The Berkshire Hills are in Berkshire County at the western end of Massachusetts. They are actually three separate mountain ranges, separated by the valleys of the Housatonic River in the south and the Hoosic River in the north. East of the valleys a hilly plateau rising as high as 2,600' extends eastward toward the Connecticut River. Beyond the limits of Berkshire County it is known as the Hilltowns and is covered in the Pioneer Valley region. West of the valleys the narrower Taconic Range rises along the New York state border. The third Berkshire range is Mount Greylock, at 3,487 ft (1,063 m) Massachusetts' high point, and its satellite peaks rising out of the valley between two upper branches of the Hoosac River.
Although the Berkshires were historically part of New England's traditions of intellectualism, idealism, subsistence farming, logging, and early industrialization, they are almost equidistant between New York and Boston. Because New York has grown considerably larger and wealthier, the Berkshires are increasingly drawn into its economic and cultural orbit.
Berkshire County is located at the western extreme of Massachusetts and borders Rensselaer and Columbia Counties in New York, Bennington County and Windham County in Southern Vermont, and the Litchfield Hills region of Connecticut.
Cities and towns
- Adams - Birthplace of Susan B. Anthony.
- Clarksburg - Clarksburg State forest offers recreation.
- Dalton - The Appalachian Trail runs right through the center of Dalton, and many hikers can be seen staying in the home and camping on the lawn of local resident Tom Levardi on Depot St where hikers are welcomed. Dalton is also the home of Crane and Co. which has made the US currency and security papers for more than two centuries. There's a saying about the town that "the buck starts here". The Housatonic River winds south through Dalton and then through many other towns in Berkshire County on its 139-mile journey to the Long Island Sound. Dalton's surrounding mountains well exemplifies the many rolling hills for which the county is noted. One well-known and often visited location east of town off of Route 9 is Wahconah Falls State Park. Water flows from the reservoir above down in a beautifully tiered fashion alongside a scenic hiking trail, culminating in a spectacular 40' decent into a deep pool. Legend has it that a love-sick Indian maiden named Wahconah jumped to her death there. However, upon further investigation, and contrary to this local lore, an article on the web (http://explorewmass.blogspot.com/2010/09/legend-of-wahconah-falls.html) paints a decidedly happier tale of the Indian maiden's fate. This version of the story reflects a more endearing twist in which an English soldier wins the heart and hand of young Wahconah.
- Florida - on the Mohawk Trail with entrance to Savoy Mountain State Forest.
- Great Barrington including the village of Housatonic.
- Hancock - Jiminy Peak ski area.
- Lanesborough - Gateway to Mt. Greylock and the Ashuwillticook Rail Trail.
- Lenox - Home to Tanglewood Music Center.
- Mount Washington - Great place to hike and enjoy nature.
- New Ashford
- New Marlborough
- North Adams - Two state parks: Western Gateway Heritage and Natural Bridge.
- Pittsfield - The Berkshires' largest city (about 42,000).
- West Stockbridge
- Williamstown - Home of Williams College.
- Mount Greylock State Reservation, with visitor centers in Lanesborough and North Adams.
- Western Gateway Heritage State Park and Natural Bridge State Park in North Adams.
- Savoy Mountain State Forest, accessed in Florida.
- Mount Washington State Forest, in Mount Washington.
- The Appalachian Trail runs through the region.
- Berkshire Visitors Bureau, 3 Hoosac St, toll-free: +1-800-237-5747, fax: +1 413-743-4500, e-mail: email@example.com. Adams, MA 01247.
- Albany Airport IATA: ALB, Albany, New York.
- Bradley International Airport IATA: BDL, Windsor Locks, Connecticut.
- Interstate 90, the "Massachusetts Turnpike" or "Mass Pike" runs through the southern portion of the Berkshires. I-90 goes west to Albany, NY and east to Springfield, Worcester, and Boston. Access to I-90 is at Exit 1 in West Stockbridge and Exit 2 in Lee. From Lee one can take Route 7 either north or south.
- In the northern part of the region Route 2, also known as the Mohawk Trail, runs from the New York state border in the west at Williamstown to Interstate 91 at Greenfield.
In this rural region a car is preferred. However, there is bus service between many of the communities, and the centers of most towns in the region are small enough to walk through. Biking is also possible, if you don't mind the hills.
- Tanglewood - Tanglewood in Lenox is the summer home of the Boston Symphony Orchestra. During the summer it is not unusual to see James Taylor perform at this venue, because he lives just outside of the town. The population of Lenox swells to nearly 30,000 for the show.
- Stockbridge is the former home of Norman Rockwell and the location of the Norman Rockwell Museum, a museum he founded.
- Shakespeare Theatre Company, and Williams College in Williamstown.
- The Clark.
- MASS MoCA. A visual arts and performance museum located in North Adams near the Mohawk Trail
- Berkshire Botanical Gardens. Located in Stockbridge for a relaxing day among local and exotic plant life. You can also take classes or participate in workshops. Admission: $12/adult; $10 students and seniors; Free for children under 12. Hours are 9a-5p daily. Look for special events in the fall and spring such as Harvest Fest and Plant Sale.
- Jacob's Pillow - Jacob's Pillow w:Jacob's Pillow Dance located in Becket is a dance center, school and performance space with a variety of functions and shows to visit throughout the year.
- Berkshire Museum. Visit for a unique array of attractions, activities, and exhibitions for all ages: fine art, fossils, aquarium, and seasonally changing exhibits for all to enjoy. Admission: $13/adult; $6/child. Hours: M-Sa 10a-5p, Sun 12p-5p. Located in Pittsfield.
- Schenob Brook wetland complex. Identified as one of the most unique and unspoiled ecosystems in the world, nestled in the peaceful New England historic town of Sheffield.
- Cranwell Resort and Spa. In Lenox offers spa treatments, fine American cuisine dining, and a private golf course.
- Kripalu Center for Yoga and Health. In the lush woods of Stockbridge at a non-profit educational organization dedicated to the art and science of yoga.
- Jiminy Peak Resort in Hancock offers a full slate of year-round mountain activities. Mountain biking is available there and at several state forests throughout the region. There are also extensive excellent hiking trails, including a portion of the Appalachian Trail. Mount Washington is home to some of the state's best trail scenery.
- The Berkshires are a good place for walking and relaxing and perhaps taking in a summer play in the college town of Williamstown. In October this area shares in the colorful fall foliage show.
- Charlemont-based Zoar Outdoor, Phone: +1-800-532-7483, offers rafting and kayaking on portions of the Deerfield and Miller rivers, as well as other outdoor activities.
The area is home to a local currency experiment known as Berkshares. Berkshares banknotes can be purchased from several local banks and credit unions and spent at many local businesses. Buying with Berkshares gets you a 5% discount on any transaction. It also helps support the local economy.
- Check out the many antique shops for great finds all over the county.
- Visit the Premium Outletsin Lee for great deals on brand name items.
- Jae's Spice.
- Barrington Brewery. Located in Great Barrington has a variety of original brews and an outdoor beer garden to enjoy drinks on a warm summer afternoon.