Regional Rambles: Short And Easy Winter Hikes
By Jamie Larson
With the Berkshire Mountains and the Hudson River in our midst, we are fortunate to live in a region of incomparable beauty. A long, invigorating weekend hike through our forests, streams, hills and fields will leave one deeply awed by the humble grandeur of it all…
(Insert screeching brakes here.)
Reality check: Yes, it’s been really cold this winter, like polar vortex cold. The snow is deep again, and there’s a whole season of that show you’ve been meaning to watch on Netflix, and there are blankets and radiators. Nothing wrong with that snug-as-a-bug-in-a-rug thing.
So let’s compromise. Let’s go hike down a great trail (for a little while), let’s climb up to a sweeping view (one not that far from the car) and enjoy the snow-capped beauty of our amazing area while it lasts (and then go get a bowl of soup and a sandwich). These great, abbreviated hikes will get your heart rate up, smite your cabin fever, deliver a moment’s peace and get you back home feeling all the better for it.
The Fields Sculpture Park at Omi International Arts Center
The spring, summer and fall provide a myriad of complex canvases for the world-class artists who present their sculptures in the fields, woods and bogs of Omi. When surrounded by nature’s color, the pieces have a lot to play off of, and compete with, for attention. In wintertime, the snow creates a blank canvas for the art and greatly impacts the contrast and intensity of each sculpture.
The walk around the sculpture park is a short loop with diverging trails that are usually well enough packed down a day or two after snowfall. Omi is a great place to bring a dog for exercise in the winter.
If the walk works up your appetite, Café Omi at the visitors center is open on weekends, and offers a limited but sophisticated selection of sandwiches, snacks and warm drinks, along with a fine exhibit in the gallery room.
1405 County Route 22, Ghent, NY
Open every day 11 a.m. - 5 p.m.
We’re all well accustomed by now to the joys of visiting these two world-class institutions in the summer. We go to Tanglewood for the Boston Symphony Orchestra and James Taylor and to Jacob’s Pillow to view the best the dance world has to offer. But we do so always in a crowd. Wandering these grounds, now cloaked in snow and silence, imparts a sense of personal connection and ownership that will resonate the next time you’re there with the adoring throngs.
The rolling grounds of both locations are open weekdays and weekends, except holidays, and the paths are plowed and gentle in slope. After a short stroll, head to the Lion’s Den in Stockbridge for soup, a sandwich and a warming drink.
Tanglewood, 297 West Street, Lenox, MA
Jacob’s Pillow, 358 George Carter Road, Becket, MA
Both grounds are open every day, hours subject to change.
There are few cemeteries anywhere that rival the eccentric historical handsomeness of Hudson’s Cedar Park Cemetery. From its location on a nearly comically steep hill to the worn old stones and regal mausoleums of its dead residents, the vast acreage exudes intrigue. Winter makes the grounds that much more ghostly. There are endless meandering trails and much along the way, including a spectacular westerly view from the top of the hill. Stopping to read ancient grave stones and peek through the crack in the door on a tomb may get your heart racing no matter how cold the day. Afterwards, warm your bones with the freshly baked offerings at Bonfiglio & Bread.
20 Columbia Turnpike, Hudson, NY
Open as the sun shines and closed during hours of darkness.
This pastoral, meandering trail was designed in 1849 to inspire one to think about the connection between landscape and poetry, and so it does. Walking through the white hills of winter, one’s own breath seems to huff poetry and the wind in the trees whispers it back. Here, in the midst of nature’s muse, you are accompanied by the venerable poets who walked these paths before you. Washington Irving, William Cullen Bryant, and Jack Kerouac looked out on these same frozen meadows. When you’re there, they’re yours alone. Bring a notebook.
When your sense of awe is satiated, go get inspired by one of the “Eat Good, Feel Good” sandwiches at Rusty’s Farm Fresh Eatery.
Look for the sign on the west side of River Road, Red Hook, NY
Open every day.