Photo: R. Cheek
Bright fall color at Rock House Reservation in West Brookfield, Massachusetts.
By Gail Ravgiala
The Autumnal Equinox hadn’t yet passed when Sunday River and Sugarloaf ski resorts fired up their snow-making guns, a feat made possible by the early onset of frosty cold temperatures in the mountains of central Maine. That can’t be good for fall’s biggest tourist attraction to the Pine Tree State, leaf-peeping. Freezing temperatures and hard frosts can lead to poor fall color and cause trees to lose their leaves early, according to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA).
Lucky for us in southern New England, the weather has provided the sunny days and cool, frostless nights that yield the brightest foliage colors. Even luckier for those considering a jaunt through Massachusetts to see what you can see before the leaves fall, The Trustees of Reservations (thetrustees.org), an organization whose mission it is “to preserve, for public use and enjoyment, properties of exceptional scenic, historic, and ecological value in Massachusetts,” has several sites in their care that are magical in their autumn glory.
As Columbus Day weekend, a traditionally high tourist time for such endeavors, approaches consider a trip to central and western Massachusetts to take in these special places.
Photo: R. Cheek
The view of Monument Mountain in Great Barrington, Massachusetts.
MONUMENT MOUNTAIN, Great Barrington
For more than 20,000 visitors a year, a hike to the top is an annual rite. More than three miles of trails leading through a white pine and oak forest with mountain laurel, hemlock, maple, and birch end with a “reward” of panoramic views of Southern Berkshire County from the summit.
BARTHOLOMEW’S COBBLE, Sheffield
Boasting more forest types than anywhere else in Berkshire County, “Bart’s” foliage show is memorable. Climb the Tulip Tree trail to the top of Hurlburt’s Hill, settle onto a bench, and take in the Housatonic Valley vistas.
PEAKED MOUNTAIN, Monson
Explore woods roads through a former working forest and trek to a summit that rewards with spectacular panoramic views from Mount Wachusett to Vermont’s Green Mountains.
ROCK HOUSE RESERVATION, West Brookfield
Carter Pond becomes a kaleidoscope when the trees lining its shores reflect their seasonal colors in its surface. Located only a short walk from the parking lot, this is an ideal family destination.
BRYANT HOMESTEAD, Cummington
The iconic estate boasts 150-foot evergreens, yellow-leaved birches, and a glen of old-growth trees. But the Homestead’s hallmark is its entrance allee of sugar maples blazing a brilliant red in the fall.
BEAR SWAMP, Ashfield
Follow the trail from the parking lot a few hundred yards to a serene Beaver pond, surrounded by maple, birch, and other tree species showing off their colors. From the Apple Valley Overlook, enjoy a rainbow canopy of forest and to the north, the impressive Green Mountains of Vermont.
For overnight accommodations, the Trustees offer its campground in Royalston and a guest house in Williamstown.
TULLY LAKE CAMPGROUND, Royalston
A tent-only campground set along the shores of a 200-acre lake in Royalston Massachusetts, Tully Lake Campground showcases the best of New England fall foliage and outdoor recreation. Paddle up the picturesque Tully River, or explore the islands and inlets on the lake. Hike to tranquil overlooks and roaring waterfalls, or mountain bike the 7-mile loop around Long Pond. Fish off the campground banks or lounge in the refreshing shade of towering pine trees. Open through Columbus Day. For more information and reservations visit www.thetrustees.org/tullylake.
The sitting room at Field Farm is surrounded by nature.
THE GUEST HOUSE AT FIELD FARM, Williamstown
Featuring an unparalleled view of Mount Greylock, Massachusetts’s highest peak, the Guest House at Field Farm is a refreshing change from your usual bed & breakfast offering a unique and authentic modern art experience in spectacular natural surroundings. Situated in the heart of Field Farm’s 316 acres, the conserved land offers trails that through the patchwork landscape of cropland, pastures, mixed forest, marshes, and a stream and pond. For more information, visit www.thetrustees.org/field-farm, or call 413-458-3135.
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