On Black Friday, patrons ditch shopping bags for hiking trails in the Berkshires


Photo Gallery | Black Friday Hike through Savoy Mountain State Forest

Photo Gallery | Black Friday hike at Mount Greylock

SAVOY — No stampedes. No fighting over children's toys. No deceptive marketing. No lines.

Some folks would rather walk through the woods than race through the aisles on Black Friday, and many of them were spotted meandering throughout our own Berkshire forests.

Inspired by a growing national trend to enjoy the day after Thanksgiving outdoors than in stores, many nature reserves offered incentives like guided hikes, free admission and parking to get people out in the fresh air.

Gov. Charlie Baker's administration waived all entrance and parking fees to state parks and forests from Thursday through Sunday.

"With the holiday season fast approaching, it is essential that we all take time out of our busy schedules to get outside and remain active as part of a healthy lifestyle," said DCR Acting Commissioner Daniel Sieger.

At the Savoy Mountain State Forest, Deanna Todd, the west region interpretive coordinator for the Massachusetts Department of Conservation and Recreation, led a hike to the shore of South Pond and back for a modest-sized group of visitors.

There was also a three-hour hike offered by visitor services supervisor Jude Stull through the Mount Greylock State Reservation.

In Savoy, hikers rambled through leaf-covered trails, over hills, through a few small bogs, and along the shore of South Pond under partly sunny skies and spring-like temperatures in the upper 50s.

Clarence Kissel, a 7-year-old big black dog, kept himself busy making sure none of the group wandered off, and tasting the cool waters of South Pond. And if the group stopped for too long, Clarence reminded them that they were there to hike, not chit-chat.

Clarence's friend, Sam Kissel, of Savoy, was there with his partner, Sandy Hughes.

Sam Kissel does plenty of hiking, and guides a few hikes now and again.

"Today, I preferred a guided hike for a change," he said.

"We love going outdoors, and it makes Clarence happy too," noted Hughes.

Meanwhile at the base of Mount Greylock, another group spent their Black Friday traipsing through the trees.

John Philp, of Pittsfield, brought his two children on the trek.

"I'd heard about it from the guide who happens to be a friend of mine," he said. "And I wanted to join in because it's a beautiful day for a hike."

A large corporate effort to divert people outdoors was led by outdoor clothing and product retailer R.E.I., which closed all of its 143 stores Friday to give its employees a paid holiday to be in nature. R.E.I. encouraged its patrons to do the same and share their outdoor photos through its "#OptOutside" social media campaign. More than 150 properties across the Trustees of Reservations and Mass Audubon sites in the Berkshires and beyond also supported the #OptOutside campaign with waived admission and parking fees.

Philp said the group of hikers he walked with spent some of their time contemplating the scene others were facing in the midst of the Black Friday shopping blitz.

"We were feeling glad to not be waiting in line at a cash register, but in the woods instead," he said. "Not that there's anything wrong with wanting to get a good deal on Christmas gifts. But I think being out in the open air brings out the best in folks."

Contact Scott Stafford at 413-496-6301.

Photo Gallery | PHOTOS: Black Friday Hike through Savoy Mountain State Forest

Photo Gallery | PHOTOS: Black Friday hike at Mount Greylock


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