The Berkshires of western Massachusetts is a thriving cultural destination. Home to Tanglewood, Jacob’s Pillow, and a plethora of other dance, theater, and arts venues, the region earned its reputation as a world-class home for artistic pursuits. However, beyond the lovely towns and villages, performing arts centers, and outstanding museums lies a world of natural beauty. Dynamic hiking trails, thundering waterfalls, and scenic mountain vistas define the wilderness areas of the Berkshires. Fortunately, much of this beauty is conservation land and reservations. In fact, 9 state forests and 3 state parks call the Berkshires home. Scattered among the rolling hills near the borders of New York and Connecticut, you’ll find acres of wild landscape to explore. To get you started, here are 5 must-see state forests in Massachusetts.
1. Mount Washington State Forest
Although not nearly as popular as its namesake in New Hampshire, Mount Washington State Forest is just as spectacular. This forest features 30 miles of trails reaching an elevation of more than 2200 feet. Hike to the summit of Alander Mountain and experience magnificent views – a worthwhile reward. If time and endurance allow, be sure to trek over to Bash Bish Falls State Forest, home of the state’s highest waterfall.
2. Mount Everett State Reservation
If you’re looking for the “Dome,” as Mount Everett is fondly known, then head to Mount Everett State Reservation. Here you’ll enjoy the challenge of a network of mountain trails that lead through old-growth forest to the summit of Mount Everett. In fact, Mount Everett is the highest peak in the Taconic Range. Or, set your sights on the 7.2 mile round trip Race Brook Falls trail, which will have you hiking over waterfalls to a portion of the Appalachian Trail
3. October Mountain State Forest
By far the largest state forest in the state, October Mountain State Forest appeals to hikers of all skill levels. Situated in our hometown of Lee, the forest is home to abundant wildlife and striking natural wonders. For an amazing adventure, take the Schermerhorn Gorge Trail, a fairly steep trek along the banks of the Schermerhorn Brook.
4. Beartown State Forest
The pristine Benedict Pond in Beartown State Forest is the main attraction in the summer months. Acres of cool mountain water lure swimmers, boaters, and fishermen to its sandy shoreline. To access take Benedict Pond Loop Trail, a 1.5 mile trail that circles the pond. Along the way, you might spot native wildflowers and wildlife foraging along the shoreline. In winter, this state forest offers ample opportunity to explore the wilderness on snowshoes, cross-country skis, and snowmobiles.
5. Savoy Mountain State Forest
One of the most popular hikes in the Savoy Mountain State Forest is the Bog Pond Trail. The pond features floating bog islands on the surface. What’s more, climb to the top of Spruce Hill via the Busby Trail and enjoy spectacular views and a chance to glimpse migrating hawks in season. But don’t miss Tannery Falls, a 50 foot cascade through a deep chasm to a cool pond below. (Accessible June through October).
Every true outdoor enthusiast should make the Berkshires a “bucket-list” destination in any season. Feast your senses on wildflowers and roaring waterfalls in the spring. Enjoy swimming and fishing in cool woodland ponds in the summer. Admire bright fall foliage and refreshing hikes in the fall. And hit the powder snowshoeing and cross-country skiing in the winter.
Once you’ve explored the beauty of these 5 must-see state forests in Massachusetts, return to Devonfield Inn. Take a dip in the heated pool, or put your feet up in front of a roaring fire. We offer extraordinary service and amenities at our Berkshires bed and breakfast inn year-round. Watch our latest Outdoor Adventure video to make the possibilities really come to life.