Late spring and summer in the Berkshires can mean only one thing — it’s time to play in the water! As the snow melts from the mountains, the fresh, clear water runs from tiny brooks, down into the rivers, lakes and ponds in the valleys. Locals and visitors alike take to the water in the spring, many as soon as the ice is out, in search of fun, adventure and cooling relaxation. Look in any direction in the Berkshires and you’ll find a wet and wild adventure waiting for you. Here’s a list of some of the locals’ favorites.
While you can count on the weather warming up in the summer, some hidden mountain brooks seem like they stay cold all year round. And since they feed the bigger rivers and lakes, you can count on cool, refreshing swimming holes scattered throughout the Berkshires. Every town has their own, but three of the most special, and easiest to access swimming holes in the Berkshires would be the Green River in Great Barrington, as described here, the Green River at Mount Hope Park in Williamstown, and Bellvue Falls in Adams, both described here.
If you’re looking for an invigorating dip in a cool, clear, mountain pool, there’s no better place to find refuge from summer heat than in the swimming holes scattered throughout the Berkshires.
Kayaking & WhiteWater Rafting
With the spring melt comes the most exciting time of the year to be on a river. Kayakers and whitewater rafters head to the Deerfield River in the northern Berkshires for one of the East Coast’s premier whitewater destinations. Crab Apple Whitewater, Zoar Outdoors and Berkshire East run whitewater rafting trips on the river throughout the spring and summer, and some companies also rent inflatable kayaks for exploration on the quieter sections of the river.
The excitement of kayaking or whitewater rafting on the Deerfield River isn’t restricted to spring, however. The water flows in this section of the Deerfield are controlled by the Fife Brook Dam, a few miles upstream. In a normal summer, the dam releases water, on schedule, almost daily, meaning that once a day the Charlemont section of the Deerfield has perfect whitewater conditions. It also means that later in the day, the rush of water subsides and there is a more gentle flow. All our rafting facilities take advantage of this by offering opportunities to raft the exhilarating whitewater when the dam releases, or to book a beginner, or intermediate rafting trip later in the day when the current is not as strong. So no matter your skill level or thirst for adventure, there is a Deerfield River whitewater rafting or kayaking trip waiting for you.
The Fife Brook Dam on the Deerfield also plays a big role in turning this river into one of the top fly fishing destinations in the east. The dam releases from the bottom, which means the coldest water from the reservoir above is regularly released into the river below, making for a cold, oxygenated flow that allows trout to trive. When fly fishing the Deerfield, it’s a good idea to hire a guide (at least for your first day), as they’ll know the best times to fish (subject to dam release), where to find fish, and where to avoid other anglers. In the higher waters following the release of the dam, the best way to fish the Deerfield is on a float trip — an opportunity that’s more often experienced on western rivers than in the east.
The Berkshires are not only home to one storied fly fishing river, but two… actually you could argue four. The Housatonic gets its start high on the Berkshire plateau and flows through Pittsfield, Lenox, Lee, Stockbridge, Great Barrington and Sheffield, before exiting into Connecticut. The river grows from a small mountain stream to a slow, moving river by the time it hits the border, and features just about every fishing experience in between. Also best fished with a guide, fly fishing on the Housatonic is an experience not to be missed.
Want to take you fly fishing to flat water and seek out some bass? The Berkshire Fishing Club is the perfect spot to fish poppers from your own boat, provided by the club.
Whatever your taste for water adventure, you’ll find it here in the rivers and lakes of the Berkshires. The experience is out there, and we hope we’ve helped you find it.