On the right weekend in June, the azaleas bloom above Berry pond — acres of azaleas. They fill the hillside with pink petals and light scent and a hum of bees. Head up through Pittsfield State Forest to the top of the rise, and the road climbs out of the woods to look out across New York State, and the bushes grow wild.

We have life and beauty here. Plants and animals thrive in the Berkshires, sometimes where you expect them and sometimes where you don’t. Moose walk on the highest ridges, and black bear forage at dusk. Some of our neighbors are shy, and finding them may take a trip into the back country. Some live closer by — driving with the windows down, you may turn a corner and wait for a porcupine to amble up the shoulder of the road.

And some of the marvels are closer to home, even if you haven’t seen them before. Under a hand lens, a leaf holds jade-green butterfly eggs. Bobolinks nest in tall grass, and when they bob up to look out, the tops of their heads show bright yellow. Naturalists lead guided walks to share our woods and fields, and sometimes you head up an old trail and find a flash of life by sheer luck.

Come outdoors

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Clark Art Institute

Renoir rubs elbows with Rodin, and the reflecting pool glows between northeast granite and classical marble. The Clark Art Institute holds a collection of Impressionists and more on a campus re-imagined by Tadao Ando.


Berkshire Museum

The Berkshire Museum covers a lot of ground — local history and natural history, science and art. It has stood at the center of the county for more than 100 years.


Canoe Meadows

Mass Audubon, the statewide conservation nonprofit, protects four wildlife sanctuaries in the Central and Southern Berkshires. At Canoe Meadows in Pittsfield, flat and easy trails wander along the Housatonic River, sheltering migrating birds and butterflies in the meadow, and otters and turtles along the water (and now and then a bear).



In a studio with tall windows letting in the north light, Daniel Chester French created the figure of Abraham Lincoln for the Lincoln Memorial in Washington D.C. Today contemporary sculpture lines the paths and gardens in the summer and fall.


Dream Away Lodge

The Dream Away Lodge is a road house, a locally sourced restaurant, a lounge and a labyrinth … its a 200-year-old farmhouse on the edge of October Mountain State Forest in Becket, and it has been a center of live music for decades.


Field Farm

Nature and Modern art mingle at Field Farm in Williamstown. The Trustees of Reservations maintains the outoor sculpture garden and trails— open to the public from sunrise to sunset all year — and runs the house as a Bed and Breakfast, and they will open the Folly for art tours occasionally through the summer and fall.


Hilltop Orchards

At Hilltop Orchards, the Vittori family grow apples and make cider and wine on 200 acres. A brother and sister, John and Wendy, bought the orchard more than 30 years ago and preserved the land. They have a farm store and trails open year-round.



The Hoosic River Watershed association is a group of local people who want to restore and conserve the river and bring people to enjoy it — paddling, biking and wandering along the bank or soaking your feet as you watch a migrating solitary sandpiper at the water’s edge.


Lime Kiln

Two loops of trail cross the pasture lands of an old farm, past a seasonal pond and wetlands, and hayfields where bluebirds nest, and 50 kinds of butterflies forage. Signs of the old farm remain in stone walls and the historic kiln that gives the sanctuary its name.



The gardens of the Choate family’s Gilded Age ‘cottage’ have a name around the world for their Blue Stairs, tree peonies and roses, and they invite the community in year-round.


Pleasant Valley

Mass Audubon, the statewide conservation nonprofit, protects four wildlife sanctuaries in the Central and Southern Berkshires. At Pleasant Valley in Lenox, their local headquarters lead into a boardwalk around a beaver pond and trails climb the slopes of Lenox Mountain.


The Mount

Edith Wharton, the first woman to win the Pulitzer Prize, wrote many of her best-known novels in this house, in the 10 years she lived in Lenox — from The House of Mirth to Ethan Frome. Her house is now a museum, a center of writing, music and performance, landscape and gardens, dedicated to keeping her spirit alive.


Tracy Brook

In early June, the herons are nesting. Mass Audubon protects one of the largest blue heronries in the county at one of the newest sanctuaries, a wetland and woodland on Tracy Brook in Richmond. It has no marked trails, but guided walks explore the area.