Skip to Main Content

Staying Cool During a Beautiful Berkshire Summer

Posted on July 05, 2023Written by Cathleen King, 1Berkshire
Updated on July 21, 2023

Boat sailing on Onota LakeOnota Lake, credit Ogden Gigli

Whether you are a visitor, new transplant, or longtime local, you know there is a magic to the Berkshires in every season.

Summer lets you gather with friends and family and enjoy the outdoors, feeling your muscles work, planting in your garden or hiking a trail at The Mount. You feel sun on your face as you bike the Ashuwillticook Trail, or catch a ballgame at Wahconah Park. It’s summer, it’s fun, and it’s gloriously warm! It’s also prime time to get in, on, or near the water. So where do you go to answer your call to cool off? The Berkshires abound with lakes, ponds, and even waterfalls – read on!

Summer is the perfect time to experience the natural beauty of water cascading down a craggy ledge, the gentle spray of mist, and the soothing sounds it makes as it rolls and tumbles over the rocky bottom into a restful pool. Maybe a quick splash is in order, but certainly just being near a waterfall has a cooling effect. In North Adams, the Cascade Waterfall is an easy hike to a nearly-enclosed gorge, with a great spot to take a dip near the base of the falls. Bellevue Falls in Adams is just six feet high – you can even cliff jump into the pool of water at the bottom. After that dip, a cool, refreshing beverage may be in order. In North Adams, sample a hometown microbrew at Bright Ideas while seated at an outdoor table in the shade of an expansive maple tree, or visit the outdoor covered patio at 413 Bistro for a tall, icy lemonade and a cheeseboard.  

A bit further south, Wahconah Falls is breathtaking due to the sheer volume of water in motion. Located within Wahconah State Park, fishing, hiking, and picnicking are available nearby. Race Brook Falls in Sheffield is not to be missed, as it is actually five sets of scenic cascades near the summits of Mt. Everett and Mt. Race. Bash Bish Falls in Monterey is the highest falls in Massachusetts. The 80-foot drop ends in a pool of emerald water, sheltered by the cooling canopy of the State Park evergreens. Make a note to swing by the Southfield Store, where you can find an incredible array of fresh sandwiches, salads, and baked goods to enjoy on site or to go.

Person standing in front of Bash Bish waterfalls

Bash Bish Falls, credit Ogden Gigli

North Pond in the Savoy State Forest is a quiet sanctuary stocked each spring with trout. Motors are prohibited on the water, making it the perfect respite for a bit of swimming or kayaking, or even shoreline fishing. Picnic tables are available. Put your canoe in at Windsor Lake in North Adams, swim at the guarded beach, and have a family picnic on the grounds. Little ones will enjoy the playground, and try your hand at catching a fish or two. The Historic Valley Campground is also situated on Windsor Lake.

Seek some heat relief at Onota Lake, where you can swim, boat, waterski, and fish. A 653-acre great pond with varied depths, Onota Lake offers unparalleled views of the mountains and offers a double concrete boat ramp and ample parking. No boat? No worries! Check out the Onota Boat Livery , where you can rent canoes, kayaks, motor boats, and even pontoon boats.  How cool is that? Ashmere Lake, stunningly peaceful, is a manmade reservoir created in 1875. Swimming and water skiing are permitted, and as the Lake is fairly shallow, it is known as a warm water fishery. Ashmere Lake features Ashmere Island, which can be reached by a fairly easy paddle.

Take a ride to Great Barrington, and then take a splash in Lake Mansfield, open for seasonal recreation. Enjoy the sandy beach, picnic area, and swings, perfect for cooling, carefree fun. Although the beach is closed to pets, dogs can access the lake at the boat launch. The nearby trail is built for accessibility, with a crushed stone surface. Just five minutes away is Xicohtencatl Mexican Restaurant, with indoor and outdoor seating. Treat yourself to an Aguas Frescas (freshly made seasonal fruit waters) or horchata (cooling coconut-based beverage) with chips and freshly prepared guac before continuing on your summer way. Benedict Pond, found within Beartown State Forest, is a scenic and placid place for a swim, paddle, or cast of the fishing line. There is also a 1.7 mile walking loop around the pond for a stretch of the legs.

Group of people rafting in Deerfield

Zoar Outdoor rafting, credit Zoar Outdoor Staff

For the thrill-seeker, how about a curated adventure? Check out Crab Apple Whitewater, Inc., where you can experience an exhilarating, staff-led rafting or kayaking adventure for you or for a group on the Deerfield River. You can also find whitewater excitement at  Zoar Outdoor. Try a kayak or raft experience, no matter your ability, or even let the summer air cool you down as you take a zipline ride. On-site camping and lodging are also available.

Oh – one more thing! You know you can’t say summer without saying ice cream! The Craft Food Barn serves hard and soft-serve ice cream, build-your-own-sundaes, and mint chocolate chip ice cream pie (with an Oreo crust!). Get some to go at the drive-through window. High Lawn Farm makes and packs its own ice cream in 15 flavors, as well as additional seasonal flavors like Lemon Poppy. Chocolate Springs Cafe has, as the name suggests, fabulous chocolates, and it also offers delicious ice cream and gelato flavors.  Grab a cone or dish and relax on a comfy couch while you cool yourself from the inside out! 

Summer-on in the Berkshires! You’ve waited so long for it – come and enjoy the sun, the warmth, and the cool! We have plenty to share!

Find additional inspiration right here: Adventure Tourism, Water Sports, Family Activities

Return to the Berkshire Blog.


More Posts