Outdoor explorations in the Berkshires and Southern Vermont
Appalachian Mountain Club
Volunteer work days through August on the Appalachian Trail in the Berkshires. amcberkshire.org
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
Trails on the grounds, woods and fields around Herman Melville's historic house. 780 Holmes Road, Pittsfield.
Opens Wednesdays and Saturdays, 1 to 5 p.m., to early October. Yoga in the Garden Wednesdays and Saturdays, noon to 1 p.m. 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. (413) 298-3239
Step inside this anchor site on the African American Heritage trail and participate in the story of the Ashley family and Elizabeth Freeman, the enslaved woman who took a stand against slavery. New outdoor exhibit in the on Freeman's life and legacy. Cooper Hill Road, Ashley Falls section of Sheffield, near Bartholomew's Cobble. (413) 229-8600. Trustees of Reservations, www.thetrustees.org.
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 or mass.gov/dcr/parks/western/asrt.htm.
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. Housatonic River guided canoe trips Sundays, through Sept. 28; reservations (413) 229-8600 Open year-round, daily, sunrise to sunset; museum and visitors center open year-round, daily, 9 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. Eco Volunteers meet 9 a.m. to noon Thursdays beginning in May. Weatogue Road, Sheffield. Trustees of Reservations, (413) 229-8600, firstname.lastname@example.org.
Beartown State Forest
1.5 mile Benedict Pond Loop Trail open year-round. From Route 23 in Monterey, turn left onto Blue Hill Road, then follow signs. mass.gov/dcr or (413) 528-0904
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. mass.gov/dcr or (413) 664-8345
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. (413) 623-2100, www.becketlandtrust.org.
Berkshire Botanical Garden
26 display areas including perennial borders, mixed borders of thousands of annuals, a rock garden, rose garden, pond garden, children's garden and native plant gardens. Three greenhouses, an arboretum and a woodland preserve. Open daily 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. through Columbus Day with tours Wednesday, Friday and Saturday, through Sept. 1 at 10 a.m. Route 183 and Route 102, Stockbridge. (413) 298-3926, www.berkshire botanical.org.
Berkshire Natural Resources Council
Trails and properties maintained by nonprofit land conservation organization works throughout the Berkshires to protect farms, forests, streams, and ridgelines. Weekly guided hikes. bnrc.net
From 1865 until his death in 1878, William Cullen Bryant summered here at his boyhood home, today a National Historic Landmark. A self-guided map highlights the 2-mile Rivulet Trail, where old growth, including ancient specimens of hemlock and a magnificent cherry tree, rise near the Rivulet, a trickling stream immortalized by Bryant's 1823 poem. Free. Grounds open year-round for hiking, picnics and sight-seeing.
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. (413) 532-1631.
A 1967 post-modern guest house designed by Ulrich Franzen for art collector Lawrence Bloedel and bauhaus building. Tours compare architectural philosophies, noon and 1 p.m. Saturdays, through September. Trails and grounds open daily, free. 554 Sloan Road, Williamstown, www.thetrustees.org, (413) 458-3135.
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.
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. Volunteer days Thursdays and Fridays, 3:30 to 6:30 p.m., Saturdays 8 a.m. to noon. Open spring, summer and fall in daylight hours. www.gbriverwalk.com. (413) 528-3391.
Hoffmann Bird Club
Birding expeditions across Berkshire County and the region, weekly. hoffmannbirdclub.org.
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, (413) 597-4353.
Hoosic River Watershed Association
Nonprofit citizens group dedicated to restoring and conserving the river holds Hoosic River Ride in August. Information on paddling access and hikes: (413) 458-2742 or hoorwa.org.
Housatonic Heritage Area
Trails and historic sites along the river from Connecticut to central Berkshire County. Summer and fall hikes at heritage-hikes.org.
Housatonic Valley Association
Paddle trips on the Housatinic River. hvatoday.org
Jug End State Reservation
2-mile Jug End Loop Trail through open fields, northern hardwood and Eastern Hemlock woodlands. From Route 41 in south Egremont, take a quick right onto Mount Washington Road and to Jug End Road, to entrance. mass.gov/dcr or (413) 528-0330
1.5 miles of moderate hiking. From Tyringham center, take Tyringham Main Road south. Turn left onto Fenn Road (dirt road). Park along the roadside and walk to entrance. thetrustees.org, (413) 298-3239.
Merck Forest and Farmland
3,100-acre property open to the public daily, free. Spend time on the working farm, 30 miles of trails for hiking and horseback riding. Cabins and camping year-round. Family fun farm chores 2 to 4 p.m. Saturdays through June 14, Thursdays through Sept. 6: Visitors can join Merck Forest's staff for afternoon on the farm, peek in the nest boxes to look for eggs, feed pigs or water sheep, move horses to pasture. You-Pick berries, raspberries or blueberries, daily 8 a.m. to 2 p.m., through August (check to make sure berries are in season). Rupert, Vt. merckforest.org
Moderate loop trails and beautiful views at the top. Admission is free. Route 7, Great Barrington. Trustees of Reservations, (413) 298-3239, ext. 3020.
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) 362-4374
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, mass.gov/dcr/parks/western/mgry.htm.
Wild meadows at the homesite of 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.
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. seasonally through Columbus Day. (413) 663-6392, Massachusetts DCR.
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. Tuesday Trail Team, 9 a.m. to 12:30 p.m.: small group working on repairs to Windsor Trail. Second and fourth Tuesdays, through October. 83 Old Route 9, Windsor. (413) 684-0148.
Lifeguards on duty at the public beach, Wednesdays through Sundays, through Aug. 17, 10 a.m. to 5 p.m.
October Mountain State Forest
Scenic trails leads including Schermerhorn Gorge, which has intrigued generations of geologists. mass.gov/dcr or (413) 243-1778, (413) 499-9370.
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. wrlf.org
Butterfly house open 10:30 a.m. to 4 p.m. daily through end of season, and bug safaris. Native plant nursery and restorer of habitat maintains meadow and woodland trails around seed beds for wild plants. Trails open dawn to dusk year-round. 342 North Plain Road, Route 41, Housatonic, projectnative.org or (413) 274-3433.
Trails across 237 acres of woods and meadows. Master Gardeners workshops select Saturday mornings. Master Gardeners at work in the demo behind Springside House, gardens before "Tuesday Night in the Park" music series. Attend the concerts, tour the gardens and ask gardening questions. 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.
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
Walk through mountain meadows and up hillside trails to watch for bobolinks. Jerusalem Road, Tyringham. Trustees of Reservations.
Vermont Horse Show
Annual horse show through Aug. 10, Tuesday through Sunday, 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. $30,000 Grand Prix every Saturday at 1 $50,000 on Aug. 9. Benefits local nonprofits. vt-summerfestival.com
The Vermont Challenge
Aug. 13-17. Bicycle challenge, routes traveling along rivers, picturesque landscapes, farmland and mountain gaps. 4-day Grand Challenge, 3-day Weekend Challenge, 1-day Gran Fondo Challenge. www.vtchallenge.com
Williamstown Rural Lands
Fields and trails on Sheep Hill at former dairy farm, children's programs and summer hikes. 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. vtstateparks.com or (802) 447-7169