At Berkshire we put a lot of effort into making sure our publications and general communications are global, with titles like the Berkshire Encyclopedia of World Sport and the Berkshire Encyclopedia of World History, and because we have so many contributors from every corner of the globe, we need to keep in mind when we write to people with news and information that just because it’s wonderfully cold and snowy here in the northeastern US, it’s not necessarily the same where our readers and contributors live. It could be – egad – hot where they are. (I hate hot weather and so this is my favorite time of year.)
But sometimes we have to remind ourselves of the old bumpersticker reminding us to “think globally, act locally.” Which brings us to the topic of: cross country skiing in the Berkshires!
Berkshire Publishing is located in a county of the same name, in the far western wilds of Massachusetts where Connecticut, Massachusetts, Vermont, and New York meet, and where people can freely wear New York Yankees clothing without fear of reprisal or (much) discrimination. The stoning of people for wearing New York sports teams’ merchandise is actually illegal now, thanks to some progressive measures that have recently passed. Berkshire County (and the surrounding area) is a great place for skiing due to the rolling hills, plentiful public land, and a critical mass of people and visitors who like to be outside, no matter how cold it gets.
Below are some of my favorite places to cross country ski. I am partial to “backcountry” skiing, where you have big fat skis and you don’t need groomed trails, but my wife prefers the groomed trails so I have to compromise. Below is a partial list, including both kinds of skiing:
Notchview, in the middle of nowhere, Windsor, MA, east of Pittsfield. This is a great place that’s cheap (but not free), and you need to bring your own skis. (Sorry for the error: I previously said that they DO rent skis, but they don’t.) They have a ski-lodge type place, with hot chocolate, etc. Really nice spot, but it really is in the middle of absolutely nowhere, way up on a hill so they always have plenty of snow:
Bartholomew’s Cobble, one of our favorite places year around. They don’t rent skis and there’s a slight fee for non-members. They don’t groom trails but if you want adventure, this is a good place. It’s in Sheffield, MA, right on the CT border. A beautiful spot with a huge hill you can climb up, which makes for an exciting trip down.
Field Farm, in Williamstown. I haven’t skied there myself, but we’ve walked there a lot and it seems like it would be perfect – rolling hills, open fields, etc. Plus, several interesting museums nearby. Free, I think, but no rentals.
Lime Kiln Farm, Mass Audubon. We had a lovely staff hike last year. In Sheffield, near the CT/MA/NY border. Great backcountry skiing, no grooming or rentals, though. Nice views of the mountains. Free. (Well, by donation – I’m a member.)
Jug End: another lovely spot near Great Barrington. Great skiing, but only for the adventurous. (Backcountry only, no rentals.) Beautiful spot. Free! There’s a fantastic loop trail that goes through lots of open meadows and some deep, Narnia-like woods. It makes for pretty grueling (but awesome) skiing/snowshoeing.
Hill Top Orchards, an orchard in Richmond, MA (midway up the county, next to NY) that has groomed trails, rentals, and they have a small lodge with a big fireplace and homemade wine and hard cider. Not a huge place, but nice. It costs about $15 per person.
And, outside the Berkshires (a couple of hours north in Woodstock, Vermont), one of my all-time favorite places in New England for “XC” skiing. They rent all kinds of skis, they have a pool, a sauna (I think), and they rent skate skis, which are really fun if you want a brutal workout, like running on skis. Woodstock’s a great town.
I could go on and on both that’s a start.
Happy skiing everyone!