Monday, September 22, 2008

Hiking - Race Mountain (Berkshires)

Holly wanted to climb something with some elevation and a view today, so we headed for the Berkshires of Massachusetts, only a little over an hour away. I love living here - it's central to so many things!! Race Mountain is about a 3-mile 1700-foot climb, with some nice waterfalls along the way. Amazingly, neither of us had ever been there before, so there was the added bonus of seeing some new territory. The hike involves about a 2-mile stiff climb from the valley to the ridge via the Race Brook Trail, and then a rolling 1-mile hike along the Appalachian Trail to the summit.

Just before the steepest part of the climb, we reached the upper falls on Race Brook. There had earlier been a separate loop trail to some lower falls, but we saved that for the trip down.

We passed through a designated AT camping area, and then reached the AT itself and turned south toward Race Mountain. We reached the summit about a half-hour later, where there were 360-degree views. Mount Everett dominates the view to the north.

We continued a little beyond the summit, descending slightly along the south ridge to some east-facing ledges with outstanding, though hazy, views of the valley below.

We returned north back over the summit, and headed down. On the way back down to the valley, we followed the other loop trail for the lower falls, but lost it in a confusing maze of unofficial paths that surrounded the stream. We saw the falls from a distance, but it was getting late, and we elected not to do the additional climb that would have been necessary to get closer. We followed the stream back down until we intersected the main trail, and returned to the car. Ice cream, as usual, on the way home ended a nice day.

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