The Berkshires Blog

Come for a Wedding and Stay for so Much More

Weddings are popular in the Berkshires year-round.

Day 1: The Wedding

It was a crisp, clear, winter day in the Berkshires, just verging on the edge of spring—a perfect day to get married. Joe’s cousin had chosen Chesterwood, the historic summer home of renowned American sculptor Daniel Chester French (best known for his sculpture of Abraham Lincoln at the Lincoln Memorial), for an intimate reception with 30 close friends and family. We gathered after the wedding in the property’s historic, renovated woodshed, views of snow-covered mountains all around us.

We left our kids with my mom so Joe and I could enjoy a quick getaway together, and I was so glad we were staying a couple of extra days to explore the area. I felt like we hadn’t really taken a vacation in years, especially one that involved hiking.

When we first met, we loved to hike—we even climbed a few of the 4,000-footers in New Hampshire. Now, we spent a lot more time on the sidelines of soccer practice. Two full-time jobs and two kids made life hectic, but the wedding was a fantastic opportunity for us to explore an area we’ve always wanted to trek through. The game plan after the wedding: suit up in our warmest winter gear and hike two trails maintained by the Berkshire Natural Resources Council (BNRC). The BNRC works tirelessly to preserve the Berkshire’s great, but threatened, landscapes—we knew the trails would be pristine.

“I can’t wait until tomorrow,” Joe said while we ate our dinners at the reception.

I also could hardly wait. We’d start in the southern Berkshires, at the BNRC’s Mt. Darby property in Mt. Washington, then head north the following day to snowshoe at the Hoosac Range in North Adams.

After toasting Joe’s cousin and her new husband, we headed back to the hotel, laying out our hiking gear so we could get an early start.

Take a scenic hike during the winter

Day 2: Mt. Darby & farm-fresh fare

In the wee hours of the morning, we drove through Great Barrington on our way to Mt. Darby and grabbed a quick cup of coffee and almond croissants from Patisserie Lenox—a first-rate French pastry shop.

There’s a road up to the radio towers at the summit of Mt. Darby, so we opted to park there and start our hike downhill since it had been a while for both of us. We pulled on our tallest winter boots and hit the beginner-level trail, trading smiles and nods with a few early rising cross-country skiers along the way. As we crunched through the snow, we pointed out chickadees perched on mountain laurels and tree branches and talked about how much we liked the area so far.

There’s a road up to the radio towers at the summit of Mt. Darby, so we opted to park there and start our hike downhill since it had been a while for both of us. We pulled on our tallest winter boots and hit the beginner-level trail, trading smiles and nods with a few early rising cross-country skiers along the way. As we crunched through the snow, we pointed out chickadees perched on mountain laurels and tree branches and talked about how much we liked the area so far.

“We’ll have to come back here with the kids,” I said. “I want to see what it looks like here in the summer, and it’s not too tough of a hike.”

“Definitely,” Joe replied.

When we reached the bottom, we spent some time looking out at the mountain ranges around us, sharing the thermos of coffee I’d brought. I loved that Joe would hike through the snow with me—we both enjoyed how quiet and still it was in the winter, and how it often seemed we had entire trails to ourselves.

“The Appalachian Trail goes right through the Berkshires,” I said. “Wouldn’t you love to hike that someday? All the way from Maine to Georgia.”

“Maybe when we retire, Mrs. Adventurer,” he said, teasing me. “I only want to hike it if we can do the whole thing at once.”

It was around lunchtime when we got back to the car. We were heading north, up Route 7 toward North Adams, which lies near Mount Greylock, Massachusett’s tallest mountain. We’d check into our B&B tonight, and then get up early again tomorrow to tackle the Hoosac Range.

The mountains grew taller and taller as we got closer to Vermont, and we had to stop on the ridge in South Williamstown to take some scenic photos to share with the kids. I could see why people come up here by the busload for the incredible scenery.

Once we got to Williamstown, our stomachs were growling, so we headed to The Store at Five Corners for a late lunch. The Store sources as much as it can from local farmers and producers—including the creamy, citrusy, rustic cheese in our sandwiches, which was from Cricket Creek Farm, just across the road.

“We’ve got to buy some of that cheese before we head home,” Joe said, as we sat in the store’s main room, enjoying the attention to detail in the beautifully restored wide-plank floors, menu boards embellished with hand-drawn ivy and side dishes served in small cast-iron pans.

“Why not now? We can check out the farm, then head to Blackinton Manor Bed & Breakfast (when we did check in it was the ideal romantic spot to spend the night and the breakfast was delicious) in North Adams,” I said.

We found an honor-system farm store stocked with plenty of great stuff, including bread, local meat and milk, and of course, Cricket Creek Farm’s award-winning cheese. We also bought an insulated tote bag so our goodies would stay cool on the way home.

The outdoors hold adventure just waiting for you to take the first step

Day 3: Hoosac Range & one last bite of cheese

The next morning, we woke with the sunrise, suited up and headed to the Hoosac Range, a moderate three-mile hike with dramatic views you can only get in the Berkshires. This time, we snowshoed, shuffling over the packed spring snow. I loved watching Joe—an expert hiker in any season—navigate the trail. His footprints led us both to Spruce Hill, where my scene got even better. Ahead of us: breathtaking, 180-degree, Hoosic Valley views and stoic cliffs cascading with ice.

You know you’re in the mountains when you drive through Berkshire County, but the view from Spruce Hill puts it all in perspective.

“It’s easy to forget the rest of the world up here,” I said through heavy breaths as we finally reached the summit.

“This is definitely worth the two-hour hike,” Joe replied as he stood, reveling in his accomplishment, hands resting high on his hips.

After sticking around for a few breezes to enjoy the expansive view, we headed back down to our car and then the hotel. A quick shower and a change of clothes, then we were off to lunch at PUBLIC Eat + Drink, settling in at a table as our stomachs growled. The menu included dishes made with local ingredients; we both ordered Public Burgers with bacon, caramelized onions, roasted jalapeño mayo, and local grass-fed beef, as well as 2 cocktails called the Victory, Served Up (made with the local Berkshire Mountain Distillers Ethereal Gin).

“We should do this again,” he said, “with or without the kids.”

I smirked and said, “I’m cool with that,” just before taking another sip of cocktail.

We got dessert and coffee then headed back to our hotel. “You go on up,” I told him. I was still craving something salty after a full day of snowshoeing. “I’m going to see if I can find some crackers for that cheese.”

Before I left the B&B, I chatted with the innkeper/owner. We had to come back. There are at least 20 more trails we’ve yet to traverse. I asked her what was available during the summer, around Joe’s birthday. He would love the surprise and it could be a gift for both of us—maybe the kids could come, too. We could conquer the Berkshire trails together and I would get extra time with my family in one of our favorite venues: the great outdoors. Next time, we’ll definitely hike Alford Springs for blackberry picking (and maybe a bear sighting), canoe to Ashmere Island nature preserve, and the adults will cool their jets with Big Elm Brewery drafts while enjoying a tasty meal at Mezze Bistro + Bar or visit some of the famous cultural attractions in the area. A win, win situation as I see it.

The Berkshires have year-round outdoor adventure, so plan you trip today!