By Jelane A. Kennedy
After two great snowstorms in the Northeast this month it was time to enjoy a couple of hikes. We decided to take a trip to the Berkshires, for a change of pace.
One of our favorite places for a great little hike is in Lenox off of Route 7 & 20 at John Drummond Kennedy Park. The park has multiple looping and connecting paths. I read somewhere that they are old carriage trails. This is probably one of the best-marked looping path parks that we have been to. The park is open from sunrise to sunset. Parking is available at several spots near the trail. Volunteers do a pretty good job of keeping the trails up, it appears that there is not a culture of dog owners picking up their dog poop so if it is a busy day you may have a few to dodge.
There are green signs in several locations to help you navigate along with signs that lay out the whole park with notes to show you where you are. I found the markers very helpful as l jumped from loop to loop. One of our favorite spots is to hike is up to the gazebo and enjoy the view from the top seeing Mount Greylock on a clear day. The park always seems busy yet we are still able to find solitude as we hike. We have only visited this park in the winter so I’m not sure how it would be in other seasons with mountain bikers buzzing around.
On this trip we were prepared to snow shoe but as the temperature rose we decided that our micro-spikes might be best in the slushy snow. We also saw a few folks come by on cross-country skis and people dog walking. It was a great day to be out and everyone was taking advantage.
Our second hike was over to Laurel Hill Association trails in Stockbridge called Goodrich Park and Memorial Bridge. The history of Laurel Hill is fascinating: The association was started in 1853. It is the oldest association in the US that was to be involved in village improvement. There are multiple properties and 3 trails that they maintain.
We found this hike with Lucy our golden retriever a number of years ago. We usually have done the Mary V. Flynn trail, which is a loop of 1.2 miles along the river. It is wheel chair accessible as it is mostly built on the bed of an old trolley line. It is great hike listening to the joyful gurgle of water. Dog walkers seem to find this a popular hike. Again the dog poop factor can add to the challenge and seems to be more of an issue here than at Kennedy Park. But on a good day it is a lovely little hike.
This year we decided to try Laura’s Tower Trail, a hike that we had not been sure in the past where it went. But with the snow well tramped down we could easily see the path. At the end of the bridge that spans the Housatonic River we continued to walk straight toward the railroad tracks, on the other side of the tracks we picked up the trail. The trail makes a 1.5-mile loop and is listed as being Moderately Difficult with a 600’ vertical assent.
There were markers occasionally but not as frequently as I like which is that I can stand at one marker and see the next up head of me. Anyway it was a great hike with multiple switchbacks, which helped as we made the trip to the top of the hill. We then went up the tower.
It’s a great small mountain hike. On this particular day the view from the tower was terrific. And there was a cool sundial like piece placed in the middle the tower, similar to one we like at Glacier National Park. A sign said that it was erected in 1931. The dial showed the directions and labeled the mountains we could see from that point. This included the Catskills, Green Mountains and Mount Greylock. It was a great hike on a clear day! The other, hike that we have not yet tried branches off from the Tower hike at the ¼ mile marker is Ice Glen. Ice Glen is a 1-mile round trip hike listed as difficult because of having to climb some of the boulders. The hike can be made into a 2-mile hike by coming back via the road.
We again used our micro-spikes for this hike and at times found we slipped a bit but overall the entire hike was great. The coming back was fast but we were careful not to slide down the mountain. Just before we started the Tower hike, another hiker let us know that she needed to use the toes of her boots coming down because it had become so slippery at times. So we heeded this warning. It was late in the day when we did this hike so the sun was in a great position to really see into Vermont and New York. This was the steepest hike we have done in a few years since I hurt my left leg; it felt really good to be able to complete this hike.
It’s these little excursions that feed the soul and remind me why I enjoy winter. I love a bright sunny day, with the light dancing off the snow. It’s as though the air sparkles. I’m warm in my winter clothes and enjoy breathing the clean mountain air. I just can’t help but smile.
© Jelane A. Kennedy & Eileen A. McFerran