Warmer weather is working its way into our lives. You've got the basket and blanket packed, but where to take the picnic?
Around or atop Mount Greylock and the surrounding state reservation is one of the most recommended spots I've heard from folks, through conversations and online so cial networks.
"The top of Mount Grey lock is just beautiful," Jim McGrath, manager for Pitts field Park, Open Space and Natural Resource Pro gram told The Eagle.
McGrath said he'll throw a blanket down and eat with company anywhere he can.
Wherever you choose to explore, it's best to be prepared.
I've always got a blanket and towels in my car. Towels are great for sitting on, cleaning up spills and drying off, should you decide to take a spontaneous dip in a lake or get caught in a rain storm. Whatever you pack for food, be sure to bring an extra bag and bring out your trash, and better yet, pick up others' trash to help preserve the pristine trails and grassy patches we know and love in the Berkshires.
The last picnic I had like this was back in March at the Cobbles, by the Appalachian Trail in Cheshire. With backpacks full of water, mugs of tea, fresh fruit and granola, we hiked from a small parking area off of Notch Road and through a clearly marked trail in the woods. It's not too dense to bushwhack: Keep looking up at the rocks and make your way up. You'll pass water views and climb some steeper hills. You'll know you've neared the top when you reach a stone staircase.
From there, you'll find a few nice spots on the ledge near the top, where you can look out onto the towns below, and nearby ridges. There are no trash cans here, so we used our fruit bags to carry peels, containers and some other people's litter we found back down.
It's helpful to have road and trail maps.
Online searches can lead to many local outdoor blogs, and directions to trails, but printed maps are also great because even if you're driving, you can look and see that there's a mountain or a lake or a park nearby, which can be easily turned into a picnic stop.
Local outdoors and sporting goods shops, like the Arcadian Shop in Lenox or EMS at the Berkshire Mall, have staff who can show you guidebooks and even schedule classes and outings. Local libraries are helpful with this too.
But your best sources are people from around town. I like doing things the old fashioned way, like popping into a local restaurant or town hall, and asking the staff where to go. Not only can they tell you directions -- I've often found they'll give you the low down on the best way to get there, where to park, and where to find a picnic table or soft grassy spot.
For example, Jim Wolfe in North Adams tipped me off about getting to Stony Ledge on Mount Greylock, either the easy route from the parking area on Rockwell Road or the strenuous routes by the Hopper, Roaring Brook or Haley Farm trails. Some trail heads and also the mountain's visitors center offer maps. But thanks to Wolfe, I've learned that the spot has picnic tables, fire pits and even outhouses.
A picnic is where you make it, you can make it better by asking neighbors where they know best.
Eagle readers recommended picnicking places on Mount Greylock including the Jones' Nose Trail, the roughly two-mile hike to Stony Ledge, and the Greylock Glen area in Adams.
Amber Wroblewski of Pitts field echoed praise for Mount Greylock, via Facebook.
"My husband and I pack up the saddle bags on the motorcycle and take a nice long ride, find a nice spot, and have a picnic or just a snack," she said.
Still up north, other recommendations include the picnic tables along the walking path by Cheshire Lake, and Wind sor Lake in North Adams.
In Pittsfield, readers suggest Springside Park and the He bert Arboretum, Onota Lake and Pontoosac Lake.
Bernie Klem of Dalton's favorite spot is Windsor Jambs. Part of the Windsor State Forest, it's known for its cascading waterfall, with swim ming, picnic and camp sites. Klem describes it as, "Quiet. Off the beaten path."
Other readers recommended picnic spots in southern Berk shire County: Olivia's Over look and Kennedy Park in Len ox and the banks of the Green River in Great Barrington.
Wroblewski-Frederick also mentioned the children's park in the Inter laken village of Stock bridge, near the IS183 Art School of the Berkshires.
"So peaceful, surrounded by two rivers and play equipment," she wrote, "and one of the very few parks left with a merry-go-round."
Jenn's favorite spots ...
- Bash Bish Falls, Mount Washington: Gorgeous waterfalls and a cool climate in the summer.
- Fountain Pond State Park, Great Barrington: The area has just a few picnic tables by the roadside, but the lily pads, when they are in bloom, are hypnotic.
- Chesterwood, Stockbridge: Beautiful historic gardens steeped in art and history.
- Becket Land Trust: Historic Quarry and Forest Preserve: Unusual rock formations and self-guided trail tours available. No formal picnic area, but worth the visit.
- Cheshire Cobbles: An intimate and easy going hike with a stunning view. Tad Ames of Berkshire Natural Resources Council once called it a ‘romantic picnic spot' in Berkshire Living magazine. But remember to take your memories and your trash with you.