Outdoors in summer in the Berkshire Region

Summer in the mountains means bagpipers at the summit of Mount Greylock and orchids in Hawley bog, canoe trips on the Housatonic and firefly festivals on warm evenings. Historic gardens are blooming, and naturalists are leading moonlit hikes and climbs to wooded ridges. In the photo above, a kayak crosses Onota Lake in Pittsfield. (Photo by Susan Geller)

Here are trails, hikes and outdoor centers in the region, from north to south.


Southern Vermont


Appalachian Trail — 150 miles of trail in Vermont runs south to north through Bennington County. Parking area and trail head on Vermont Route 9 east of Bennington, on the Molly Stark Scenic Byway. West of Prospect Mountain and Woodford, Vt. appalachiantrail.org

Garden Conservancy — Garden tours through the summer in Connecticut, Massachusetts, New York, Vermont. No reservations; rain or shine. For times and places — 888-842-2442 or opendaysprogram.org.

Hildene — Mansion of Robert Lincoln, son of Abraham Lincoln, open 9:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. daily: Goat dairy at Hildene Farm and about 12 miles of walking trails. Celebration of Peonies in late May and early June: Thousands of blooms in the formal garden, many from the original 1907 plants. 1005 Hildene Road off Route 7A, Manchester, Vt. 802-362-1788, hildene.org 

Lake Paran — 35-acre lake in North Bennington, Bennington and Shaftsbury. Swimming hole on Northwest shore. State fishing and boating access on south shore. Robert Frost Trail — 146 acres along the shore and Paran Creek were once a farm owned by Robert Frost. North Bennington, Vt. northbennington.org/paran

Merck Forest and Farmland Center — 3,100-acre property open to the public daily, free. Working farm, draft horses, sugar shack, 30 miles of trails for hiking and horseback riding. Visitors center open 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. daily. Wagon rides by appointment through mid-October. Cabins and camping year-round. Family farm chores 2 to 4 p.m. Thursdays: Join Merck Forest’s staff for afternoon on the farm, peek in the nest boxes to look for eggs, feed pigs or water sheep, move horses to pasture. 3270 Route 215, Rupert, Vt. 802-394-7836. merckforest.org

Mount Equinox — Fourteen trails ranging from an easy Pond Loop to a 1.8-mile Mountain Bluff Trail maintained by the Equinox Preservation Trust. Route 7A, Manchester, Vt. equinoxpreservationtrust.org or 802-362-4374

One World Conservation Center— Trails, periodic walks and workshops, programs for children and adults. 413 Route 7, Bennington, Vt. oneworldconservationcenter.org

Park McCullough House — Historic mansion with exhibit on 640-acre Hall Farm with artifacts, photographs, books, maps, tools and stories. Croquet teams compete in 10 weeks of play on the lawn 6 to 8 p.m. Thursdays June 16 to Aug. 18. Grounds and gardens open tree with access to trails in the adjoining woods. 1 Park St., North Bennington, Vt. 802-442-5441, parkmccullough.org.

Strobridge Recreation Complex — 735 acres of forest land, including 2,000 feet of frontage on the Hoosic River, for hiking, fishing and paddling. Off Route 346 in North Pownal, Vt., 802-823-7757, hoorwa.org.

Vermont Challenge 2016 — 5th annual cycling tour of New England, routes for low-key and adept riders, all day. Southern and Central Vermont over four days including a signature Gran, Medio and Piccolo Fondo for all riders on Saturday. vtchallenge.com

Vermont Summer Festival Horse Show — Vermont’s premier hunter/jumper competition: Olympic equestrians in events for $750,000 in prizes, Tuesday to Sunday, July 4 to Aug. 13. Six-week show on the Beebe Farm in East Dorset, Vt. vt-summerfestival.com

Woodford State Park — Hiking trails including 2.7-mile trail around the lake. Follow Route 9 east from Bennington to Woodford, Vt. 802-447-7169, vtstateparks.com


Berkshire region


Appalachian Trail — Appalachian Trail runs north and south throughout the Berkshire region in Western Massachusetts, through Department of Conservation and Recreation properties— Clarksburg State Forest, October Mountain State Forest, Mount Greylock State Reservation, Ashuwillticook Rail Trail, Beartown State Forest, Jug End State Reservation, Mount Washington State Forest and Mount Everett State Reservation. Also Dalton, Cheshire. appalachiantrail.org

Berkshire Natural Resources Council — Trails and properties maintained by nonprofit land conservation organization to protect farms, forests, streams and ridgelines. Weekly guided hikes. bnrc.net

Hoffmann Bird Club — Birding expeditions across Berkshire County and the region. hoffmannbirdclub.org.


Northern Berkshires


Bascom Lodge — Lodging, restaurant and mountains views on the Appalachain Trail and many more trails with talks, walks and performances Wednesdays and Sundays 6 p.m., free. Open Memorial Day to Columbus Day. Summit of Mount Greylock.

Cascades — Short, flat trail along the river to the waterfall. Small amount of parking at trail head on Marion Ave., off Route 2, just west of downtown North Adams (and just past Notch Road entrance to Mount Greylock).

Clark Art Institute — Trails up Stone Hill and through the woods on the museum property. Guided walks in connection with exhibit at the Stone Hill Center. 225 South St., Williamstown. clarkart.edu

Field Farm — A 1967 post-modern guest house designed by Ulrich Franzen for art collector Lawrence Bloedel. Tours compare architectural philosophies. Trails and grounds open daily, free, year-round, daily, sunrise to sunset. 554 Sloan Road, Williamstown, 413-458-3135, thetrustees.org.

HooRWA — Hoosic River Watershed Association leads walks, bike rides and paddles along the river, June to August in Williamstown and Southern Vermont. 413-458-2742, hoorwa.org

Hopkins Forest — Trails maintained by Williams College in Williamstown and along the Taconic crest. Trail heads on Northwest Hill Road in Williamstown and on Route 2 in Petersburgh, N.Y.. Spring and fall festivals with canopy walk, demonstrations, games, local food and live music. 413-597-4353 or williams.edu/CES/hopkins.htm

Hoosic River Watershed Assoc. — Guided one-hour historical, family-oriented river walks on Sept 13 and again on Oct. 11, at 11 a.m., leaving from the MASS MoCA parking lot. Self-guided brochures for this river walk are available at tourist information outlets in Adams, North Adams, and Williamstown. 413-212-2996, HoosicRiverRevival.org

Linear Park — Upper Linear Park trailhead at tennis court behind Greylock Insurance Agency on Route 2. Lower Linear Park along the Green River on Route 43 just south of the Route 2 intersection. Williamstown.

Mount Greylock State Reservation — Trails and entrances in Williamstown, North Adams, Adams and Lanesborough, open through mid-October. Hiking access to the Appalachian Trail, Scenic Byway, Veterans War Memorial, Bascom Lodge and breathtaking views. Auto road to summit. Visitors centers at 30 Rockwell Road in Lanesborough and 115 State St. in North Adams (Gateway Heritage State Park). Williamstown trail head to the Hopper and more through Mount Hope Park on Route 43. 413-499-4262, mass.gov/dcr/parks/western/mgry.htm.

Mountain Meadow — Wild meadows at the homesite of Grace Greylock Niles, the woman who wrote “Bog-Trotting for Orchids” a century ago. Entrances on Benedict Road in Pownal, Vt., and Mason Street in Willliamstown. Free. Trustees of Reservations. 413-458-3135, thetrustees.org

Natural Bridge — Geological phenomenon, arch carved by water into 550-million-year-old bedrock marble in 48-acre park. Follow Route 8 north from North Adams to entrance. Open 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. seasonally through Columbus Day. 413-663-6392, Massachusetts DCR.

Pine Cobble Trail — 2.1 miles of moderate to strenuous hiking through oak forest interspersed with white pines, expanse of 600-million-year-old gray Cheshire quartzite cliffs overlooking most of Northern Berkshire County from an elevation of 2,100 feet. Trail begins 0.1 miles north of North Hoosac Road on Pine Cobble Road in Williamstown. wrlf.org

Williamstown Rural Lands — Nature Center open weekdays 9 a.m. to 5 p.m., fields and trails on Sheep Hill at a former dairy farm. 671 Cold Spring Road, Route 7, Williamstown. 413-458-2494, wrlf.org

Windsor Lake — Free concerts on the shore 6:30 to 8 p.m. Wednesdays through Aug. 31. Kayaking, canoeing, swimming and fishing allowed. Bradley Street and Kemp Ave., North Adams. explorenorthadams.com


Central Berkshires


Arrowhead — Historic house where Herman Melville wrote “Moby-Dick” open May 23 to Oct. Grounds open free with walking trails, summer art exhibits, Michael Melle straw sculptures and nature trail. Fun on the Farm summer Mondays for preschool children. 780 Holmes Road, Pittsfield. 413-442-1793. mobydick.org

Ashuwillticook Rail Trail— Flat, paved trail from Cheshire to Adams, following the old railway line along Cheshire Lake and Route 8. Converted railroad corridor now a paved path running 11.2 miles from Adams to Lanesborough. Access at Visitors Center in downtown Adams, Cheshire Lake on Route 8, near the Berkshire Mall in Lanesborough or along the route. 413-442-8928 or mass.gov/dcr/parks/western/asrt.htm

Bryant Homestead — Boyhood home and later summer retreat of American poet, abolitionist, conservationist and editor William Cullen Bryant. House open 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. Saturday and Sunday for tours. 2-mile Rivulet Trail to old-growth trees, hemlock and cherry, fields and sugarbush and stream in Bryant’s 1823 poem. Grounds open free year-round. 207 Bryant Road, Cummington. National Historic Landmark. Trustees of Reservations, 413-532-1631 ext. 3110, thetrustees.org.

Canoe Meadows — Mass Audubon property with trails, boardwalks, ponds and wetlands on Holmes Road, Pittsfield. 413-637-0320, massaudubon.org

Cheshire Cobble — Section of the Appalachian Trail in Cheshire follows a switchback to views of the valley. Parking at the Ashuwillticook Rail Trail or on Main Street. Trail head without parking on Furnace Hill Road. appalachiantrail.org

Chesterfield Gorge — A dramatic rock canyon first carved by centuries of glacial melt water and the Westfield River, the gorge is the gateway to the East Branch Trail. Open during the warm season, daily, from sunrise to sundown, for hiking, picnicking, mountain biking, anglers. River Road, Chesterfield. 413-532-1631.

Glendale Falls — A quarter-mile trail to the falls and a wood road to land owned by the Massachusetts Division of Fish & Wildlife. From intersection of Routes 143 and 112 in Worthington, take Route 143 West to River Road. Turn right onto Clark Wright Road to entrance. 413-532-1631

Hancock Shaker Village — Living history, farm animals, gardens, CSA Farm and trails. Farm and Forest Trail on village grounds and trailhead for “Mount Sinai” hiking trails across from the main village. Routes 20 and 41, Pittsfield. 413-443-0188. hancockshakervillage.org

Notchview Reservation — Twenty-five miles of trails, historic hayfields and pastures, stone walls and cellar holes. Open from sunup to sundown, daily, year round. Visitor Center with picnic area and rest rooms. 83 Old Route 9, Windsor. 413-684-0148.

Onota Lake — Lifeguards on duty at the public beach periodically in summer, check at cityofpittsfield.org

Pittsfield State Forest — 65 acres of wild azaleas in bloom in June. Berry Pond, one of the highest natural bodies of water in the state. 30 miles of trails. 1041 Cascade St., Pittsfield. 413-442-8992, mass.gov

Pleasant Valley Sanctuary — Mass Audubon property with trails, ponds and boardwalks, canoe trips and nature programs year-round. 472 West Mountain Road, Lenox. Berkshire Sanctuaries, 413-637-0320, massaudubon.org

Springside Park — Trails across 237 acres of woods and meadows. Master Gardeners workshops select Saturday mornings. Master Gardeners often at work in the demo behind Springside House gardens before “Tuesday Night in the Park” music series. Springside Park, upper North Street, Pittsfield. Gardeners— 413-743-5193. Park— 413- 347-3812.

Taconic Crest Trail — 35 miles of trail along the ridge from Pittsfield north into New York and Vermont with access in Pittsfield along Route 20 and in Williamstown at the trail head on Petersburgh Pass (Route 2) in Hopkins Forest.

Tamarack Hollow — Highland valley nature and cultural center in boreal forest. Hikes on the property and in neighboring conservation lands in Windsor and Savoy with naturalist Aimee Gelinas. 1515 Savoy Hollow Road, Windsor. 413-584-3009, tamarackhollow.com.

Windsor Jambs — Windsor State Forest with granite gorge, waterfall, sandy beach along Westfield River. Entrance off Route 9 or Toute 116 in Windsor. 413-339-5504, mass.gov


Southern Berkshires


Ashintully Gardens — Grounds of Berkshire Cottage estate, trails and gardens open 1 to 5 p.m. Wednesdays and Saturdays, June 1 to Oct. 8. Hike to the ruins of the former mansion or explore the landscaped paths and water ways created over the course of decades by John McLennan, a composer of modern music. Free. Soden Road, Tyringham, Trustees of Reservations. 413-298-3239

Bartholomew’s Cobble — River and unique wood and meadow habitat with bald eagles, turtles and abundant wildlife: 800 species of plants and one of North America’s greatest diversities of ferns. Hikes and nature programs. Housatonic River guided canoe trips 9 a.m. Saturdays and Sundays, June 3 to Sept. 4, and Canoe rentals available Saturdays and Sundays, noon to 4 p.m. June 3 to Sept. 4. Open year-round, daily, sunrise to sunset; museum and visitors center open year-round, daily, 9 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. Eco Volunteers meet 9 a.m. to noon Thursdays. Trustees of Reservations, 105 Weatogue Road, Sheffield. 413-229-8600.

Beartown State Forest — 1.5 mile Benedict Pond Loop Trail open year-round. From Route 23 in Monterey, turn left on Blue Hill Road, follow signs. mass.gov/dcr or 413-528-0904

Bear Swamp — Three miles of trails with moderate hiking, strenuous in places. From the intersection of Route 112, Route 116, and Hawley Road in Ashfield, follow Hawley Road to entrance on left. mass.gov/dcr

Becket Land Trust — Becket historic quarry and trails. Quarry Museum and self-guided tour of nature preserve and 100 years of history. Becket Historic Quarry permanent exhibit now open at Mullen House Education Center. Trails open in daylight hours year round. Quarry off Route 20, 456 Quarry Road, Becket. Mullen House off-site exhibits and office at 12 Brooker Hill Road (corner Route 8), North Becket Village. becketlandtrust.org. 413-623-2100

Berkshire Botanical Garden — Play Date: Playhouses in the Garden: summer exhibit of whimsical play spaces for the garden, imagined by local artists, artisans and designers — timber frame cottages, a shepherd’s wagon, twig buildings, a treehouse and more, May 27 to Sept. 24. Contained Exuberance, annual exhibition of decorative container gardens created by designers, Aug. 12 to Sept. 24. Center House reopens with galleries, a teaching kitchen, a botanical library and classroom. Twenty-six display areas including perennials, thousands of annuals, rock, rose, pond, children’s and native plant gardens. Playhouses exhibit. Three greenhouses, an arboretum and a woodland preserve. Open daily 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. through Columbus Day, tours 11 a.m. Monday to Saturday. Route 183 and Route 102, Stockbridge. 413-298-3926, berkshirebotanical.org.

Great Barrington Land Conservancy — Outdoor walks and talks across town through the summer and fall. 413-528-4160, greatbarringtonlandconservancy.org

Great Barrington River Walk — Native landscaped path along the Housatonic River in downtown Great Barrington and National Recreation Trail; entrances at 195 Main St., River Street, Bridge Street and Dresser Ave. W.E.B. Du Bois River Garden Park. William Stanley Overlook. Laboratory for natural resource progection and stewardship. Volunteer days Thursdays. Open in daylight hours, free. 413-528-3391, gbriverwalk.com.

Housatonic Heritage Area — Trails and historic sites along the river from Connecticut to Berkshire County. heritage-hikes.org.

Housatonic Valley Association — Paddle trips on the Housatonic River. hvatoday.org

Jug End State Reservation — Two-mile Jug End Loop Trail through open fields, northern hardwood and Eastern Hemlock woodlands. From Route 41 in South Egremont, take a right onto Mount Washington Road and to Jug End Road, to entrance.  413-528-0330, mass.gov/dcr

Lime Kiln — Mass Audubon property with 2 miles of walking trails, 568 Silver St., Sheffield. 413-637-0320, massaudubon.org

McLennan Reservation — 1.5 moderate miles. From Tyringham center, take Tyringham Main Road south. Turn left onto Fenn Road (dirt road). Park at the roadside and walk to entrance, 413-298-3239,  thetrustees.org

Monument Mountain — Moderate loop trails and beautiful views at the top. Admission is free. Route 7, Great Barrington. Trustees of Reservations, 413-298-3239, ext. 3020.

Mount Washington State Forest — Thirty miles of trails over rugged terrain, wilderness camping. Hike the South Taconic Trail to the 2,250-foot summit of Alander Mountain for amazing views. From Route 41 in South Egremont, take a quick right onto Mount Washington Road and follow to park entrance. mass.gov/dcr or 413-528-0330.

Naumkeag — Historic home of the Choate family designed in the 1880s by McKim, Mead & White, with world-famous gardens by Fletcher Steele: Chinese Gardens, Blue Steps. Open Memorial Day to Columbus Day. Yoga 9 a.m. Mondays July 4 to Aug. 29. Art of Cut Flowers, 10 a.m. in the cutting garden, Wednesdays July 13 to Sept. 28. 5 Prospect Hill Road, Stockbridge. 413-298-3239 (weekdays), 413-298-8138 (weekends). Trustees of Reservations, thetrustees.org.

October Mountain State Forest — Scenic trails leads including Schermerhorn Gorge, which has intrigued generations of geologists. mass.gov/dcr or 413-243-1778, 413-499-9370.

Pleasant Valley Sanctuary — Mass Audubon property with trails, ponds and boardwalks, canoe trips and nature programs year-round. 472 West Mountain Road, Lenox. Berkshire Sanctuaries, 413-637-0320, massaudubon.org

Tyringham Cobble — Walk through mountain meadows and up hillside trails to watch for bobolinks. Jerusalem Road, Tyringham. Trustees of Reservations.


New York State


Garden Conservancy — Garden tours through the summer in Connecticut, Massachusetts, New York, Vermont. No reservations; rain or shine. For times and places — 888-842-2442 or opendaysprogram.org.