Few American landscapes are as storied as the Berkshires. From Hawthorne and Melville to Thoreau and Wharton, many of America's most enduring writers have walked, lived in, and written about these western Massachusetts hills, their gentle grandeur and sylvan romance. And as these venerable nineteenth-century inhabitants and visitors discovered, any of the four seasons is a good time to experience the great Berkshire outdoors.
Though it is the sixth smallest state in land area, Massachusetts boasts the sixth largest state park and forest system in the US. A majority of these public lands lie within the borders of Berkshire county, with 21 parks scattered across the mountains, valleys, streams, and forests. Criss-crossed with trails and covered with campsites, these parks form the heart of the Berkshires outdoor experience.
But there's even more to do. The Audubon Society of Massachusetts maintains two Berkshire wildlife sanctuaries, where birds and other indigenous animals can live undisturbed (except by tourists, natch) in their original habitats. The Mohawk Trail is the state's most famous scenic drive, following Route 2 from Greenfield to Williamstown. 86 miles of the Appalachian Trail run through the Berkshires, stretching from the Connecticut border to Vermont's Green Mountain National Forest.
Traveling in this verdant country, it's hard not to want to aspire to the same heights of literary and artistic homage America's greats have placed at the feet of the Berkshires. But when you find yourself casting a line into a cool granite-bottomed creek or staring out across five different states from the summit of Massachusetts' highest peak, you might take some satisfaction that, whatever your powers of poetic expression, no words can ultimately encompass the beauty of this place.
Don't trust us, though. Start with GORP's Berkshires picksdestinations and excursions that showcase the area's striking terrain and broad array of recreation optionsand see for yourself.
Details mentioned in this article were accurate at the time of publication