It's still August, but it certainly doesn't feel like it. For some reason, the weather Gods have decided an early fall is in our future, and I feel we should embrace it.
While most of the cultural events are wrapping up their seasons, we're still blessed with another reason to live in the Berkshires -- the natural beauty that surrounds us. I thoroughly enjoy a nice kayaking/paddle board session on Onota or Cheshire Lake, or kayaking down the Housatonic River. But anyone who follows me on Facebook or Instagram knows that those hundreds of pictures of the woods I post (guilty!) represent my true love -- hiking.
What can I say? Entering the woods is my mental, emotional and physical therapy. My daily activity is hiking. It exhausts my dogs and it allows my brain and body the rest it needs. I'm lucky that I live and can access the Appalachian Trail whenever I want. And it suits me well for my daily treks, but several times a week I seek out a change of woodsy scenery.
I really love the North Adams side of Pine Cobble. Located off Massachusetts Avenue in North Adams, this trail is ideal for early risers who want to catch the sunrise. Grab a head lamp and a good pair of hiking boots and know that this hike will take about an hour up. At the top, I promise spectacular views of North Adams and Williamstown.
Some local mellow hiking spots have become a little too crowded for me, but one place I've discovered that is still relatively under-utilized is the Lulu Brook Trail in Pittsfield State Forrest.
If you're in South County and want a family friendly hike, check out Monument Mountain. The trek up takes a little leg work. It's a little over a half hour to the top, but the views of the Berkshire, Taconic and Housatonic River Valley are totally worth it.
Heading back up to North County, you'll encounter my favorite place to spend the day, Mount Greylock. I'm hopeful that nothing will contribute to my demise in the near future, but should an accident occur, I've made a full declaration that my ashes are to be spread on top of that mountain. The highest peak in Massachusetts holds a special place in my heart.
Two of my favorite trails are on either side of Greylock. Located off Haley Farm Trail head, on Hopper Road in Williamstown is the Money Brook and Hopper trails. These are intermediate trails, but they end with a view where three smaller mountains all meet. In the fall, it's almost too beautiful. On the other side of the mountain is my favorite trail in all of Massachusetts -- the Thunderbolt Ski Trail. This is the shortest, but most intense way to scale Greylock. Not for the faint of heart, you will be crawling up and down certain parts of this mountain. I would recommend this hike only if you're really feeling confident in your hiking skills.
And no matter which trail, or reason, you take to the summit, the view all the way to Connecticut will remind you that you made it to the top and beauty is the reward.
An added bonus, Racheal Plaine teaches a yoga class on top of Greylock the first Sunday of the month, June through September. It's an all-levels class and holding tree pose while watching clouds whiz by is something everyone should experience at least once. She's still got one session left, Sept. 7 at 4:30 p.m. Come get your Ommm on with me. For more info check out the Facebook page at www.facebook.com/events/620182711411816/.