Fall in the Berkshires means brightly colored leaves and cooler nights. Drive into the mountains on Route 2 (the 65-mile stretch between Greenfield and Williamstown is known as the Mohawk Trail) for an endless, awe-inspiring view of crimson, orange and gold. Or get scrambling to the top of some our peaks and high points.
Go to Mt. Greylock, Massachusetts' highest peak, for the granddaddy view of them all. Off of Route 7 in Lanesborough, the mountain offers sweeping views of western Massachusetts, eastern New York and southern Vermont from its 3,491-foot summit. You can either drive the 8-mile road to the top, or hike on part of the Appalachian Trail. This year's Columbus Day marks the 40th anniversary of the annual Mt. Greylock Ramble, which draws anywhere from three to seven thousand hikers from all over the world. The 100-foot-high War Memorial Tower at the summit extends the view to 70 or 100 miles in clear conditions (open posted hours). Fifty total miles of trails make for great side trips and wanderings even after you've taken
view from the top.
Inside tip: Try the vista off of Sperry Road, a left turn about halfway up the summit road.
Another classic is Monument Mountain, a 503-acre state park reservation in Great Barrington. You'll want to allow about an hour and a half for the three-mile trail to the top of Squaw Peak, named for the Mohican maiden who jumped from the rocks over a forbidden love. (A small monument marks where she landed, and gives the mountain its name.) Look for hemlock, maple and birch trees aflame with color along the way and up at the top. And writers, take heart: Nathaniel Hawthorne, Oliver Wendell Holmes and Herman Melville enjoyed a hike here in 1850, when the three discussed an idea for Melville's upcoming book - Moby Dick.
Head south to Bish Bash Falls in Mount Washington State Forest and you'll not only find great views, you'll also get to enjoy them from alongside the most spectacular waterfall in the Berkshires. The waters of Bash Bish Brook plunge 200 feet at the falls, which are divided partway down by a pulpit-like granite outcropping before tumbling into a pool. Splash around in the swimming hole at the bottom, then relax over a picnic lunch assembled from local market fare. Down the road you'll find farm stands and orchards where you can pick your own apples. (They'll supply the cider.) For a real challenge, head up Alander Mountain; the extremes of this hike are remarkable by any set of criteria. The open ridge of the 2,239-foot mountain has a fine view west to the Catskills and, if the weather is clear, even to the tall building in Albany, New York.