Allender Summit

Hiking Alander Mountain

There’s nothing quite like fall hiking in the Berkshires. In addition to the temperature being ideal & no mosquitoes (well ok, very few mosquitoes), hiking through the almost iridescent fall foliage, at times feels transcendental. One of my favorite hikes here is Alander Mountain Trail. The Alander Mountain Trail passes over rushing streams, through verdant open meadows, involves some good climbing over boulders & ends at the summit with a magnificent payoff – unforgettable vistas all the way to New York State’s Catskill Mountains.

Allender Alec Summit

The Payoff!

The hike is approximately 8 miles round trip & with its good climbs, it makes for a nice workout. Plan on spending a couple of hours on the mountain & you should bring water, snacks & your camera.

Winter Wonderland

Alander Winter Wonderland

The trailhead is located in Mt. Washington State Forest (click this link for the official trail map) in the town of Mt. Washington, which borders South Egremont. It will take you 15-20 minutes to get to the trailhead from downtown Great Barrington.  If you’re using a GPS, enter the intersection of East Street & West Street in Mt. Washington as your destination. You’ll see the parking lot & ranger station on your right. And, you can click here for a trail guide with trail notes.

One of My Favorite Sounds

Alander Mountain hikes have become really special times for me & my son –  my now tried & true hiking companion. There’s something really special about getting away from it all together.  We always have great conversations & laugh a lot – without the interruptions of phone calls, texts, etc.  And, on our last hike, he decided to geocach (click this link for more information on geocaching) & was super excited when he found a hidden cache, close to the summit (for a small price, I may just tell you its location…).

Geocaching- Found It!

Found the Cache!

If you can get up to Alander Mountain over the next couple of weeks, the foliage should be at its peak, making the experience & views even more spectacular. Have a blast hiking & enjoy Alander!

 

kid in the country cover

On Being A Kid In the Country

We just marked the one-year anniversary of our move from suburban New Jersey to the Berkshires. It’s been a great year & the kids have really adapted well to life in the country. Aside from their participation in the usual after school activities & sports, living here has really helped the kids develop an appreciation for the simpler things in life, especially the natural beauty that surrounds us. Most of their weekends involve a good hike, swimming in the nearby lake or former marble quarry or a bike ride on the nearby rail trail that runs alongside the beautiful Williams River.

kid in the country alec

Quarry Swimmer

A couple of weeks ago, I had an experience that for me, highlighted just how great it is to be a kid in the Berkshires. After a long day of work, I was about to pull into our driveway when I spotted our kids heading down to the brook that abuts our house, to catch frogs & tadpoles.

Catching Frogs

The Simple Pleasures

I pulled the car in the driveway and walked down to brook to watch them. And, that’s when it hit me. Sometimes it’s the simplest things in life that give the greatest pleasure. And that yeah, it really is great to be a kid in the country!

 

 

 

 

Dick van Dyke as Bert the chimney sweep in Mary Poppins

“Ello Govnah!”

A short while back, my son & I were headed out for a hike in the neighborhood. As we were walking to the trail, we saw a man doing some lawn work & my son exclaimed, “Dad, I think that’s Deval Patrick, Governor of Massachusetts!”. Though I knew Governor Patrick had a weekend home in the Berkshires, I highly doubted that he’d be out doing yard work, especially on such a beautiful day. But alas, my son was right, it was, in fact, Governor Patrick.

We went up to say hello & the Governor couldn’t have been nicer. He chatted with us, asking my son how he liked living in the Berkshires & his new school. And, he let me snap this picture for posterity:

Deval 2

The Gov!

Wow!  Who better to endorse the Berkshires as the perfect place to escape the stresses of everyday life than Governor Patrick? Have a look at this interview in the Spring 2013 issue of Berkshire Magazine, where the Governor professes his love for the Berkshires & explains what makes this such a magical place.

So… next time you see you the Governor around the Berkshires, put on your best Cockney accent & give him your best “Ello Govnah!”.

 

race brook upper falls

Hiking Mount Race – Waterfalls, Awesome Views, Babbling Brooks & More!

I just did one of my favorite Berkshires day hikes with my son – Mount Race in Sheffield. This hike offers the best of everything. You get to see a beautiful waterfall (Race Brook Falls, which you’ll reach at approximately the 1.1 mile mark), climb boulders, see multiple smaller falls, cross babbling brooks & then top it off with fantastic views into Connecticut & beyond from the summit.  And, the majestic hawks soaring right above your head are an added plus.

The total hike is approximately 5.5 miles and has some good vertical climbs – so be sure to wear appropriate footwear, allow yourself around 5 hours or so & bring plenty of water & snacks. To get to the trail from Great Barrington, take Route 41 South and approximately 1.9 miles past the Berkshire School, you’ll see the trailhead on the right (look for the parked cars). If the parking area is full, you can park along Route 41 but just make sure your car is really off the road and on the grass.

Once on the trail, at about the ¼ mile mark, you’ll see a signpost for Race Brook Falls. Bear left at the sign post. Follow the blue blazes up the trail & when you get to the Appalachian Trail sign post, bear left & follow the white blazes. Once you start seeing the pine forest, you’ve almost reached the summit, with its magnificent views.

We've reached the top!

We’ve reached the summit. YES!

 

If your limited on time, want something less strenuous & have approximately 1 hour, you can visit the lower falls, which will be an approximately 1.4 mile round trip hike. Just stay straight when you get to the 1st sign post at the beginning of the trail.

Have a blast on your hike!

Ice Glen Main

Hiking Ice Glen & the Perfect Post Hike Dinner

Looking for a really fun hike, suitable for all ages and right next to downtown Stockbridge? Then be sure to check out the Ice Glen Trail in Stockbridge (trailhead is on Park Road) . The entire hike will take you +/- 1 hour and you’ll have a blast climbing in & out of the boulders. And, when you’re done and have built up an appetite, stop by Widow Bingham’s Tavern inside the Red Lion Inn.  Chef Brian Alberg & his crew create amazing dishes from the farm fresh produce that surrounds us here in the Berkshires.

Bighma's Tavern Desert

Birthday Dessert at Bingham’s Tavern

My son loves all of the old world charm & nostalgia of the tavern & claims their burger (with farm fresh egg on top, of course) is the best in the Berkshires.  And, as you can see, he never skips their delicious desserts!  He loves the Belgian chocolate mousse with salted caramel & my favorite is the pear creme brulee with smoked almond biscotti.  Bingham’s Tavern has lots of kid friendly options too.

Have an awesome hike & we’ll see you at the Red Lion!