The mountainous landscape of the Berkshires provides countless nooks and crannies that catch droplets of water and form a spiderweb of pristine rivers, lakes, and ponds. Whether you’re seeking adventurous whitewater, a leisurely sail, or access to the Berkshires’ most remote corners, you’ll find it here in the Berkshires of Western Massachusetts. Each community in the region has their own collection of liquid beauty ready for your discovery by sailboat, motorboat, kayak, canoe, or other forms of water transport. Here are a few of our favorites.
In the central Berkshire County, Pittsfield is home to two majestic neighboring lakes — Onota Lake and Pontoosuc Lake. With views to the north, west and south of the Taconic Range and clear, blue water, these lakes have been a summer recreation playground for locals and visitors for over a hundred years. Grab a group of friends and head to U-Drive Rent-a-Boat in Lanesboro, where you can explore Pontoosuc Lake on a pontoon boat rental. Fish for bass in the shallows, or trout in the cooler, deeper parts of the lake, or just sit back and enjoy the views surrounding you. Or, head over to Onota Lake and the Onota Boat Livery for an affordable pontoon boat, fishing boat, paddle boat, canoe and kayak rentals. Surrounded by the beauty of the Berkshires, explore the lake on your own terms. If you happen to visit Onota Lake on a Wednesday evening in July or August, you might catch the sound of live music carrying across the waters. For the past fifteen years, the Live at the Lake music series has taken place on the shores of Onota Lake, where boaters and landlubbers alike enjoy the cool lake breeze and the live music.
If you’re a fisherman, the waters of the Berkshires hold some of the most exciting game fish in the Northeast and one of the best bass fishing experiences in the area can be found by boat at the Berkshire Fishing Club in Becket. The club surrounds a 125-acre private lake atop the Berkshire Plateau. Since it’s private, you won’t find jet skis kicking up wakes and making noise, party boats floating by, or houses lining the shores – just a simple, serene bass fishing adventure that will have you coming back for more.
A motor isn’t the only way to find speed on the water. The Berkshire Rowing and Sculling Society (BRASS) delivers everyday accessibility to the famed Olympic and collegiate sports of rowing and sculling. Based at the Cuyler Boathouse on Onota Lake in Pittsfield, BRASS offers rowing classes for adults and kids throughout the summer, so first timers and experienced rowers alike can enjoy the fun and challenge of this age-old sport. Hop in, grab an oar and row yourself to fun and fitness this summer. Interested in guided tours on the water? Then be sure to contact Berkshire Scenic Treks & Canoe Tours to set up a personalized boating experience. While on your tour you will enjoy the unspoiled beauty of the meandering Housatonic River and the nature that surrounds it so be sure to bring your camera.
Finally, for the thrillists at heart, the Deerfield River provides some of the Northeast’s most exciting whitewater — and some of the closest whitewater to New York City and Boston. Onward, towards Deerfield you have a few choices for adventure. Zoar Outdoor and Crab Apple Whitewater all offer a variety of whitewater rafting and kayaking tours on the Deerfield.
However you choose to enjoy the water this summer, the Berkshires deliver opportunities to get you out on the water, having fun, surrounded by beautiful mountain scenery. It doesn’t matter which you choose, as long as you get out there and enjoy it. See you on the water.