First-time visitors to the Berkshires are in for a treat of serene beauty as fall descends on this northeastern plain. Roadtrips, long walks and adventurous hikes are all a must for an autumn vacation.
Take in expansive views of western Massachusetts, eastern New York and southern Vermont at Mount Greylock’s 3,491-foot peak, the highest in the state. Off of Route 7 in Lanesborough, surmount the mountain either by driving the eight-mile road to the top or by hiking up along a part of the historic Appalachian Trail. Every year, Columbus Day is the day of the annual Mount Greylock Ramble, a draw for anywhere from 3,000 to 7,000 hikers from all corners of the globe. An additional 70 or 100 miles of visibility (in clear conditions) is possible from the top of the 100-foot-high War Memorial Tower at the summit. Fifty total miles of trails make for great side trips and wanderings even after you’ve taken in the view from the top.
Next, take a trip back in time along Route 7 to Monument Mountain, the 503-acre state park reservation in Great Barrington. Hike up this vast vista, named for the Mohican maiden who jumped from the rocks over a forbidden love. The three-mile walk offers stunning views along trails where literary great such as Oliver Wendell Holmes, Nathaniel Hawthorne, and Herman Melville once walked. These latter two Berkshire residents first met during a mountain picnic in 1850. It’s easy to imagine how their creative minds thrived among the colorful foliage on the mountainside. Beauty like this may just inspire you to great literary heights, too. Bring a notebook and jot down your musings.
In the valley of Monument Mountain, wander the apple orchards of Windy Hill Farms, where the amateur fruit-picker can choose from more than 20 types of apples, including Macoun, McIntosh, Empire and Honeycrisp. Pickers are given a bag with a
map highlighting which apples are currently ripe. The amateur orchard farmer can then wander the rows, picking those apple varieties, among others, from the well-kept trees.
Some of the fruit trees even support multiple varieties of apples, a benefit of grafting techniques employed by
the farm. At the garden center, the
now-experienced picker can enjoy natural, fresh-pressed sweet cider
and a wide selection of plants,
including apple trees for sale. Windy Hill Farms is open daily from 9 a.m. -
5 p.m. and is located on Route 7 North, Great Barrington;
call 413-298-3217 for more.