

October Mountain State Forest: Scenic trails leads including Schermerhorn Gorge, which has intrigued generations of geologists. mass.gov/dcr or 413-243-1778

One World Conservation Center: Trails, periodic walks and workshops, programs for children and adults. 413 Route 7, Bennington, Vt. http://oneworldconservationcenter.org, 802-447-7419

Onota Lake: Lifeguards on duty at the public beach periodically in summer, check at cityofpittsfield.org

Pleasant Valley Sanctuary: Trails, boardwalk, canoe trips and nature programs weekly. 472 West Mountain Road, Lenox. Berkshire Sanctuaries, 413-637-0320, www.massaudubon.org.

Pine Cobble Trail: 2.1 miles of moderate to strenuous hiking through oak forest interspersed with white pines, expanse of 600-million-year-old gray Cheshire quartzite cliffs overlooking most of Northern Berkshire County from an elevation of 2,100 feet. Trail begins 0.1 miles north of North Hoosac Road on Pine Cobble Road in Williamstown. woc.williams.edu/pine-cobble-trail-2/

Project Native: Butterfly house open 10:30 a.m. to 4 p.m. daily through end of season, and bug safaris in the meadow. Native plant nursery and restorer of habitat maintains meadow and woodland trails around seed beds for wild plants. Trails open dawn to dusk. 342 North Plain Road, Route 41, Housatonic, 413-274-3433, projectnative.org

Springside Park: Trails across 237 acres of woods and meadows. Master Gardeners workshops select Saturday mornings. Master Gardeners often at work in the demo behind Springside House gardens before "Tuesday Night in the Park" music series. Springside Park, upper North Street, Pittsfield. Gardeners: 413-743-5193. Park: (413) 347-3812.

Strobridge Recreation Complex: 735 acres of forest land, including 2,000 feet of frontage on the Hoosic River, for hiking, fishing and paddling. Off Route 346 in North Pownal, Vt., 802-823-7757, hoorwa.org.

Tamarack Hollow: Highland valley nature and cultural center in boreal forest. Hikes on the property and in neighboring conservation lands in Windsor and Savoy with naturalist Aimee Gelinas. 1515 Savoy Hollow Road, Windsor. 413-584-3009, tamarackhollow.com.

Tyringham Cobble: Walk through mountain meadows and up hillside trails to watch for bobolinks. Jerusalem Road, Tyringham. Trustees of Reservations.

Vermont Summer Festival Horse Show: Celebrating its 22nd year as Vermont's premier hunter/jumper competition, six week show with Olympic equestrians, July 5 to Aug. 14, on the Beebe Farm in East Dorset, Vt.

Vermont Challenge: Bicycle tour for all levels in Southern and Central Vermont, Aug. 11 to 14. Gran, Medio & Piccolo Fondo, only mountain resort-top Gran Fondo finish east of the Continental Divide

Williamstown Rural Lands: Fields and trails on Sheep Hill at a former dairy farm, summer hikes and children's programs. Route 7, Cold Spring Road, Williamstown.

Woodford State Park: Hiking trails including 2.7-mile trail around the lake. Follow Route 9 east from Bennington to Woodford, Vt. 802-447-7169, vtstateparks.com


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