Maidenhair spleenwort and moss at Bartholomew's Cobble

Maidenhair spleenwort and moss at Bartholomew’s Cobble

If you want to see the remains of an ancient, upside down coral reef covered in a wide array of rare and beautiful foliage, head on over to Bartholomew’s Cobble in Massachusettes’ Housatonic valley.

Bartholomew’s Cobble is a 294-acre nature preserve and designated National Natural Landmark. It hosts one our continent’s widest diversities of ferns and their kin, along with numerous kinds of colorful, woodland wildflowers, and serves as a stop-over or home for more than 200 different species of birds.

The twin, rocky hills that that give Bartholomew’s Cobble its name (“Cobble” is likely derived from the German for rocks: “kobel”) began as a collection of coral reef, shells, and sand some 500 million years ago when the Berkshires were part of a large, inland sea. During the formation of the Berkshire and Taconic mountains, the area was raised up and flipped over, exposing its jagged underbelly to the elements.

The rugged and exotic landscape of Bartholomew’s Cobble is composed mainly of quartzite and marble. The resulting alkaline soil creates the perfect environment for some 800 species of plants, not to mention one of the largest cottonwood trees in Massachusetts.

Bartholomew’s Cobble sports over 5 miles of moderate, mostly family-friendly hiking trails. The high point of the Hurlburt’s Hill hike, which rises 1,000 feet from the floor of the valley, is a twenty-acre, upland field pinnacle on the Massachusetts-Connecticut border that provides breathtaking, panoramic views of the northern Housatonic River Valley – so don’t forget your camera!

Other trails in the cobble lead through open fields, transitional forests, and past beaver laden, freshwater marsh ponds. Ledges Trail even passes two small caves that the kiddies will love to explore. A natural history museum and visitor center for the area will enrich your visit and don’t miss the nearby historic Ashley House, where slave, Mum Bett Freeman, famously sued for her freedom, helping to end slavery in the state.

Bartholomew’s Cobble

105 Weatogue Road
Ashley Falls
Sheffield, MA 01257

For more information on the area, guides, and directions, please visit the Bartholomew’s Cobble website.