By Lisa Green
Now here’s a happy coincidence: two of the Berkshires’ most notable attributes — fall foliage and world-class eating opportunities — can be appreciated nearly simultaneously. Whether you have a week, weekend or just an afternoon to experience this “two-fer,” you can take in a leaf-peeping drive and a snack or meal that will double your enjoyment of the best of the Berkshires.
If you’re coming from the south, you’ll find yourself on beautiful back roads via Route 7 out of Connecticut, the bucolic Taconic Parkway, or Route 23 from New York. The latter will lead you to the Swiss Hutte County Inn & Restaurant, a charming European-style inn right on the border of the two states. You might consider first spending the day at the nearby Catamount Adventure Park, where you can marvel at the fall forest from one of the 12 aerial zip line courses before enjoying the Swiss Hutte’s famed cheese fondue.
Another scenic drive takes you over Lebanon Mountain from Massachusetts on the Lebanon Trail, from which you’ll see a spectacular vista of the Lebanon Valley, the more muted tones of the farmland a contrast in colors to the brilliant foliage you traverse. Once in the valley, stop at Mario’s Restaurant, an Italian-inspired New Lebanon landmark since the early 60s.
There’s probably no destination more rewarding than the summit of Mount Greylock, Massachusetts’ highest peak, which you can ascend by auto from North Adams, Lanesboro or Williamstown. The winding drive takes you through ancient spruce trees, but once at the top, you’ll see fall’s splendor amid the view stretching through Massachusetts, New York, Connecticut, Vermont and New Hampshire. Add to the sensory stimulation with a visit to Bascom Lodge and enjoy the nightly prix-fixe dinner (through October 20) at the café with “windows on the world.”
Heading north on Route 7 takes you toward Williamstown and one of the most scenic panoramas in the Berkshires, just past Route 43. The variegated autumn tones of mountain forests, valley and farm land will whet your appetite for dinner from Mezze Bistro and Bar up the road, with its seasonal menu based on locally sourced ingredients.
A day trip on the Mohawk Trail (Route 2) is awe-inspiring at any season, but particularly dramatic in the fall. You’re in the northern part of the region, so the maples will be turning color sooner than later along New England’s first scenic road, opened in 1914. You’ll meander along rivers, jaw-dropping vistas, colorful forests and quaint towns. Waiting for you in Historic Deerfield: Champney’s Restaurant and Tavern at the Deerfield Inn, a casual American tavern, the perfect fare at the end of a day filled with Berkshires fall foliage appreciation.
Lisa Green is a freelance writer and advertising director of www.ruralintelligence.com.