Stockbridge Bowl | 5 Favorite Outdoor Activities in the Berkshires
Photo Credit : Aimee Tucker
Sponsored by The Red Lion Inn
The cultural riches of Western Massachusetts’s Berkshire Hills region have long made it a favorite destination for visitors, but its scenic landscape provides ample opportunities for outdoor fun, too. Heading to the Berkshires for in search of fresh air and adventure? First, you’ll need a place to stay! There are many lodging options for visitors to the Berkshires, but the Red Lion Inn in Stockbridge is arguably the region’s oldest and most visited. Dating back to 1773, the sprawling Main Street staple is known for its historic character, on-site dining options, fitness room, year-round pool and hot tub, and seasonal charms such as the wicker-strewn front porch in the summer — the perfect place to relax after a long day of boating or hiking. For Berkshires-bound adventure seekers, here are five favorite outdoor activities to try.
5 FAVORITE OUTDOOR ACTIVITIES IN THE BERKSHIRES
Stockbridge Bowl (also known as Lake Mahkeenac) offers many kinds of aquatic fun in the Berkshires, including swimming, kayaking, paddleboarding, fishing, waterskiing, and canoeing. If you don’t have your own gear, the Arcadian Shop in Lenox offers kayak and paddleboard rentals, with convenient drop-offs and pick-ups daily from the boat launch in Stockbridge.
Located on Route 7 in Great Barrington, the 2.8-mile Monument Mountain hike is one of the most popular moderate hikes in the southern Berkshires. The rugged, steep trail rewards hikers with views of Beartown State Forest to the east and the Taconic Range to the west. Pay a nominal fee to park, then choose from two route options that traverse though lush forests and past rocky boulders to reach the top.
Other favorite hikes and up-close nature experiences in the Berkshires include Mount Greylock in Lanesborough (you can even drive to the top, if you like), Bash Bish Falls and Mount Everett in Mount Washington, and foliage visits to October Mountain State Forest in Lee.
ASHUWILLTICOOK RAIL TRAIL
In the northern corner of the Berkshires, a former stretch of railroad track from Lanesborough to Adams is now the 11.2-mile Ashuwillticook Rail Trail, with views of the Hoosic River Valley, Cheshire Reservoir, and assorted wildlife. Open from dawn to dusk, the trail is great for walking, roller blading, cycling, and (in the winter) cross-country skiing and snowshoeing. Leashed pets welcome.
Like your outdoors with a side of om? The Kripalu Center for Yoga & Health in Stockbridge is one of the largest residential facilities for holistic health and education in the country. While long-term guests attend programs and spiritual retreats, day passes are available for anyone who wants to take advantage of the center’s yoga, meditation, and mindful living and nutrition workshops. It also includes access to the center’s walking and hiking trails and beachfront.
One of the most popular outdoor Kripalu events is the Saturday yoga class held in July and August on the lawn at Tanglewood during the Boston Symphony Orchestra’s morning rehearsal (grab a lawn pass at the Tanglewood main gate or join in for free if you have a rehearsal ticket). You’ve never experienced yoga like this before!
Prefer a gentler Berkshires outdoor adventure? You’re in luck. Along with the walking paths you’ll find in the region’s parks and natural areas, many of the wonderful museums and historic properties in the Berkshires include meandering routes and trails through landscaped gardens and past art installations. Some of my favorites include the Berkshire Botanical Garden, Edith Wharton’s The Mount, David Chester French’s Chesterwood, the country estate Naumkeag, and Hancock Shaker Village.
These are just a few of the many wonderful outdoor adventures available in the beautiful Berkshires, and the perfect complement to a summer stay at the Red Lion Inn. What would you add to the list?