Stave off cabin fever with a jaunt through these natural beauties
Craving some time outdoors in nature? The Berkshires is the perfect place for a change of scenery! Whether you’re in north or south Berkshire county, dozens of scenic hiking and walking trails are just a short drive away. These are a few favorites for late-winter outings, some are peppered with outdoor art exhibitions. . Be sure to check ahead for COVID-19 guidelines in our Know Before You Go post.
Just off busy Route 7, at the sign for Mass Audubon’s Pleasant Valley Wildlife Sanctuary in Lenox, is a wetland ecosystem and beaver habitat teeming with the sights and sounds of Berkshire springtime. With 1,000 acres and 7 miles of wooded and pondside trails (including a universal All Persons Trail), this conservation land is home to beavers, songbirds and ducks, woodpeckers and owls, and salamanders emerging from hibernation. Toward month’s end as the days lengthen and warm, the appearance of wildflowers and the familiar breeding call of Spring Peeper frogs is Mother Nature’s welcome assurance that spring is here to stay after a cold, snowy Berkshire winter. If it’s not possible for you to visit the Berkshires in person right now, explore Mass Audubon’s online education programs to learn about the flora and fauna that live here, then keep this beautiful spot in mind for your next trip.
If you’ve been missing the cultural offerings of the Berkshires in addition to the region’s scenic beauty, a trip to the Clark Art Institute in Williamstown might be your tonic. Along with permanent outdoor works already in place, the museum opened its first outdoor exhibition, Ground/Work (through October 17, 2021), in February, with commissioned works by six contemporary artists set across its bucolic 140-acre campus. Trails vary in terrain and difficulty, from leisurely strolls to more strenuous hikes. Weather permitting, borrow a pair of complimentary snowshoes and experience this serene landscape in a fresh and exhilarating way. The trails at the Clark are free and open 24/7, but if you’d like to also explore the museum’s indoor galleries during your visit, reserve your timed-entry tickets in advance.
For one of the area’s most unique outdoor experiences, visit TurnPark Art Space in West Stockbridge. A former marble quarry, TurnPark has been transformed into an outdoor sculpture park with walking trails. This year, a Spring Equinox Celebration on March 20th (4:00 pm–9:00 pm) will feature light sculptures and projections, an improvisational music event, and curated art exhibitions—all carefully planned with your safety and social distancing in mind. From time to time, naturalists from Pleasant Valley Wildlife Sanctuary offer wildlife and full moon walks in this magical space. Check the TurnPark website for more info as upcoming events are announced.
Find more places to explore outdoors in the Berkshires at the Trustee of Reservations, Berkshire Natural Resources Council, Housatonic Heritage Trail, and the Appalachian Trail websites. When you want breathtaking scenery and a breath of fresh air, we’ve got a place for you!
Photos: (top & middle) Mass Audubon Pleasant Valley, (bottom) Analia Saban’s “Teaching a Cow How to Draw” at The Clark Art Institute. Photo by Thomas Clark.