As I sit here this afternoon with my cup of coffee, I’ve come across photos from past trips I took to Berkshire County, Massachusetts. It’s given me the inspiration to write this post which is one I’ve wanted to write for a very long time.
I’m originally from the Springfield area, which is still in the western part
of the state but is about a 1 1/2 hour-2 hour south of the Berkshires. The Berkshires is a magical place full of natural beauty and quiet, sleepy towns nestled between the Taconic Mountains (part of the Appalachian Mountain Range). My Dad and I would often take trips up there in the Fall to take photos of the foliage, visit the Native American shops along the Mohawk Trail, or to just enjoy the scenery and fresh mountain air. It’s very serene up there, as you don’t hear the sound of cars rushing by or any of the other sounds you’d hear in a more urban area. All you’ll hear is the sound of the wind rustling through the trees and the song of the native Chickadees. It’s a place to get away from the hustle and bustle of every day life and reconnect with nature.
One of my favorite stops along the Mohawk Trail is the town of Shelburne Falls. Shelburne Falls is a small village rich in history, natural beauty, and talented artisans. It’s home to the majestic Glacial Potholes (shown in the photo) and steps away from the potholes is the famous Bridge of Flowers. The village is small enough where you can park your car and simply walk around town to see everything. The center of town is filled with aroma of coffee shops and bakeries, and the sound of the locals chatting as they pass you by. If I could, I’d pick up and move here in a heart beat. It’s everything I love about small-town living.
Not to far from Shelburne is the town of Charlemont. I haven’t fully explored Charlemont, but I always stop here to view the Hail To The Sunrise Monument. The monument is a statue of a Mohawk Native in traditional wardrobe looking eastward with his arms extended towards the rising sun, and is said to be greeting the Great Spirit. The monument honors the people of the five Mohawk Nations that inhabited western Massachusetts and New York. The Mohawks that traveled this trail were said to be friendly to white settlers. The monument serves as a reminder of the area’s Native American heritage. The grounds also include a reflecting pool and are open to the public. Many travelers find this to be a welcoming stop along the scenic highway.
The next stop along my usual journey is the town of Florida. Odd name,
right? With a total area of 24 miles and a population of only 752 people, it is a very small town. Florida welcomes you with a comical sign of a snowman surrounded by palm trees. It’s home to Whitcomb Summit with an elevation of 2,172 ft which makes it the highest point along the Mohawk Trail, but not the highest in the state (we’ll get to that soon). There’s a great gift shop atop Whitcomb summit and an awesome viewing tower not too far away. There’s also another monument that I really like called The Elk on The Trail. The monument was erected in the memory of the men of the Massachusetts Elks Association who died in World War I.
My final and favorite stop is Mount Greylock located in Adams. Mount Greylock is the highest point in Massachusetts with an elevation of 3,491 ft. Before making my way up to the summit, I like to stop at the visitors center at the base of the mountain. They have an awesome 3D topographical map of the Mountain and the surrounding area, as well as exhibits on the local wildlife. They also offer a beautiful and informative 15 minute video on the efforts made to preserve the area. The way up the mountain is a very, very narrow road (so narrow that you have to pull to the side to allow another car to pass coming down the mountain, yikes). The road is also known for it’s many hairpin turns. Though the way up is a bit nerve-wracking, it’s all worth it once you’re out of the forest and closer to the summit. The first time I traveled up the mountain, I was with my boyfriend and both of us were in awe when we exited the forest and could see how high we were. We had to pull over to take photos.
I had never seen such a beautiful sight before. Once we reached the top we were able to see the Veterans War Memorial Tower, a 92 ft tall granite tower dedicated in June 1933 to commemorate the courage, loyalty, and sacrifice of all servicemen and servicewomen from the Commonwealth of Massachusetts. Typically you are allowed to go inside and climb the spiral staircase to the top, but unfortunately it was closed the day we went due to weather-related damage. On the other side of tower we saw folks paragliding off the side of the mountain (as you can see in the featured image). I couldn’t believe it! It was insane and I wish I had the guts to do it lol What a liberating rush of adrenaline that must be. I just kept my feet planted firmly on the ground and observed 🙂 Here is a video of one of those crazy paragliders:
If you are ever in Massachusetts and have the time, I highly recommend taking a day to explore the Berkshires. Whether it’s whitewater rafting in the Deerfield River, paragliding off Mount Greylock, taking a stroll through the Mohawk Trail State Forest, or simply enjoying a scenic drive, there is something for everyone to enjoy and you will not be disappointed. It’s a very humbling experience when you’re surrounded by these mountains, and realize just how tiny you are.