The Berkshire Hills are in Berkshire County at the western end of Massachusetts. They are actually three separate mountain ranges, separated by the valleys of the Housatonic River in the south and the Hoosic River in the north. East of the valleys a hilly plateau rising as high as 2,600 ft (790 m) extends eastward toward the Connecticut River. Beyond the limits of Berkshire County it is known as the Hilltowns and is covered in the Pioneer Valley region. West of the valleys the narrower Taconic Range rises along the New York state border. The third Berkshire range is Mount Greylock, at 3,487 ft (1,063 m) Massachusetts' high point, and its satellite peaks rising out of the valley between two upper branches of the Hoosac River.
Although the Berkshires were historically part of New England's traditions of intellectualism, idealism, subsistence farming, logging, and early industrialization, they are almost equidistant between New York and Boston. Because New York has grown considerably larger and wealthier, the Berkshires are increasingly drawn into its economic and cultural orbit.
Cities and townsEdit
- 1 Adams - Birthplace of Susan B. Anthony.
- 2 Becket - the home of Jacob's Pillow Dance Festival.
- 3 Cheshire
- 4 Clarksburg - Clarksburg State forest offers recreation.
- 5 Dalton - The Appalachian Trail runs right through the center of Dalton, and many hikers can be seen staying in the home and camping on the lawn of local resident Tom Levardi on Depot St where hikers are welcomed. Dalton is also the home of Crane and Co. which has made the US currency and security papers for more than two centuries. There's a saying about the town that "the buck starts here". The Housatonic River winds south through Dalton and then through many other towns in Berkshire County on its 139-mile journey to the Long Island Sound. Dalton's surrounding mountains well exemplifies the many rolling hills for which the county is noted. One well-known and often visited location east of town off of Route 9 is Wahconah Falls State Park. Water flows from the reservoir above down in a beautifully tiered fashion alongside a scenic hiking trail, culminating in a spectacular 40 ft (12 m) descent into a deep pool. Legend has it that a love-sick Indian maiden named Wahconah jumped to her death there. However, upon further investigation, and contrary to this local lore, an article on web paints a decidedly happier tale of the Indian maiden's fate. This version of the story reflects a more endearing twist in which an English soldier wins the heart and hand of young Wahconah.
- 6 Egremont - a tow bordering Great Barrington, points of interest include Jug End State Forest, the Old Mill restaurant, and many other shops in the small village.
- 7 Florida - on the Mohawk Trail with entrance to Savoy Mountain State Forest.
- 8 Great Barrington including the village of Housatonic. It continues to hit Top 10 lists. A compact downtown with restaurants, shops, specialty stores, banks, and more. A renovation has made walking and parking easier and safer.
- 9 Hancock - Jiminy Peak ski area and Ramblewild, a tree-top forest adventure park.
- 10 Hinsdale
- 11 Lanesborough - Gateway to Mt. Greylock and the Ashuwillticook Rail Trail. Small family-owned and -operated farms dot this country town.
- 12 Lee - a 1-mile stretch of road reveals and stunning downtown where you can discover more than 7 nationalities represented in restaurants! Enjoy antiquing, bakeries, and many other interesting shops/stores/hidden gems.
- 13 Lenox - Home to Tanglewood Music Center (the Summer home of the Boston Symphony Orchestra), Kripalu, Cranwell, Canyon Ranch, Shakespeare & Company, and more. Downtown Lenox is bustling with artisan shops and lots of tasty restaurants.
- 14 Monterey - home of the Beartown State Forest, a small downtown strip with an old-timey General Store. Cool. Off the beated path.
- 15 Mount Washington - Great place to hike and enjoy nature. Borders NY and CT.
- 16 New Ashford
- 17 New Marlborough - a small village outside of Great Barrington. Cute and petite downtown with a library, General Store, and Fire Station.
- 18 North Adams - The Berkshires' second largest city. Two state parks: Western Gateway Heritage and Natural Bridge.
- 19 Otis
- 20 Peru
- 21 Pittsfield - The Berkshires' largest city (about 42,000). A bustling downtown undergoing a renaissance. Home to Berkshire Community College on the citys' outer edge, lots of shopping, Hotels, restaurants, and the former home of Herman Melville who wrote Moby Dick. Find Barrington Stage Company in its downtown centre, along with the Berkshire Museum, the Berkshire Athenaeum, and more.
- 22 Sheffield - the antique capital of Massachusetts. Sheffield is a small town in the Southern Berkshires region. Countryside and antique homes.
- 23 Stockbridge - a compact downtown in the Historic District of Stockbridge. Boutique shopping, a handful of restaurants, and anchored by the Red Lion Inn, a famed inn welcoming guests for over two centuries.
- 24 West Stockbridge - restaurants, shopping, coffee house, art, and a bustling market greet you.
- 25 Williamstown - Home of Williams College, The Clark Art Institute, the Williams College Museum of Art, and the Williamstown Theatre Festival.
- Mount Greylock State Reservation, with visitor centers in Lanesborough and North Adams.
- Western Gateway Heritage State Park and Natural Bridge State Park in North Adams.
- Savoy Mountain State Forest, accessed in Florida.
- Mount Washington State Forest, in Mount Washington.
- The Appalachian Trail runs through the entire region.
Berkshire County is at the western extreme of Massachusetts and borders Rensselaer and Columbia counties in New York, Bennington County and Windham County in Southern Vermont, and the Litchfield Hills region of Connecticut. The Berkshires are the size of Rhode Island and offer year-round visitation. Its peak seasons are in the Summer and Fall.
- Albany Airport ALB IATA, Albany, New York.
- Bradley International Airport BDL IATA, Windsor Locks, Connecticut.
- Boston Logan BOS, Boston, Massachusetts
- Interstate 90, the "Massachusetts Turnpike" or "Mass Pike" runs through the southern portion of the Berkshires. I-90 goes west to Albany, NY and east to Springfield, Worcester, and Boston. Access to I-90 is at Exit 1 in West Stockbridge and Exit 2 in Lee. From Lee one can take Route 7 either north or south.
- In the northern part of the region Route 2, also known as the Mohawk Trail, runs from the New York state border in the west at Williamstown to Interstate 91 at Greenfield.
In this rural region a car is preferred. However, there is bus service between many of the communities, and the centers of most towns in the region are small enough to walk through. Biking is also possible, if you are looking for a great quad workout. Remember, you're in hill country!
- Tanglewood - Tanglewood in Lenox is the summer home of the Boston Symphony Orchestra. During the summer it is not unusual to see James Taylor perform at this venue, because he lives just outside of the town. The population of Lenox swells to nearly 30,000 for the show.
- Stockbridge is the former home of Norman Rockwell and the location of the Norman Rockwell Museum, a museum he founded.
- Shakespeare Theatre Company, and Williams College in Williamstown.
- The Clark.
- MASS MoCA. A visual arts and performance museum located in North Adams near the Mohawk Trail
- Berkshire Botanical Gardens. It's in Stockbridge -- a relaxing day among local and exotic plant life. You can also take classes or participate in workshops. Admission: $12/adult; $10 students and seniors; Free for children under 12. Hours are 9AM-5PM daily. Look for special events in the fall and spring such as Harvest Fest and Plant Sale.
- Jacob's Pillow - Jacob's Pillow w:Jacob's Pillow Dance located in Becket is a dance center, school and performance space with a variety of functions and shows to visit throughout the year.
- Berkshire Museum. Visit for a unique array of attractions, activities, and exhibitions for all ages: fine art, fossils, aquarium, and seasonally changing exhibits for all to enjoy. Admission: $13/adult; $6/child. Hours: M-Sa 10AM-5PM, Su noon-5PM. In Pittsfield.
- Schenob Brook wetland complex. Identified as one of the most unique and unspoiled ecosystems in the world, nestled in the peaceful New England historic town of Sheffield.
- Cranwell Resort and Spa. In Lenox offers spa treatments, fine American cuisine dining, and a private golf course.
- Kripalu Center for Yoga and Health. In the lush woods of Stockbridge at a non-profit educational organization dedicated to the art and science of yoga.
- Jiminy Peak Resort in Hancock offers a full slate of year-round mountain activities. Mountain biking is available there and at several state forests throughout the region. There are also extensive excellent hiking trails, including a portion of the Appalachian Trail. Mount Washington is home to some of the state's best trail scenery.
- The Berkshires are a good place for walking and relaxing and perhaps taking in a summer play in the college town of Williamstown. In October this area shares in the colorful fall foliage show.
- Charlemont-based Zoar Outdoor, Phone: +1-800-532-7483, offers rafting and kayaking on portions of the Deerfield and Miller rivers, as well as other outdoor activities.
The area is home to a local currency experiment known as Berkshares. Berkshares banknotes can be purchased from several local banks and credit unions and spent at many local businesses. Buying with Berkshares gets you a 5% discount on any transaction. It also helps support the local economy.
The Berkshires has a deeply rooted food culture. For more information, please visit tasteberkshires.org.