Beyond the picturesque towns that are literally right out of a Norman Rockwell painting, and the thriving cultural activities, restaurants, inns, and health retreats, Berkshire County in Western Massachusetts is a frequent destination of sports enthusiasts, hikers, and climbers. Nestled in the beautiful Berkshire mountains, Berkshire County is considered to be the center of New England and is visited year-round by tourists from all over the North Eastern United States and the world.
Tourists and locals alike can find a respite from the hustle and bustle of their busy urban lifestyles among the Berkshires’ charming towns and villages. While many fall in love with the local culture and events, whether its the ballet at Jacob’s Pillow or a musical performance at Tanglewood, others will find plenty to do in the many parks and trails that abound in the area.
Berkshire County’s state forests, lakes, and parks offer scenic beauty and tranquility, but also an opportunity for avid sports enthusiasts, particularly climbers. The Berkshire mountains offer uniquely open access for mountain biking, steep hiking, and rock climbing, and there are a range of options available for those who just want to see test their mettle in Berkshire County’s higher elevations.
These places will provide a unique and worthwhile experience for avid and experienced rock climbers and amateurs alike. If you’re in the area or considering on planning a visit this season, here are a few great destinations for climbing.
Trail of the Ledges, Pleasant Valley (Lenox, MA)
The first thing you’ll see as you pass through the wooden gate at this Audubon Wildlife Sanctuary is the tall range of hills and the peak of Lenox Mountain. The old Lenox Fire Tower, from which state workers once watched for smoke, can be seen sitting atop the peak of Lenox Mountain from anywhere in this beautiful forest.
Though there are many trails that criss-cross and wind through Pleasant Valley, serious hikers and climbers will want to tackle the Trail of the Ledges to reach the top of Lenox Mountain. Literature you receive at the park will warn you about potential dangers associated with the trail, though the elevation you’ll reach is not as high as other locations in the county. Not difficult for fairly seasoned hikers, safety and caution is still recommended if you attempt this climb.
Mount Greylock (Adams, MA)
All serious hikers and rock climbers who are passionate about their hobby will eventually find their way to Mount Greylock, the tallest peak not only in Berkshire County but in the entire state of Massachusetts. While the drive up the winding road along the side of the mountain can be strenuous and exhilarating, hiking along the slopes and reaching the peak itself with your own feet is a truly remarkable experience.
Mount Greylock offers miles and miles of trails throughout the slopes and hills surrounding the mountain itself, and there are a variety of choices of different degrees of difficulty depending on how tough you want your climb to be. Trails are categorized as easy, moderate, strenuous, or aggressive depending on the challenge they offer to the prospective hiker. The Bellows Pipe Trail in particular offers over five and a half miles of extremely challenging hiking and climbing all the way to the summit, and will give even the most seasoned hiker a truly memorable experience.