October Mountain State Forest is Massachusetts largest state forest. Its 16,500 acres encompass a portion of the Hoosac Range on the western edge of the central Berkshires. The forest includes an uplands area with several reservoirs.
The “October Mountain” name comes from the forest’s highest point; a ridge rising majestically up out of the Housatonic River Valley. Herman Melville treasured the view of the ridge from his home in Pittsfield, particularly in autumn. The name “October Mountain” is attributed to him.
Best of all, October Mountain is right here in Lee. Just a ten-minute drive from your room at our Berkshires bed and breakfast, Applegate Inn.
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Quite a few guests of our Berkshires Bed and Breakfast come here in order to be closer to nature. Many live in Boston, New York City, and Hartford. They crave the outdoors, the fresh air, the quiet, and they find it in the Berkshires.
A favorite activity is hiking, which can accommodate most all fitness levels. Intrepid hikers can summit the tallest peak in the region, Mount Greylock. Folks looking for more of an amble through the woods may prefer the Tranquility Trail in the Pittsfield State Forest, a gentle, half-mile trail through deciduous forest and hemlock stands.
Hikes in Western Massachusetts are plentiful. A few favorites are listed below:
Monument Mountain, just south of Stockbridge. Herman Melville spent many hours exploring Monument Mountain, sometimes with his friend Nathaniel Hawthorne. Conversations during those hikes helped inspire Melville’s great opus, Moby Dick. Just think what a hike here could bring out in you. There are three miles of trails around Monument Mountain. If you make it to the top of Squaw Peak, you’ll be rewarded with wonderful views.
Schermerhorn Gorge Trail in October Mountain State Forest. This 3.7-mile loop features some dramatic contrasts that make it truly lovely. It is considered difficult thanks to a few tricky and steep spots, though it only gains about 600 feet in elevation.
The Benedict Pond Loop, in the Beartown Forest. This 1.5-mile loop is pleasant any time of year. For the most part, it hugs the coast of the shallow Benedict Pond and gains little elevation. The trail can be a bit moist in areas, but the landscape is lovely.
The Appalachian Trail. The AT passes close to our Berkshires Inn, and some of our guests simply must get their feet on it. We understand, and we help many guests realize that dream. Since the Appalachian Trail is best done one-way, we help drop a car at one trail head and shuttle guests to another one.
At the end of the day, no matter how long the hike or how strenuous, we invite our guests to relax with wine and cheese in our parlor. It is a reward well earned.
We’ve put away our skis for the season and oiled our hiking boots. In the coming months, we plan to stretch our legs on the hike to Bish Bash Falls. Maybe we’ll walk a stretch of the Appalachian Trail, which runs through October Mountain State Forest and passes close to our Inn Berkshires. Perhaps we’ll also walk to Schermerhorn Gorge.
Many of our guests have enjoyed the scenic trail to Schermerhorn Gorge, in nearby October Mountain State Forest. It’s a 3.5-mile loop with a few fairly strenuous sections. We always suggest bringing a lunch, for there is an excellent spot to picnic along the way.
Cool off in the pool at our Berkshires Bed and Breakfast after your hike, and relax on one of our lounge chairs. Come evening, you’ll be ready for a drink in the parlor and dinner out in Lee, Lenox, or Stockbridge.