Housatonic Heritage walks
September 23 @ 9:30 am - 5:00 pm
Housatonic Heritage explores the past, present and future in the Berkshires, in open spaces and downtowns, at historic sites and along trails. Walks set out from many places between Pittsfield and Northwest Connecticut, weaving together many times and places, people and lived experiences, and all of them are free. They will continue on Sunday and on weekends through September.
Hike up Cobble Mountain at Macedonia Brook State Park — 9:30 a.m.
Join Zack Adams from the Northwest Connecticut Land Conservancy for a challenging hike at Cobble Mountain Preserve, accessible from Macedonia Brook State Park. The trail passes along Macedonia Brook and includes a steep ascent over a rocky outcrop to the blue-blazed Macedonia Ridge Trail. NCLC has protected 192 acres of Cobble Mountain and the surrounding area that includes 86 acres of ridgeline and the northwestern hillside, and conservation easements on 106 acres. This hike is steep, but you will be rewarded with amazing views of the Taconic and Catskill Mountain ranges.
The group will meet at 159 Macedonia Brook Road. From the center of Kent, follow Rte 341 west from Route 7. Turn right onto Macedonia Brook Road and stay left at the intersection of Macedonia Brook and Fuller Mountain Roads and look for park signs. The hike will run about 4 hours and 3 miles — to save your space, write to firstname.lastname@example.org
Tours of the Beckley Blast Furnace in East Canaan, Conn. — from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m.
Learn about the historic iron industry of the Upper Housatonic Valley, by the Friends of Beckley Furnace. Built in 1847, the furnace produced high quality iron until 1918, and is one of the last surviving examples of the 19th and early 20th century blast furnaces that were once commonplace CT sights, and is listed on the National Register of Historic Places. There were 21 furnaces in northwestern CT, as rich veins of iron ore were discovered in the hills near the town of Salisbury. During the American Revolution, CT-forged iron helped fuel the manufacture of American weaponry, most notably the cannons used by the Continental Army, Union weapons for the Civil War, and railroad car wheels. Tour begins when you arrive and will run about and hour and 0.4 mile. 140 Lower Road, East Canaan, just off US Routes 44 and 7)
15-mile Bicycle Tour of Sheffield and Ashley Falls — 10 a.m.
This bike tour will bring riders through scenic back roads, as Catherine Miller from the Sheffield Historical Society will stop to talk about historic sites along the way. Recommended for those who have experience biking long distances with some incline, though most of the route is flat. Bring your own bike and helmet.
The group will meet at the Sheffield Historical Society, in the municipal parking lot next to the Society grounds, 159 Main St./Route 7, behind the Mobil Station.Rain date will be Sunday, September 24 at 10 a.m. The ride will cover about 15 miles in 2 hours — to save your space, write to email@example.com or call 413-229-2694.
Magic of Migration – Birding at Miles Wildlife Sanctuary — 10 a.m.
Observe birds on the move at the Sharon Audubon Center at Miles Wildlife Sanctuary, 800 acres of protected habitat which includes wetlands, meadows and mixed forest. The riparian habitat attracts migrating warbler species, waterfowl and raptors like Bald Eagles. Learn about the property’s namesake, Emily Winthrop Miles, and see her sculptures from the early 1960s can be observed on the property.
From Route 41 in Sharon, turn onto Calkinstown Road on the east side of Route 41. After 1.8 miles, make a slight right onto West Cornwall Road and go on another 1.8 miles, passing Miles Pond and seeing the sanctuary sign on the right. Pull in and follow signs to the parking area. The terrain can be rocky, and the walk will cover about a mile in 1.5 hours — to save your space, call 860-364-0520.
Tour the colonial Theatre in Pittsfield — 10 a.m.
Journey with Bill Munn through the history of the gilded age Colonial Theatre, now owned by The Berkshire Theatre Group, as you hear the story of the 1903 world-class theatre, movie house and National Historic Treasure appointment by Hillary Clinton, its restoration and 2006 grand re-opening.
The theater lies at 111 South St., just south of the center of Pittsfield. The tour lasts about and hour – to save your space, write to firstname.lastname@example.org
Historic April Hill Farm and Bioblitz Diversity Day — 10 a.m.
Director of Greenagers Will Conklin will lead a tour of Historic April Hill Farm. The tour will include the historic house and barns as well as visits to various farm operations including a large vegetable garden, orchard, and more. This year’s walk coincides with the Berkshire BioBlitz, so all Heritage Walk folks can check in on the inventorying of all the Biota of nearby Bow Wow Woods (also a Greenagers property).
The group will meet at 62 Undermountain Road (Route 41) in South Egremont. From Route 23 through South Egremont, turn onto Route 41 and drive 1 mile. The walk will cover about a quarter of a mile and last 1 hour – to save your space, write to email@example.com or 413-644-9090
Neighborhoods of West Stockbridge — 10 a.m.
Explore the back streets of West Stockbridge’s Village Center with Bob Salerno from the West Stockbridge Historical Society. The walk will view the lesser traveled areas, with an eye to the mid 1800s when the village center was being developed and home to many of the prominent movers and shakers that created the town we see today. A reception will follow at the Old Town Hall.
The walk will also start at the Old Town Hall – 9 Main Street, West Stockbridge, and last about an hour, and cover half a mile. To save your space, write to firstname.lastname@example.org
Walk through Dark Hollow Preserve in Salisbury, Conn. — 10 a.m.
Join Tom Key from the Salisbury Association Land Trust for a walk on the three major trails in the Dark Hollow Preserve. The trails run through mixed hard woods and pine/hemlock forest, skirt large rock out cropings and descend along fields and wetlands. Prominent along one of the trails is a demonstration of the power of nature from a micro burst of wind two years ago. Old maps of the area have Farnam Road named Spooky Lane and Dark Hollow designated as Spooky Hollow.
The group will discuss the possible reasons for these names but hopefully will not encounter the rationale or remnants for the designations. Actually they are quite shy, but do not whistle during the walk! The walk will last about an hour and cover 2.5 miles. From Farnam Road (south end), meet at the first pull off on Dark Hollow Road, or if coming from Salmon Kill Road, go to the last pull off (trail maps).
Great Barrington’s first Meeting House — 10 a.m.
Join Bernard Drew at the Water Street Cemetery to learn about the town’s first meeting house and emergence of the graveyard. The program will begin at the marker installed by the Thursday Morning Club in 1908 and restored by that organization in 2023. The group will walk a section of the original Native pathway that became a fur trade route and was used by Gen. Henry Knox to transport cannons from Fort Ticonderoga to Charlestown Heights in 1776. The tour will visit the graves of the first Congregational pastor, Samuel Hopkins and members of the Kellogg family.
It will cover about a tenth of a mile in an hour and a half. Meet at the Water Street Cemetery, on State Road/Route 23, at the intersection of East St., which is just east of the Great Bridge. There is parking along the highway and on Anderson Street.
The Stockbridge-Munsee in Stockbridge — A walking tour with OLLI
Stockbridge was founded in 1737 as a mission and unique partnership with the Mohican nation. The Mohican community held their own township within the Commonwealth. They learned English from European incomers, and the Mohicans remained self-governing. The Stockbridge-Munsee community have worked with Housatonic Heritage and other local partners to create a tour of the most important Mohican sites along Stockbridge’s main street.
Osher Lifelong Learning Institute member Michael Forbes Wilcox will lead a walking tour along Main Street to learn about the Mohicans who lived here for centuries and in Stockbridge in these 50 years and are still present today. Stops include the Carriage Barn at the Mission House, the burial ground and the site of the 2021 archeological dig for the Mohican meeting house. This walking tour has been developed by the Stockbridge-Munsee Community, highlighting the years in which they lived in Stockbridge. Presented in partnership with Housatonic Heritage Area. The walk will run about 1.5 hours and 1 mile — to save your space, visit OLLI.
91 Seasons of Jacob’s Pillow Dance Festival — 11 a.m.
The buildings and grounds of Jacob’s Pillow have many stories to tell, including Indigenous roots, history as a stop on the Underground Railroad and championing men dancers in the 1930s. Now recognized as a National Historic Landmark, the site maintains its rustic character while serving as a home for dance artists from throughout the world since 1933.
Norton Owen, Director of Preservation, leads a tour with a behind-the-scenes understanding of why Time magazine called this secluded spot “the hub and mecca of dancing in North America.” The tour will last about an hour with minimal walking on flat, gravel walkways. To save your space, visit the Pillow, and for questions, write to email@example.com
The Pillow sits at 358 George Carter Road, Becket. From Lee, follow Route 20 East for 9 miles into Becket, and then turn left onto George Carter Road. The main entrance to the parking lot will be on your right after ¾ of a mile. Meet at the Welcome Center near the Ted Shawn Theatre.
Monterey Mills — Water power — 1 p.m.
The village of Monterey today is small, but in the 1740s through the late 1800s it was active with saw mills, grist mills, carding and fulling mills and a paper mill, as well as stores and other businesses. Join Rob Hoogs from the Bidwell House Museum and Monterey Historical Society for an illustrated walk to explore the remains and history of these water-powered mills, beginning inside the Monterey Library for a half-hour talk.
Meet the Monterey Library at 452 Main Road. Limited parking at the library, additional parking behind Monterey Town Hall The walk lasts about an hour and a half and covers a mile along the Mill Brook (Konkapot River) to visit the foundations of the mills, dams and other features. The walk in some places is rough and may be wet. Wear hiking shoes, and bring trekking poles if you like and bring bug repellant. Th save your space, write to firstname.lastname@example.org
Among the stones — Historical snippets of Sharon’s less active reidents — 2 p.m.
Come and learn about the various members of Sharon’s history as Cooper Sheldon, curator from the Sharon Historical Society, talks you through burial and medical practices throughout New England’s history, notable historical figures of Sharon’s past, and the material and iconography of gravestones at the Hillside Cemetery.
The walk will begin at the Sharon Historical Society and move to the cemetery. The group will wander among the headstones, stopping at a couple of the less talkative locals, then enjoy refreshments and conversation back at the Historical Society. Meet at the Sharon Historical Society, 18 Main St. — follow Route 4 to Sharon and at the crossroads take a right, and the Sharon Historical Society will be on your right. The museum is a brick-faced building with a large yard. Please park on the gravel, with overflow parking on the grass. The walk will last about 2 hours and cover 2 miles – to save your space, write to email@example.com
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