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Friday, September 22, 2017


On one of this week's beautiful afternoons, we took the hour drive to Naumkeag in Stockbridge, Massachusetts -- fabulous 1885 house and gardens. Tours are provided on the half hour and are quite good.

Naumkeag was the summer retreat for New York City lawyer and diplomat Joseph Hodges Choate (1832-1917) .

The mansion has 44 rooms. My favorite, as usual, is the library. The interiors were left intact giving visitors the opportunity to experience the house as the Choates and their guests did.

Gardens everywhere on the property.

A masterpiece designed by McKim, Mead & White, one of the most prominent architectural firms of the time.

Naumkeag recently joined the North America Reciprocal Museum (NARM) Association, so if you have a membership through your local museum, there is no admission charge. Click here for directions.

Saturday, September 16, 2017

Hopkins Forest

Dirt road leading to Hopkins Forest from Williamstown

It had been about ten years since we last visited this section of the 2,600 acre Hopkins Forest owned and managed by Williams College. We had forgetten how beautiful it is, and how well-groomed the trails are. Now retired, we'll be visiting this section more often and -- as we did yesterday -- combining it with an after hike stop-off at Papa Charlie's Deli, my favorite luncheon spot in Williamstown for lunch.

The parking lot is just to the left of this sign on Northwest Hill Road.

Informational board with map brochures in the box at the center.

Buxton Garden just behind the informational board.

Plants at Buxten Garden are labeled.

Maple sugar shack 

There are informational plaques throughout the well-groomed trails.

Williams College has wisely not opted to "fix" the forest -- it is what it is, just beautiful.


Exiting the forest, you pass this barn, which had been owned by Alfred Moon, one of the last subsistence farmers in the area. He grew corn, oats, hay and rye, had a vegetable garden and grazed cattle on the steeper slopes. Alfred married his aunt, Adelia, in the 1880s and was known to sell homemade cider, cut his hay late and drink straight from the bung (a hole in the 50 gallon barrel).

We'll be back!

To get to this area of trails, cross over the Petersburgh Pass. Turn left at T-intersection where Route 2 east joins Route 7 north. Proceed up 7 for 2-1/2 miles to the rotary. Go around the rotary staying on Route 7 north for 0.3 miles to Bulkley Street which obliquely intersects on the left. Take Bulkley Street 0.75 miles to its junction with Northwest Hill Road. Turn right on Northwest Hill Road for 100 yards to the entrance of the Hopkins Forest on the left. You will see a parking area there, and a short walk to the start of the trails where there's a board describing the forest with a box containing maps of the trails.

Other Hikes
Fitch Trail Hike
Grafton Lakes State Park Hiking Trails
Grafton Lakes State Park Trails

Tuesday, August 1, 2017

Conservation Fund Buys Cowee Forest

From The Conservation Fund Press Release:

ALBANY, N.Y. —Today, The Conservation Fund announced its purchase of 23,053 acres of working forestland in New York, Vermont and Massachusetts. Known as Cowee Forest, the acquired lands provide critical connections to existing conserved areas and recreational resources, including access to the Taconic Crest Trail and the Rensselaer Plateau, as well as protection for important wildlife habitat within a short drive from Albany, New York, and Bennington, Vermont....

Click here for full Press Release

Click here for coverage in Huffington Post

According to a information provided by the Rensselaer Plateau Alliance (RPA),  "More than 15,000 of these acres are in Rensselaer County and over 9,000 are on the Rensselaer Plateau. The Conservation Fund plans to work with New York State Department of Environmental Conservation, the communities and local partners, such as RPA, to create and implement permanent protection strategies for the land." 

Kudos to the Conservation Fund and our own local Rensselaer Plateau Alliance for this wonderful conservation news.  

Click here for information on how you can become a member of the Rensselaer Plateau Alliance.

Saturday, July 22, 2017

Happy Trails at Southern Vermont College

SVC's Everett Mansion

A couple of years ago, I posted SVC Hikes about the hiking trails at Southern Vermont College in Bennington. At the time, we took a hike there on a trail that was in need of maintenance, to put it mildly -- it became somewhat of a bushwhack.  Dennis, my college roommate and good friend, recently visited me from the Big Apple and I took him over to SVC (a really cool place!), where we hiked some trails on the north end of the property. These were in excellent condition and a lot of fun.

Click here for directions to SVC. Click here for a map of the trails (and then zoom in).

To further help you find the north-end I'm talking about -- the Carriage Road that leads to the Cave Trail -- I made this short video. Pull up to the parking lot by SVC's Everett Mansion, walk up to the courtyard on the west side of the mansion, and...

Walk to the SVC Hiking Trails (video)

View to the north of Bennington and the Bennington Monument.

Bucolic meadow north of the Everett Mansion and adjacent to the start of the north-end trails.

Old stone scenic veiw observation platform.

Traversing the meadow.

That would be my buddy Dennis "presenting" the stairway to the west of the Everett Mansion

Other Hikes