O
n a still day, a canoe will drift gently in mid-river. You can curl into the bank for a closer look at an otter slide. A blue heron takes off from the shallows, where it was standing on one leg, watching for green frogs.

We keep open space open up here in the valleys along the Hoosic River in the north and the Housatonic in the south. When the ridges lift to the horizon in unbroken green — or a line of slate and snow and birch catches the winter light — we find ourselves breathing deeply. And we are reclaiming the rivers that powered mills here a hundred years ago.

You can find white water too, or bike along a reservoir on an old railroad track. Outdoors in the Berkshires you can hike into the back-country for miles to sleep out under the stars.

Hiking Trails and Places to Explore

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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).

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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.

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HooRWA

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.

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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.

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