Tuesday, September 23, 2014

Housatonic Heritage Hike to Jug End

The fall brings the Housatonic Heritage Walk weekends.  They are held one weekend in September and one in October. The 2014 Heritage Walks are a partnership of the numerous heritage organizations in the Upper Housatonic River Valley, the Berkshire Visitors Bureau, and the National Park Service. The Upper Housatonic Valley National Heritage Area is one of only 49 in the country designated by the federal government.

The Upper Housatonic Valley runs from Kent, Connecticut, to Lanesborough, Massachusetts.  It includes 964 square miles of the upper Housatonic River watershed, and is bordered by the Taconics to the West and the Berkshire Plateau to the East. For a map of the area follow this LINK

The themes of cultural resort (writers, artists, performing arts, music), shaping a scenic landcape (conservation following industrialization and deforestation), cradle of industry (iron, paper and electrical industries), revolutionary war and the development of democracy, and social groups (Shakers, African-Americans, American Indians, and ethnic groups) all helped define the designation as a Heritage Area. 
The variety of Heritage Walks held on the two weekends encompass an array of experiences that are sure to capture interest of anyone seeking to learn, explore, and appreciate this area. 

Being that the Appalachian National Scenic Trail is a unit of the National Park Service, we decided to host a hike based out of the Kellogg Conservation Center for the September weekend and one in Connecticut on the October weekend. 

The hike on Sunday, September 21st to the Jug End vista on the A.T. was co-led by ATC staff, Silvia, and Great Barrington Trails and Great Barrington Land Conservancy representative, Christine Ward.  The hike drew participants from Great Barrington, South Egremont, and Falls Village, CT.  The humidity was high, and the rocks were a tad damp, but the group had a wonderful time.  

The hike from the Kellogg Conservation Center to Jug End vista is heading South on the A.T. and is 4 miles round trip. The first mile is through the field and forest abutting Route 41 and Jug End Road.  The second mile climbs up to the vista passing a glacial erratic before proceeding up several rock staircases and a few ledgy areas.  

One of first supporters of the A.T. in this area hailed from Sheffield, MA, which we can see easily from the vista. The original group that worked on this MA section of the A.T. was called the Berkshire Hills Conference. We discussed the former Jug End Barn Resort and memories locals had from the bygone day of recreation and skiing, and how wonderful the Jug End State Reservation is to hike now (invasives aside).  

Some participants were familiar with the cooperative management of the A.T., but others were not.  It was a great way to get folks moving and learning.  

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