Stevens woods

Many young trees fill in where chestnut stood before the blight.

How do I love thee? Let me count the ... steps. That is, the many new steps that have been installed on the trails in Stevens Glen.

Snow and ice do not necessarily signal the end of walking season, especially for those who are reasonably fit. Poles help, of course, but for even more security, purchase a set of micro spikes. They fit over the soles of your boots and grab much the way chains did on automobile tires. Hands up if you remember putting chains on your automobile. Snow and ice are apt to linger longer in Stevens Glen, so layer up and come prepared.

Stevens cascade

Lenox Mountain Brook cascades deep below the overlook at Stevens Glen.

I don’t claim to be related to farmer Romanza Stevens, who once charged visitors 25 cents to visit the secluded, narrow valley with its lengthy cascade on his property. Sensing the possibilities, he then built a dance pavilion that attracted 900 visitors one evening in 1913. Although dancing is optional, you can visit this romantic site for free, thanks to the generosity of the Pryor brothers, who donated it to the Berkshire Natural Resources Council in 1995.

BNRC, the Student Conservation Association and volunteers last year undid extensive storm damage that had destroyed a bridge and one of the trail loops. While they were at it, they improved the trails by rerouting and adding steps made of gravel packed in wooden boxes.

To get to the 1.2-mile, steep hike from most of Berkshire County, take Route 183 west from Lenox center, as though heading to Tanglewood. Where 183 veers left, turn right by the Apple Tree Inn on Richmond Mountain Road and, after the climb, left on Lenox Branch Road. The trailhead and small parking area, duly signed, are on the right as you descend. (Additional parking farther downhill.)

A few steps down the trail leads to a kiosk and a choice, whether to follow the loop clockwise or counterclockwise. Choose left, beneath a Christmas tree plantation. All the chestnut trees were removed in 1924 in deference to the blight. As you proceed downhill, you enter a forest of pines and hardwood that has grown back in. Fortunately, pines grow quickly. Cross under utility lines.

You approach the new, fiberglass bridge on a set of new steps. Just across the bridge, a set of steps goes straight and down, while another set turns left and up (the trail maps may not show the rerouting). Save the one going straight for your return. Take the one going left on the trail to the lookout.

Stevens steps

New steps ease all ways from the new bridge.

Some of the pines are over 100-feet high, which happens to be just about when they start looking unusually tall. The view of Lenox Mountain Brook from the next bridge is striking enough but continue climbing steeply under the stately pine until you climb down by metal stairs to the platform, your vertiginous views safely secured by railings. The brook is tucked deep into the rocky crevice.

You climb from the lookout and descend via the trail on which you arrived, until you reach the first bridge — which you do not cross. Instead, turn left on the new steps. Still beneath large pines you soon come across a bench angled to look down the Lenox Mountain Brook valley. The trail swings to the right, underneath those same utility wires and returns you to the kiosk.

So, a romantic spot. Nearly in the words of Elizabeth Barrett Browning, “How do I love thee? Let me count the ways.” Let me count the steps. Happy trails to you.

Lauren R. Stevens is author of “50 Hikes in the Berkshire Hills,” Countryman Press/W.W. Norton, 2016.