The ridges are open. They stretch to the horizon. We call them the purple mountains — the Berkshire hills. They run along the western edge of Massachusetts, along the New York border. The land rises into high valleys, and the Appalachain trail runs through them north to south. What can you do outdoors in the Berkshires? Hike, climb, swim, bike … and see for miles.

In Covid-19 in the Berkshires we have trails and rivers and mountains to climb, and our gardens and parks are re-opening …

Protected land surrounds land people have shaped and used for thousands of years. Come outdoors and you can listen to jazz in a Gilded Age garden or backpack for as long as it takes to catch your breath.

Where can you hike in the Berkshires?

We have a wide network of trails, some rugged and some gentle. The Appalachian Trail runs through the county north to south, from the Connecticut line to the Green Mountains in Vermont, and at the top of the county it climbs our hightest hill.

Mount Greylock has had its own local lore long before J.K. Rowling set Ilvermorny on top of it (to found her her North American school of magic). The summit is high enough to hold an island of boreal forest, northern woodlands more common in Canada.  From the lighthouse memorial and the 1930s WPA lodge, a through-hiker can look out across hundreds of arts and cultural sites and miles of unbroken forest.

The Berkshires shelters rare and unusual places. You may find a marble arch at Natural Bridge in North Adams, a floating bog in Savoy, calcareous fens in Stockbridge … or butterflies in the meadows.

Photo by T. Kates

Hikes

We keep open space open in the Berkshires the valleys along the Hoosic River in the north and the Housatonic in the south. Come outdoors and the ridges lift to the horizon in unbroken green.

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Berkshire Botanical Garden

Gardens

Berkshire gardens can be grand with lime walks and sculpture. Or they can be unexpected and beautifully simple. Old estates designed lime walks and sculpture, and lilac blooms in old town parks.

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Photo by Kate Abbott

Natural History

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 in Pittsfield State Forest. Plants and animals thrive in the Berkshires, sometimes where you expect them and sometimes where you don’t.

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Photo by Kate Abbott

Gardening

“… For example, snapdragon flowers will only open if stepped on by a bee of just the right weight.” Wing and a Prayer native plant nursery offers thoughts on gardening, even in the pandemic, and they are in good company.

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Mount Greylock / Photo by Kate Abbott

Mount Greylock

The highest park in the state, and the oldest, Mount Greylock has held its own legends long before J.K. Rowling named it the site of the oldest wizarding school in North America.

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