Berkshires Places

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Great Barrington

Hiking

Bartholomew's Cobble. This rock garden beside the Housatonic River (the Native American name means "river beyond the mountains") is a National Natural Landmark with 5 miles of hiking trails passing through fields of wildflowers. The 277-acre site has a visitor center and museum, in addition to the state's largest cottonwood trees. 105 Weatogue Rd., Sheffield, MA, 01257. 413/229–8600. $5. Daily dawn–dusk.

A 90-mile swath of the Appalachian Trail cuts through the Berkshires. You'll also find hundreds of miles of trails elsewhere throughout the area's forests and parks.

Appalachian Trail. If you've always dreamed of hiking the Appalachian Trail, consider this moderately strenuous 45-minute hike. At the top of the trail is Ice Gulch, a gorge so deep and cold that there is often ice in it even in summer. Follow the Ice Gulch ridge to the shelter and a large flat rock from which you can see a wide panorama of the valley. Lake Buel Rd., Great Barrington, MA. www.appalachiantrail.org.

Monument Mountain. For great views with minimal effort, hike Monument Mountain, famous as a spot for literary inspiration. Nathaniel Hawthorne and Herman Melville trekked it on August 5, 1850, and sought shelter in a cave when a thunderstorm hit. There they discussed ideas that would become part of a novel called Moby-Dick. While poet William Cullen Bryant stayed in the area, he penned a lyrical poem, "Monument Mountain," about a lovesick Mohican maiden who jumped to her death from the cliffs. Feel like hiking? An easy 2.5-mile loop is reachable via a parking lot. U.S. 7, near Rte. 102, Great Barrington, MA. 413/298–3239. www.thetrustees.org.

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