2014  HIKING, CYCLING,

& RV TRAVEL ADVENTURES

 

   
 
Runtrails' Web Journal
 
Previous       2014 Journal Topics       Home       Next
 

   CAMPING @ PROSPECT LAKE STATE PARK, 
N. EGREMONT, MA + A SCENIC DRIVE
THROUGH THE BERKSHIRE MOUNTAINS

WEDNESDAY, JULY 16

 
"The Berkshires welcome you with four seasons of culture, history, and outdoor adventure.   
Whether your idea of paradise is sipping fresh cider on a romantic New England bed
and breakfast hearth or traveling scenic country roads through the Berkshire
 mountains, Berkshire County is the perfect year 'round destination."
 
~ See the Berkshires website
 
 
Many people travel to the Berkshires for its art, music, skiing, and shopping in quaint little towns.

Although we're interested in culture and history, we came here primarily to see more of the charming architecture and scenic beauty in western Connecticut and Massachusetts than we were able to see during our Appalachian Trail Adventure in 2005.

Then I was just focused on moving north along the Trail as quickly as possible. Jim was so busy keeping everything operating smoothly that he had little time to see much of the Trail or the interesting little New England towns he drove through when he moved the RV from campground to campground.


Photo I took into the valley from Greylock Mountain when I was doing the AT;
I saw farms and towns mostly from this perspective, not at ground level.   (8-12-05)

Now we wanted to spend a little more time exploring the area.

This entry describes our trip from the Poconos, our first of two campgrounds in the Berkshires, and a day trip through the lovely mountains of western Massachusetts. (Berkshire County covers the whole western side of Massachusetts from the Connecticut border to the Vermont border. It's approximately 25 miles wide and 50 miles long.)

FROM THE POCONOS TO THE BERKSHIRES

Yesterday we drove to our current campground near the small town of North Egremont in far southwestern Massachusetts from Promised Land State Park in Pennsylvania, a distance of 184 miles.

This was our scenic route PA 390 north to I-84. I-84 east through the rest of PA and part of NY to Danbury, CT, then north on US 7 to Great Barrington, MA. West on MA 41 to MA 71 Prospect Lake Rd. and Prospect Lake Park.

 

Traffic was heavy across the broad Hudson River (above) and moderately heavy on the rest of I-84. Jim was glad to exit the freeway and get on US 7 north of Danbury. We're glad we probably won't be on another freeway for several weeks. If we are, it won't be for long and it'll be in much less urban areas in New England.

The scenery was all we hoped for and more on our way to Prospect Lake. The freeway through PA and NY was hilly, heavily treed, and mostly very rural.

US 7 is just gorgeous most of its length, especially when you can see the Housatonic River on one side or the other. I took a picture of one of the covered bridges (shown above) from the highway. We passed close to several others that we couldn't go back to see because of the camper.

We really enjoyed US 7. There are pretty houses and yards along the way, interesting towns like Kent, CT, long stacked stone fences, and scenic farmland.


A bookstore in Kent

I didn't see many of those things when I did the AT nine years ago. Jim remembered several things we saw today because he was on the roads a lot more back then than I was. This is our first time since then to visit New England.

We stopped for about an hour in Kent, CT. We didn't get to explore the artsy town when we were here in '05 because it was raining heavily after I got off the AT on a trailhead near Kent.

Yesterday we parked along the highway just north of the two-block "downtown" area and walked the dogs for a few minutes so I could see the shops and some beautifully-restored old houses which have been turned into stores or art galleries:

There is a lot of public art in town, too.

Although this isn't as aesthetically pleasing (to me) as some of the other sculptures we saw, we were both intrigued by this big ball of intertwined plastic letters near a restaurant:

 

AT hikers often come into this town to re-supply and hang out for a little while.

I saw one young male thru-hiker napping on a bench near this old train depot which has been converted into shops. I took his picture but since it was unbeknownst to him, I'm not including it here -- just the old depot:

PROSPECT LAKE PARK

We had hoped to find a nice campground closer to Kent for our next stop but for several reasons we were unable to find a suitable place. We ended up about 15 miles into Massachusetts at Prospect Lake Park near North Egremont.

Even though we stayed here in our old HitchHiker 5th-wheel for one or two nights in 2005 we don't remember any of it! That says something about how focused we were on getting the AT done.

Warning to other Rvers:  This is a nice campground but it's not suitable for big rigs.

Unfortunately, the website doesn't say that and the woman who took my reservation didn't warn me when I called a few days ago. They think it's perfectly fine for a 36-foot 5th-wheel, travel trailer, or motorhome. We're here to tell you that's questionable. Some of the sites are long enough and wide enough for big rigs but the roads are too narrow and/or the trees are too close to maneuver a large RV into almost every site in this park.

And if you stay here get an escort to your site so you don't make a wrong turn and have to back out. Been there, done that, and Jim won't forget the harrowing experience any time soon -- no damage to the rig, but ulcer-inducing.

We have a nice "pull-through" site. It is pull-through for little rigs but not one as large as ours. Once we found the correct access road we got into it easily enough. However, we can't make the sharp turn to get out when we leave so Jim will have to back out of it. Fortunately, that should not be difficult.

 

We have 30 amps, water, and sewer. The regular rate is $34/night plus $4/night for the dogs, minus 20% military rate, plus tax = about $31/night for three nights.

Also note that all the roads and sites in this park are dirt, not gravel or paved. It was nice and sunny when we arrived yesterday but it rained very hard last night. Because our site is not sloped correctly, we had a pond in our front yard during the night. It was mostly drained by the time I took the dogs out this morning. The rest of the week should be clear.

Most of the sites here are seasonal, occupied by various types of RVs that are semi-permanent with decks and patios. Many have nice flowers and other landscaping:

 

Some rigs have been here quite a while and trees have grown up around them. One woman said she has lived here for 15 summers.

It is mid-week so most of the overnight sites will be empty until the weekend. Some short-term vacationers are here in smaller rigs or tents that can be set up next to the lake.

 

 

Prospect Lake is rather small but it is pretty and the water looks clean. The dogs enjoy swimming near the boat dock area, where several canoes, kayaks, and row boats are docked (some are for rent). There is a swimming beach, long slide to get in the water, and kids' play area near the office, plus a volleyball court and pavilion.

We can recommend this place for people with tents or small to medium-sized RVs. There are several camping loops, most of them too narrow and/or lined with tree branches too low for a large camper to pass through.

DAY-TRIPPING THROUGH THE BERKSHIRES

We took advantage of a warm, sunny day today to make a large loop through western Massachusetts.

One goal was to pick up our mail in North Adams, about a 50-mile drive, and to check out our next campsite there. After the difficulty we had with our site at Prospect Lake, Jim wanted to be sure we could get into our next site with less trauma. We also wanted to drive through Greylock Mountain State Reservation and enjoy more interesting Berkshire scenery.


View from Fitch Overlook on Mt. Greylock

It's a beautiful drive continuing north on US 7 past Great Barrington. Much of the terrain is lush wooded and farm land between strung-out towns with lovely old architecture from the 1700s and 1800s. There's a lot of "history" here and many of the homes and gardens/landscaping have been well-preserved.

I especially enjoyed driving through Stockbridge twice and regret that I won't have time to take a walking tour of the downtown area before we move on up the road.

We didn't make any stops until we got to North Adams. Jim got the mail and I picked up a few tourist brochures at the nearby Chamber of Commerce. Then we located the city campground where we'll be staying this weekend. Jim was relieved to see that our site there will be manageable.


View of Greylock summit (left) from the scenic byway

This is another campground where we stayed in 2005 when we did the AT Adventure but neither of us remembers being there. We both remember some parts of the town, particularly all the stately white marble buildings. There are many pretty marble and quartz rocks along the Trail in the nearby mountains.

Then we hunted for AT trailheads on the Mt. Greylock Scenic Byway, a narrow, winding 11-mile road over Mt. Greylock. We started at the north end from N. Adams off US 2 and drove south to the end with the visitor center near US 7 in Lanesborough.

We could see into the valleys on either side of the ridge and crossed the AT several times. I'll be hiking up to the summit on the AT tomorrow.


Jim looks at the relief map at the Greylock visitor center.
The south approach of the AT to the 3,491-foot summit is lit up. 

Before exiting the park we stopped in the visitor center at the south end and got some brochures re: other trails on the mountain.

The ranger told us about a scenic multi-use trail that runs through the Hoosic Valley from Adams to Lanesborough. Both of us want to ride it this weekend after we move to N. Adams. We haven't found any good places near Egremont for Jim to safely ride his bike.

LAUREL HILL TRAIL

On our way back through Stockbridge we turned on Park Ave. and parked in a small area next to a pedestrian bridge across the Housatonic River. We learned about three trails from this trailhead in one of the brochures I picked up in N. Adams.

 

We chose to take the flatter crushed rock path along the east side of the river, out and back about 3/4 mile total. (The mosquitoes were bad and we didn't have bug spray with us.) Dogs are allowed on this trail.

 

There's another relatively short trail that leads to some glacial boulders that have ice crystals in them all year long but we didn't go there today.

The third trail goes to the top of a small mountain and reportedly has nice views into the valley.

Next entrysharing one of my favorite AT sections with Jim and Casey -- Sages Ravine and Bear Mountain summit

Happy trails,

Sue
"Runtrails & Company" - Sue Norwood, Jim O'Neil, Cody the ultra Lab, and Casey-pup

Previous       Next

2014 Sue Norwood and Jim O'Neil

-