Visiting in the Spring
Spring is a glorious season in the Berkshires, a time of renewal and rejuvenation cast in buttery sunshine. This is the season to rediscover the outdoor beauty of our hills, valleys, lakes, and woods.
Laced with hiking trails, scenic overlooks, and verdant fields, there is no better place to welcome the renewal of spring than the Berkshires. Watch the gradual greening of new foliage at one of the myriad forests and parks with a leisurely stroll or the bracing up-and-down of a challenging hiking trail. The breathtaking Bash Bish Falls in Mount Washington are the highest waterfalls in Massachusetts. In Tyringham you’ll be enchanted by Ashintully Gardens, a property of the Trustees of Reservations offering scenic walks through a terraced landscape.
Some call it the mud season, but for the dedicated birdwatcher, a pair of sturdy green Wellies to keep feet dry and binoculars slung around the neck are all the gear needed to enjoy the day. Pleasant Valley Wildlife Sanctuary boasts seven miles of trails on their 1,142-acres in Lenox.
One of the sure signs of spring is the appearance of buckets on maple trees just as the last of the snow disappears. Ioka Valley Farm is renowned for their syrup. Each spring, sugar houses across the county open breakfast cafés where you can enjoy fresh maple syrup on a stack of pancakes. Plus you’ll learn all about the making of maple syrup!
Photos: Ogden Gigli
In the nineteenth century during the Gilded Age, the natural beauty of the Berkshires attracted city dwellers for idyllic vacations among the lakes and hills. Many of these wealthy visitors built mansions and villas called “cottages” as seasonal retreats.
The Mount, home of Pulitzer Prize-winning novelist Edith Wharton, is one such “cottage.” Now beautifully restored, the home is operated as a historic house museum with extraordinary gardens where visitors can enjoy scenic walks and picnics. Ventfort Hall, another example also in Lenox, was built by the Morgan family and is now open to the public. (Both properties periodically offer ghost tours!)
A number of other Berkshire “cottages” have been meticulously renovated and are in use as sumptuous B&Bs, where the luxurious surroundings of a bygone era can be enjoyed alongside modern amenities. Choose an inn that was once part of a sprawling estate, a B&B set in the midst of woods or fields, or select a downtown hotel in walking distance to shopping and restaurants.
Visitors can also harken back to an earlier era when Hancock Shaker Village was a thriving agricultural enterprise and spring brought piglets and lambs and chicks to the farm. You won’t want to miss the annual spring celebration of Baby Animals on the Shaker Farm at this living history museum.