We love the arrival of spring in the Berkshires and as the season moves towards summer we welcome the bright greens of our landscape, the warming waters of our lakes and the warm glow of the sun. Laced with hiking trails, scenic overlooks, and verdant fields, there is no better place to welcome the seasons.
Venture outdoors to watch the greening and blossoming of the foliage at one of the myriad forests and parks, with a leisurely stroll or the bracing up-and-down of a challenging hiking trail. The breathtaking and dramatic Bash Bish Falls in Mount Washington are an oft-visited landmark and the highest waterfalls in Massachusetts; a little further north in Tyringham, the enchanting Ashintully Gardens, a property of the Trustees of Reservations, offer a lovely scenic walk through a magnificent terraced landscape.
Between Lanesborough and Adams, the Ashuwillticook Rail Trail is an eleven-mile stretch of paved pathway ideal for walking, jogging, biking, or skating, along with a former rail bed, nestled against the shore of the Cheshire Reservoir. Be sure to make time to drive to the summit of Mount Greylock, the highest peak in the state, accessed from Routes 7 and 8. Pack a picnic lunch and blanket, and while you’re there, why not explore ancient Native American trails or climb the Memorial Tower.
Dedicated birdwatchers grab your Wellies and binoculars and visit the Massachusetts Audubon Society’s Pleasant Valley Wildlife Sanctuary, boasting seven miles of trails, including a universal access trail, on their 1,142-acre tract in Lenox. Also great for bird watching is Berkshire Natural Resource Council‘s Olivia’s Overlook and Mass Audubon’s Canoe Meadows.
In the nineteenth century, the era dubbed the Gilded Age, the natural beauty of the Berkshires attracted city dwellers for idyllic vacations among the lakes and hills, just as it does today, and many wealthy visitors built mansions and villas they called “cottages” as seasonal retreats. The Mount, the one-time Lenox home of Pulitzer Prize-winning novelist Edith Wharton, is one such “cottage,” now beautifully restored and operated as a historic house museum.
Ventfort Hall, also in Lenox, was built by the Morgan family and is now open to the public. Also take some time to explore the house, studio and gardens of Daniel Chester French at Chesterwood. A number of other Berkshire “cottages” have been meticulously renovated and are in use as private homes or as sumptuous B&Bs, where the luxurious surroundings of a by-gone era can be enjoyed along with up-to-date amenities. Choose an inn that was once part of a sprawling estate, set in the midst of woods and fields, or select one with an in-town location, walking distance to shopping and restaurants.
In a season of renewal and rejuvenation, many opt for a spa visit or restful, healing retreat. The Kripalu Center for Yoga and Health is a leader in yoga training, offering programs for beginners and novices as well as advanced practitioners. Rejuvenate at Canyon Ranch in Lenox, where an array of health and wellness programs are offered in the elegant Bellefontaine Mansion. Or book a visit to a spa that focuses on relaxation, meditation, or just a luxurious vacation. In the Berkshires, there is a resort or retreat for every budget and every level of health.
As the days lengthen and warm in the Berkshires rediscover the beauty of the hills and valleys. Hike a portion of the Appalachian Trail or enjoy a shopping trip to downtown Great Barrington or Spring Street in Williamstown; learn to fly fish in a tumbling stream, take a yoga class in one of the many studios that dot the area, or enjoy a healthful meal of tender spring greens in a delicious salad of local produce. Embrace the change of seasons!