While so much of our current environment feels uncertain and tense, and our online lives ping with one alarming notification after another, one reassuring constant remains – the beautiful natural resources of the outdoors. It’s a well-accepted idea that nature calms and heals. Breathing fresh air, gazing at a clear blue sky or one studded with stars, feeling sunshine on your skin, moving your body through green spaces – all of it can still the mind and brighten the spirit. So get up and get moving but before you do here is some outdoor inspiration from the Berkshires that we hope you will enjoy when you can safely visit our lovely region.
Grab your bike, scooter, or rollerblades and zip along the Ashuwillticook Rail Trail’s 12.7 miles of paved walkway. Stretching along the Cheshire Reservoir and Hoosic River, from Cheshire to Adams, the Rail Trail offers access to beautiful scenery, wildlife viewing, and fishing. Visit anytime between dawn and dusk, and consider packing a picnic – tables, restrooms and free parking are available at specific locations. One detail to note, if you visit this spring, the south entrance to the Trail will be closed for resurfacing.
In northern Berkshire County, cyclists can explore Bike Berkshire North, a collection of trails spanning between Mount Greylock in Adams to rolling hills of Western New York and farmland of southern Vermont. Riders can choose their preferred level of difficulty on paved, mountain, and organized rides, during which they are sure to view mountain peaks, lush valleys, covered bridges, bodies of water, and more. Enrich your experience with a plan to hike or swim (once it’s warm) during your ride, or explore the grounds of The Clark in Williamstown. Get a takeout lunch or dinner at one of the plentiful options on 1Berkshire’s restaurant list.
For nature lovers who prefer to remain on foot, Hilltop Orchards in Richmond offers 20-mile mountain views and varied hiking terrains on their 200-acre property. Hikers can choose to take a casual stroll through the orchard or a more strenuous trek that twists in and out of the woods. Leashed canines are welcome to join.
The manicured grounds of many cultural properties in the Berkshires are open, free of charge, for walkers and hikers. The Mount, Edith Wharton’s historic home turned museum and cultural center, is surrounded by groomed trails through charming woods, fields, streams, and gardens.
The Bidwell House Museum, a restored Georgian saltbox offering a glimpse into early American home life, is bordered by terraced stone walls, perennial beds, gardens, footpaths, and hiking trails – plus, you’ll find historical landmarks throughout the property. Further north, in Williamstown, you can explore The Clark’s 140-acre campus with walking trails, rolling hills, and mountain views. (Visit later in the season to explore the indoor treasures of these museums.)
If you can’t visit the Berkshires in person, or find yourself housebound, there are ways to digitally explore the outdoor beauty of our region. Check out Berkshire Natural Resources Council’s High Road, Bike Berkshire North’s photo gallery, and Visit the Berkshires official Instagram, where you can see pics and video from all across the county.
Spring presents an excellent opportunity to focus on renewal and self care, especially during turbulent times. Let the natural charms of the Berkshires help ease anxiety and be a green balm for the soul.
Images (top to bottom): Ashuwillticook Rail Trail – photo: Ogden Gigli; The Mount – photo: John Seakwood; Mount Greylock trail route – collage courtesy of Bike Berkshire North.