Scenic Day Trip #1 - North Central Berkshires
North Central Berkshires - 64 Miles
NORTH CENTRAL BERKSHIRES - 64 MILES
Discover the charm of Berkshire County-its rich historic legacy, its agrarian past exemplified by neat white farmhouses and fields of vegetation standing in soldierly rows, its enchanting beauty of rugged, tree-shrouded mountains and lush green valleys. Driving tours, like this one through the north-central area, make the diverse landscape of the Berkshires more accessible.
Park Square, located in Pittsfield, is the starting point for this tour. The main arteries of Pittsfield - East, West, North and South Streets - meet at Park Square. On the east side of South Street just before the Square is the Berkshire Museum, one of the finest regional museums of art and natural history, with an aquarium, concert series, film series and Museum Shop. Across the Square and one block east on East Street stands the Berkshire Athenaeum, Pittsfield's public library. The Athenaeum's Herman Melville Memorial Room contains works, personal effects and pictures of the author of "Moby Dick." On the opposite corner (west) is the Berkshire County Courthouse. On its lawn is the Berkshire County Holocaust Memorial Monument donated by the people of Berkshire County to commemorate the 11 million people who died in the Holocaust of World War II. One block from Park Square, on the east side of North Street is Fenn Street. Walk down Fenn Street and take the first left where you will come to the Berkshire Artisans Gallery located in the Lichtenstein Center for the Arts. Juried exhibitions in a variety of art forms are changed on a regular basis. Return to North Street which becomes Route 7 and head to Wahconah Street. Turn left onto Wahconah Street and shortly you'll see historic Wahconah Park, home of the Pittsfield Mets, a Class A affiliate of the New York Mets with home games June through September. Continue north on Wahconah Street to Route 7 and turn left (north) to Lanesborough, the birthplace of American humorist Josh Billings, who is buried in the village cemetery. Just north of the cemetery, turn right onto Berkshire Road. The first left off Berkshire Road leads through farming country to Route 8, just south of the village of Cheshire. Cheshire is known for the 1,235-pound cheese made by the hamlet's farmers in 1801 and sent to President Jefferson. A life-size replica of the cider press in which the large cheese was made is located on Church Street, the first left off Route 8. Return to Route 8 which runs above Hoosac Lake and leads directly to Adams where Mount Greylock, the state's highest peak (3,491 feet), towers over the community to the west. The center of Adams is easily identified by a large statue of President McKinley on McKinley Square. A turn left onto Maple Street leads to the Old Quaker Meeting House of 1781, a memorial to the Society of Friends who settled here and thrived until about 1850.
Return to McKinley Monument and turn north again on Route 8 and then turn right about 100 yards further on Hoosac Street. Hoosac Street becomes East Hoosac Street leading up Hoosac Mountain to East Road. Travel south on East Road to Route 116 easterly to the mountains of Savoy and Windsor.
At the southern limit of the farm community of Savoy, a well-marked route (River Road) turns right off Route 116 leading to Windsor Jambs in the Windsor State Forest. The Jambs, one of the most scenic areas in the Berkshires, has swimming, camping and picnicking facilities. The Jambs is a gorge formed over the centuries by the brook which is the outlet of Windsor Pond.
Leaving the Jambs on the same secondary road paralleling the Westfield River, take a left onto Route 9 in Cummington then turn right onto Route 112 South to reach the William Cullen Bryant Homestead, home of the poet in his early years and later life. The Homestead is intact with furnishings dating from the 18th century to the Victorian Period.
Returning to Route 9, turn left and go up the Berkshire Trail toward Windsor. On the right is the entrance to Notchview Reservation, a 3,000 acre preserve owned by The Trustees of Reservations. Its 15 miles of trails which run through field and forest are popular for hiking, bird watching, and cross-country skiing. At the foot of the Berkshire Trail is Wahconah Falls, a stunning waterfall designated a State Park. Route 9 leads directly to Dalton and the Crane Paper Company, manufacturers of fine stationery, including all the paper on which U.S. currency is printed. Behind the company headquarters (on Route 9) is the Crane Museum, exhibiting the history of American paper making. Continue straight through the Coltsville intersection on Route 9 onto Dalton Avenue which becomes Tyler Street. Turn left off Tyler Street back onto North Street to head back to Park Square.
Editor's note: For more information on this and eight other day trips, pick up a copy of "Touring the Berkshires and the Mohawk Trail," available at the Berkshires Visitors Bureau, Berkshire Common, Plaza Level, Pittsfield, (413) 443-9186. Or write to The Mohawk Trail Association, P.O. Box 2031, Charlemont, MA 01339 or call (413) 664-6256.