While the Appalachian Trail deservedly garners most of the distance-trail glory in the Berkshires, the lesser known, but equally magnificent 35 mile Taconic Crest Trail traces the western ridges of northern and central Berkshire County. From Williamstown to Pittsfield, the TCT climbs to rocky ledges overlooking the Housatonic River valley to the east and the Little Hoosic Creek and Kinderhook Creek valleys to the west, descends into open hardwood forests, and then climbs again to another overlook — repeating this cycle for the length of the trail.
One of my favorite sections (possibly VERY favorite section) of the TCT begins at the large parking lot at the high point along Rte 2, between Williamstown, MA and Petersburg, NY. For a ski-nerd like me, this day hike has the added benefit of ascending the ski trails of Petersburg Pass, one of the Berkshires’ long-lost, historical ski areas. You can find out more about Petersburg Pass’s skiing history here.
Park in the Petersburg Pass lot on the southern side of Rte 2. The 2.8 mile hike (5.8 mile round-trip) to Berlin Mountain, the TCT’s highest point, starts off with a quick climb along the ski area’s overgrown trails to the top of Mt. Raimer at 2,572 feet (Note: the hiking trail is clear and well-marked with white-blazes on blue-square markers). Continuing south from Raimer, you descend only 300 feet before crossing the rolling ridgeline and then ascending again to the 2,818 foot summit of Berlin Mountain.
The low points along the ridgeline can be wet in the summer, so plan on some muddy sections in the coming months of March and April, as these areas are just beginning to thaw (and remember to follow spring hiking guidelines to prevent vegetation and trail damage).
While 5.8 miles might be on the longer side of a light hike for some, being able to park at almost 2,100 feet easily opens this hike up to more experienced kids and novice hikers, while delivering the payoff of some of the region’s higher summits.
No matter who is in your hiking party, a post-hike refuel at the ‘6 House Pub (at the bottom of the Rte 2 hill in Williamstown) will cap off the day perfectly. If you catch a warm day this spring, the outdoor seating on their terrace should be open. With that April sun, Berlin Mountain under your belt, and some comfort food in your belly, you’ll wish you could sleep over… which you can also do.
I’ll see you in April for some more outdoor fun in the Berkshires.