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Best Day Hikes in the Berkshires

February 10, 2016

The following day hikes come from AMC’s Best Day Hikes in the Berkshires. Fore more information, check out the book.

1. BASH BISH FALLS

Bash Bish Falls

A tale of two trails: Choose either an easy stroll to Massachusetts’ most spectacular waterfall, and a short, steep climb for a fine view of Bash Bish Gorge, New York’s Harlem Valley, and the distant Catskill Mountains; or a strenuous loop hike made challenging by a stream ford and a steep ascent of Bash Bish Mountain. Both pay ample dividends.

  • Location: Mount Washington, MA; Copake Falls, NY
  • Rating: Easy to Moderate or Moderate to Strenuous, depending on route
  • Distance: 2.0 or 2.6 miles
  • Elevation Gain: 470 or 900 feet
  • Estimated Time: 1.5 or 2.5 hours
  • Features: Dogs allowed, snow-shoeing
  • Maps: AMC Massachusetts Trail Map #2: C1; USGS Copake Falls, Bash Bish Falls

Short Trail Description (for a complete description, see AMC’s Best Day Hikes in the Berkshires)
A hard hike over secluded terrain and long stretches of open ridge to perhaps the very best view in the Berkshires. In a region known for spectacular views, the hike along the summit ridge of Alander Mountain may very well be the most impressive in the Berkshires. On a clear day different vantage points along the ridge offer a variety of vistas that seem to roll on forever. In addition to the stunning view, this strenuous hike takes you through miles of a pitch pine–scrub oak plant community that is home to many rare and endangered plants and animal species.

Legend has it that Bash Bish Falls takes its name from a beautiful Mahican princess named Bash Bish, who was sent over the falls in a canoe to her death as punishment for suspected adultery. Whether true or fanciful, the legend adds romantic appeal to an already evocative scene.

 

2. JUG END STATE RESERVATION AND WILDLIFE MANAGEMENT AREA

Jug End Loop

Bucolic meadows with a stunning backdrop of ridges clothed in mixed woodlands beckon hikers to enjoy a landscape reverting to a time before commercial development. This is a great hike to take with young children, and a fine place to bird watch or cross-country ski.

  • Location: Egremont, MA
  • Rating: Easy
  • Distance: 2.9 miles
  • Elevation Gain: 365 feet
  • Estimated Time: 1.5 hours
  • Features: Family-friendly, dogs allowed, X-C skiing, snow-shoeing
  • Maps: USGS Great Barrington; trail map available online and may also be available at parking area

Short Trail Description (for a complete description, see AMC’s Best Day Hikes in the Berkshires)
The Jug End Loop Trail begins at the far (south) end of the parking area near the concrete footing of the former barn’s silo. The massive deluxe cattle barn that once stood here was turned into a hotel in 1935. A brief climb in two steps leads to an old wood road where you turn right to follow blue blazes. Sugar maple, white ash, and black cherry form a canopy over the path. Signs of former habitation include daffodil and yew plantings and lengths of rusty barbed wire. A substantial stone walls dissects the meadow below to your right. Up the slope to your left is an old apple orchard.

The somewhat odd name Jug End is actually derived from the German word Jugend, meaning “youth.” For 40 years, beginning in the 1930s, the property was a booming year-round resort and ski area known as Jug End Barn. Many young people enjoyed family visits to the Jug End Resort.

 

3. PINE COBBLE AND EAST MOUNTAIN

Pine Cobble

A partial-loop hike up the sunny oak- and sheep laurel–covered slopes of East Mountain, the southern terminus of the Green Mountains, to a quartzite- and pitch pine–studded summit and some of the most stunning views in the region.

  • Location: Williamstown and Clarksburg, MA
  • Rating: Moderate
  • Distance: 4.8 miles
  • Elevation Gain: 1,340 feet
  • Estimated Time: 3.0 hours
  • Features: Dogs allowed, snow-shoeing
  • Maps: AMC Massachusetts Trail Map #1: B3; USGS Williamstown

Short Trail Description (for a complete description, see AMC’s Best Day Hikes in the Berkshires)
Pine Cobble is Williamstown’s most popular short hike to a quartzite limestone summit overlooking the Hoosic Valley and the Greylock Range. The short, scenic hike to Pine Cobble (1,893 feet) is Williamstown’s most popular short outing. This hike lies north of the Hoosic River on the southernmost slopes of the Green Mountains less than 2.0 miles from the Vermont border. What makes Pine Cobble such an interesting landmark is its position between the Greylock massif, the Green Mountains, the Hoosac Range, and the eastern slopes of the rambling Northern Taconics, where the Green River valley and the fertile farm flats of the Hoosic floodplain sprawl out before you

Glacial Lake Bascom, which inundated the Hoosic River Valley from today’s Cheshire, Massachusetts, to the Vermont border for 800 years, and Bascom Lodge on Mount Greylock are both named for John Bascom (1827–1911). He was a Williams College alum and faculty member, and one of the first Greylock Reservation Commissioners, appointed in 1898.

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