Berkshires in Massachusetts, New England draw millions of nature lovers each fall when the scenic allure of the area reaches its peak. With the fall foliage of hardwood forests turning amber and gold, Berkshires has long been an indisputable destination for meditative walks. Now, a new route across the region’s spine is going to transform this into a hiking trail, like an American spin on the popular European-style walking holiday. Named the High Road, this hiking trail is going to connect travelers to the leafy towns of Massachusetts for nature therapy, with stops at cozy inns full of creature comforts.
The High Road Project
Once completed, the High Road hiking trail will offer travelers direct access to conservation lands and wildlife preserves. This New England town-to-trails pathway will also include charming mountain towns like Lenox and Great Barrington. Unlike traditional hikes, which usually require putting up tents and carrying heavy backpacks, the travelers on this trail would be able to refuel at local eateries and enjoy cozy comforts at night in local inns and B&Bs.
According to Deanna Oliveri, the project manager with BNRC, or Berkshires Natural Resources Council, this High Road project possesses two main ideas – showcasing nature like the European interconnected walking tours, and more access to the pristine conservation lands of the region. Oliveri explained that this New England trail focuses on rekindling the ancient tradition of pilgrimage routes, adding a more modern goal of improving public access to the outdoors.
The Lenox-Pittsfield Trail
The new route of High Road will contain seven or eight 10-mile pathway segments, running from north to south through the mountains and their resident communities. Currently, only one segment is open for travelers with two trailheads. One of them is at the Kripalu Yoga Center campus in Lenox and the other is at the Bousquet Mountain Ski Resort in Pittsfield. The central attraction of this section is the Yokun Ridge, a hulking foundation of conjoined mountain peaks, thick with a scenic and diverse array of boreal and deciduous forests.
Along the route, Lenox Mountain is the highest point, offering panoramic views of idyllic farms, natural ponds, and the neighboring Taconic Range of New York. The Mahanna Cobble viewpoint overlooks the Bousquet Mountain trailhead revealing pristine expansive woodlands. Mount Greylock, the tallest mountain in this New England region, offers a stunning view of the region’s iconic fall colors. At both ends of the route, Lenox and Pittsfield towns welcome hikers with cozy comfort and decadent delicacies in their Queen Ann cottages and flowering patios.
The Hidden Gems of Nature Books
Like most things in life, you have to understand something to appreciate it better. Especially in 2020, when people were forced to stay inside, and the great outdoors suddenly became that much more interesting to some. Well, to really understand the soul of hiking and being in nature, it’s best to do some research. Here are three amazing books to help introduce you to the heart of the natural world.
1. Walden by Henry David Thoreau
Originally published in 1854, Thoreau’s work is one of the greatest books dedicated to simple living in natural surroundings. The book details the two years, two months, and two days that Thoreau spent living in a cabin he built near Walden Pond. With a fantastic style of writing that pulls you in instantly, Walden takes the reader on an adventure inside the mind of a true outdoorsman who has a romantic soul.
2. Desert Solitaire by Edward Abbey
Desert Solitaire was first published in 1968, and it is the autobiographical work of American writer Edward Abbey. A true naturalist, Abbey’s style and language isn’t everyone’s cup of tea, but if you keep an open mind, this book has so much to teach you. Today Desert Solitaire is widely recognized as a staple in early environmentalist writing. It focuses on the impact of the desert on society on a multifaceted level. Abbey was a seasonal ranger at Arches National Monument, which was the starting point for his inspiration to write about the desserts of the American Southwest.
3. Heart of Darkness by Joseph Conrad
Heart of Darkness is one of those books that you didn’t know you needed to read until you read the first page. Conrad’s sheer talent of description has a magnetic pull that keeps you engaged in the story and hungry for more details. The story follows a narrated voyage up the Congo River, which the author himself had once experienced. It’s a fantastic and reminiscent look at a moment in time and a timeless idea of society’s roles.