Fall at Its Best in the Berkshires
→ Learn more about each of these sanctuaries, see photographs, download trail maps, and more at massaudubon.org/berkshires
This article was featured in the Fall 2019 issue of Explore, our quarterly magazine for members.
Few places display the breathtaking splendor of fall like the Berkshires. Leaf peepers travel from across the globe to experience the reds, oranges, and yellows that illuminate the rolling hills, mountains, and meadows of Western Massachusetts.
And you can experience the spectacular fall foliage, and so much more, at Mass Audubon’s four wildlife sanctuaries in the Berkshires.
At Canoe Meadows, three miles of gentle trails guide you through wetlands and fields with open views of October Mountain State Forest and the north end of Yokun Ridge.
On a calm day, colorful leaves reflect in the glassy waters of West Pond, and waterfowl like Wood Ducks, grebes, and geese take advantage of sheltered areas along the Housatonic River. Sparrows and goldfinches pick at leftovers from the Community Gardens, located off of Williams Street, where members tend to 50 plots each year.
Ten minutes from Canoe Meadows sits Pleasant Valley, Mass Audubon’s largest sanctuary in the region. Here, you can take an adventurous hike up the Trail of the Ledges to the top of Lenox Mountain (elevation 2,113 feet) for sweeping views of the region, including Richmond Pond and Mount Greylock.
Looking for equal beauty without the elevation? Meander along Pleasant Valley’s accessible All Persons Trail, which takes you to tranquil Pike’s Pond. Sitting on the bench looking across the pond, you might catch sight of a beaver preparing for winter or glimpse a Cooper's Hawk migrating overhead.
The colors of fall are not limited to foliage—Pleasant Valley's historic barn will showcase two nature-inspired art shows as part of its 90th anniversary celebration. For generations, artists have been inspired to interpret the mystery and beauty of nature. At the September art show, Art in the Barn: Pathways to Nature, local artists will have the opportunity to display their work. In October, Forces of Nature explores work developed by artists with disabilities through a new collaboration with Community Access to the Arts.
Just over the mountain in Richmond, there is no shortage of wildlife to see at Tracy Brook, despite having no trails. Park and walk to the observation area to take in the colorful ridge behind the 21-acre beaver wetland and heron rookery.
On a fall evening, you might see beavers building a winter cache of freshly cut willow twigs or ducks and geese settling in for a night on the open water.
Lime Kiln Farm
Mass Audubon's southernmost wildlife sanctuary in the Berkshires has been known to host more than 500 species of plants, including many rare varieties. Lime Kiln Farm's rolling hayfields, limestone ridge, conifer forest, and former pastures attract more than 50 species of butterflies as well as Pileated Woodpeckers, Alder Flycatchers, and Red Foxes.
Walk along the two and a half miles of trails to see the circa-1909 40-foot-tall kiln (limestone was once quarried there and turned into lime) and check out a magnificent view of Mount Everett beyond an open field—a sight that will stay with you long after you return home.