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Heritage Walks

by Kathryn Boughton

It has been 15 years since the organizers of the Upper Housatonic Valley National Heritage Area decided to celebrate the rich historic, cultural and natural bounty of the area by sponsoring a plethora of events each fall.

The heritage area encompasses the watershed of the upper Housatonic River between Lanesboro MA and Kent CT an area of some 964 square miles and 29 towns. The geographic and historical diversity of this area is evident in the range of “walks” made available to enthusiasts each year in September and October.

All types of heritage walks are offered, ranging from tours of historic buildings, cemeteries and town centers to hikes on the Appalachian Trail, walks through industrial heritage sites and ruins, walks and bike rides on historical country roads, behind-the-scenes tours at performing arts venues and strolls through formal gardens and estates. Also included is a canoe paddling trip on the Housatonic River and “family friendly” walks.

Local experts lead the tours.

Many historically and culturally significant venues open their doors and conservation organizations provide access to significant resource areas, providing interpretive talks.

The walks are scheduled for September 17th and 18th; 24th and 25th and October 1st and 2nd. In all, 52 opportunities will be presented.

The largest number of events—24—are offered on the first weekend. Participants will have a chance—among other activities—to take a paddling trip on the Housatonic in Stockbridge MA; explore ecology and industry in the Berkshires; take a self-guided tour of the South Canaan Meetinghouse in Falls Village; view the Berkshire Street Railway electric towers built in 1913; learn about West Stockbridge MA historic neighborhoods; construct fairy houses at Herman Melville’s Arrowhead museum in Pittsfield MA; and explore centuries worth of stone walls at the Bidwell House Museum in Monterey MA.

In Connecticut, they can hike the Appalachian Trail from Bulls Bridge to 10-Mile Sanctuary; learn about the rise and fall of the Ames Iron Works in Salisbury; view efforts to restore the American chestnut to the landscape and much more.

Many of the programs will be repeated on following weekends, but September 24th and 25th will also bring a tour of the historic Colonial Theater in Pittsfield MA, an exploration of the Warren CT Land Trust’s Coords Preserve; three guided tours of Torys Cave in New Milford; an Appalachian Trail hike to Tyringham, Cobble in Tyringham MA; an investigation of Native American heritage at the Institute for American Indian Studies in Washington CT; and, in Washington MA, an exploration of “the secrets of Muddy Pond” and the building of the first U.S. railroad mountain crossing.

In Stockbridge MA, a leisurely 19-mile bike ride through Tyringham Valley to the Ashintully Gardens is planned. Many other events are also to be offered.

The final weekend, October 1st and 2nd, brings many opportunities, including a chance to learn about old-growth white pines in Northwestern Connecticut, to hike the Royal Trail at the Bidwell House Museum in Monterey MA; a hike in Norfolk CT’s Great Mountain Forest; a behind-the-scenes tour of Tanglewood in Lenox MA; a tour of organic Mill River Farm in Mill River MA and a tour of the new Hall of Connecticut Geology in Kent.

For further details about these events and others planned for the three fall weekends, visit the link below.