Friday, November 15, 2013

Pleasant Valley Wlidlife Sanctuary, Lenox

It was a cold day, but great to be outdoors as always!
Tuesday we walked up Lenox Mountain from Mass Audubon's Pleasant Valley Wildlife Sanctuary in Lenox. We took the Overbrook Trail and returned the same way and visited Pike's Pond, one of several beaver ponds at the sanctuary.
At the summit is a view of Richmond Pond with the Taconic ridge in the background.
The old fire tower has been repurposed
as a communications tower.
We enjoyed the boardwalk at Pike's Pond. It was warmer
by the time we returned to the pond.
We are fortunate in the Berkshires to have so many generous benefactors
who have preserved, and given us access to, our wonderful natural spaces.
Thank you!

Wednesday, November 13, 2013

Taconic Crest Trail, Pittsfield

Friday was a cold, windy day with the first snow I've encountered this fall. We walked from Rte 22 in Hancock, up to Berry Pond in the Pittsfield State Forest. Although many trails here are open to motorized vehicles, the Taconic Crest Trail is a foot path. A section of it near Berry Pond has been modified for use by mountain bikers with several switchbacks to accommodate the bicycles. It was a great walk of about 6 miles mostly along the top of the ridge.

First snow of the season!
We saw several of these small Bruce Spanworm Moths also called Winter Moths
because they come out so late in the fall. More about them here.
A man-made pond along the way. 
A lofty deer-stand-for-two created between tree trunks.
It's a reminder that hunting is allowed in the state forest.
We saw that a bear had used this tree trunk for a scratching post!
Through the tree branches are nice views west into Columbia County. 

Thursday, November 7, 2013

Beavers at Benedict Pond, Great Barrington & Monterey

Half of Benedict Pond is in Great Barrington and half is in Monterey, but all of it is in Beartown State Forest. It's a 35-acre manmade lake with no development around it. An easy, scenic loop trail skirts the water. A few days ago, we saw lots of very fresh beaver activity on the northern and western sides of the lake.

The lake was calm and mirror-like.
Much of it is shallow.

The beavers have been working hard to topple this large birch.
Maybe tonight it will go down!
Here's a beaver path from the water to the tree.
It must take quite a few days to fell a large tree judging by this path!
The Lookout Trail leads to a wonderful place for a picnic with views to the west.
(Photo by Marina Wilber)

Wednesday, November 6, 2013

Shaker Mountain, Hancock

Last week we hiked the trails on Shaker Mountain in Hancock, MA. Part of the mountain is owned by Hancock Shaker Village and part is in the Pittsfield State Forest. We started at the pull-off on Rte 20 opposite Shaker Village. While there is a hefty charge for visiting the Village, well worth it by-the-way, there is no charge for walking the trails. As we drove up, two men were taking off on their bicycles up the hill.

The moderate trail passes several Shaker foundation sites of the North Family and evidence of Shaker waterworks. Also, two Shaker holy sites are on the mountain. It does not have much in the way of views, but has the historic sites and beautifully-crafted stone walls. It was a nice walk of about 6 miles.

The first holy site is overgrown with saplings.
A picket fence marks the four corners.
This stone work may have been the foundation for a shelter building at the holy site.

Originally, this outstanding example of 19th century Shaker stonework
completely enclosed the holy site—several acres.
The forest was bright & sunny as we descended the south-facing mountain.

Friday, November 1, 2013

Poetry Trail, Austerlitz, NY

After our walk to Harvey Mountain, we walked on the trail to the gravesite of Pulitzer-prize-winning poet Edna St. Vincent Millay, her husband, and several members of her family. Her home and gardens here in Austerlitz, called Steepletop, are where she lived from 1925 until her death in 1950. It is an on-going restoration project by the Edna St. Vincent Millay Society. A charge applies to tours of the house and garden, but not to the trail.

The trailhead is on East hill Road off of Rte 22 in Austerlitz, NY. A mostly flat wood road passes a half mile through light woods to the grave sites. Along the trail are sign posts with excerpts from her poems. A very nice meditative walk. Although it would have been better if it was not raining!

The trail begins at the gate with selections of her poetry along the way.

Many natural objects have been left as remembrances to her.