Set out for the mountains and valleys just north and south of the Capital Region and that’s what you’ll find on these day trips geared in particular for those of us ages 21 and plus.
Hudson Valley and Berkshires
Sense(s) of history:
The Hancock Shaker Village in Pittsfield, MA, wants visitors to obtain a sense of history and more. Curators have designed the 750-acre, 20-building site as a living museum that taps all the senses. Established in 1783, this was the third community formed after eight Shakers, or United Society of Believers in Christ’s Second Appearing, arrived in America in 1774. At its height in the 1840s, the Hancock society, named by its residents as the City of Peace, was home to 300 Believers on 3,000 acres. The population slipped to 50 in the early 20th century and continued to dwindle, with buildings demolished and land sold. Preservation efforts began in the 1960s. Nineteen societies existed from Maine to Indiana. And yes, there’s a trail today of the various Shaker sites including the first, in Albany County – www.nps.gov/nr/travel/shaker/intro.htm.
The Shakers’ high level of skill, industriousness and innovation—and the important role of music—are demonstrated in the exhibits and activities at the Village, from watching woodworking and the water turbine in action, to joining in singing, to hearing about the beliefs and culture and getting a whiff of the cooking, to visiting livestock and flower and vegetable gardens. And of course, the creativity and efficiency of the community is in the site’s signature building, the 1826 round stone barn, the only circular barn ever built by the Shakers.
Hiking trails, café and shop also are on site. The Village is located at 1843 West Housatonic St., Pittsfield MA, 01201, at the intersection of Routes 20 and 41 in Pittsfield, Learn more about the Village and scheduling of events at www.hancockshakervillage.org; 413.443.0188.
In good taste: There’s a lot of handcrafted brewing, distilling and wine-making going on in the Hudson Valley and Berkshires. How do you find these innovative folks and their tasty—and much acclaimed—products? Follow the trail. The nine members of the Hudson Berkshire Beverage Trail are delighted to introduce you to whet (and wet) your appetite.
Trail Director Karen Gardy says that in addition to tasting, it’s likely that they will tell you something you didn’t know about their craft as you tour the facilities. A number are housed on historic farms. Now in its eighth year, the Hudson Valley Berkshire trail includes five wineries and four distilleries that produce such beverages as whiskey, vodka, gin and rum—see member description. The trail was included in “5 great drinking trails” in the country by Paste, an online arts and lifestyles publication, and members have received plaudits for their creations. For example, an American single malt from Hillrock Estates has received an International Review of Spirits Award: Gold Medal as exceptional from the Beverage Testing Institute (tastings.com/search_spirits.lasso).
Stop at one or multiple sites. On the second Saturday from June through December, except October, purchase a wristband at the first location that will provide the opportunity to visit the other trail members. Check the member web sites for additional hours for visits and features. Learn more at the trail web site: www.hudsonberkshirewinefestival.com/hudsonberkshireexperience.html.
Hudson Valley Berkshires Beverage Trail
Berkshire Mountain Distillers
356 South Main Street, Sheffield, MA
– A founding members of the craft distiller movement and the Berkshires’ first legal distillery since prohibition; award-winning artisanal spirits including Ice Glen Vodka, Greylock Gin, Ragged Mountain Rum, Berkshire Bourbon and New England Corn Whiskey.
Brookview Station Winery
Goold Orchards, 1297 Brookview Station Road, Castleton, NY 12033
– A nearly century old family farm; award-winning wines made from the site’s
Clermont Vineyards and Winery
241 County Route 6, Clermont, NY 12526
– On a former dairy farm; wines crafted using grapes grown on premises.
Furnace Brook Winery
Hilltop Orchards, 508 Canaan Road/Route 295, Richmond, MA 01254
www.furnacebrookwinery.com; 413.698.3301; 800.833.6274
– On a 100 year-old farm set on 200 acres; award-winning wines from select Northeast varietal grapes and estate-grown apples.
Golden Harvest Farm, 3074 US Route 9, Valatie, NY 12184
– Distilling only 100 gallons at a time, but flexible and precise enough to create some of the country’s very best vodka; includes flavored vodkas and brandies.
Hillrock Estate Distillery
408 Pooles Hill Road, Ancram, NY 12502
– One of the few “field-to-glass” whiskey producers in the world and the first US distillery since before Prohibition to floor malt and hand craft whiskey on site from estate grown grain. Tours by appointment only.
1900 Route 66, Ghent, NY 12075
– Family winery, specializing in small hand-made batches of wine.
Hudson Valley Distillers
Spirits Grove Farm, 1727 Route 9, Clermont, NY 12526
– In a 150-year old renovated barn; creates small batch vodka, applejack and whisky from local ingredients; Cocktail Grove with innovative cocktails and light, local fare.
1774 Route 9, Germantown NY, 12526
– Overlooking the Hudson River and the Catskill mountains; 15 acres of Chardonnay, Riesling and Pinot Noir under production.
Where Gilded Age and wilderness meet:
A different sort of innovation was taking place in the late 19th century to our North, where a romance with the wilderness was blossoming. This included the creation of the Adirondack Park in 1892 and the construction of great camps as recreational retreats for the well-to-do of the Gilded Age. The life and culture in these rustic-style castles in the wilderness can be seen in a visit to Great Camp Sagamore near Raquette Lake, built by William West Durant, son of Union Pacific Railroad General Manager Thomas Durant. In addition to multi-building great camp compounds beginning in the late 1870s, Durant took on projects to increase access—building roads, telegraphs, post office, rail and dams, dredging channels and commissioning steamboats. Completed in 1893, Sagamore was acquired by Alfred Vanderbilt and used by the family for more than a half century.
Today, Sagamore is an independent nonprofit dedicated to education, examining and interpreting cultural, economic and political history of human interface with this wilderness region. The 27 restored wood and stone structures include bark-covered guest cottages, the iconic chalet-style lodge, dining hall with a capacity of almost 100, bowling alley, boathouse lakeside, while the workers’ living quarters, barn, workshops, working blacksmith shop, and school for the children of staff are situated in the woods.
In addition to tours of the buildings and exhibits, artisans and educators in residence provide demonstrations during July and August, such as boat building, blacksmithing, rug braiding, herb gardening, pack basket making, and chair caning.
Guided tours of approximately two hours are available 10am and 1:30pm daily through September 7 and 1:30pm daily through October 12. Self-guided tours also can be taken during operating hours. Visit www.greatcampsagamore.org for schedules, events and more information about day visits, multi-day residencies, and the history of the site.
Reaching great heights
Preparation and planning. Those are the key words when contemplating a hike ascending a High Peak in the Adirondacks, or 46 of them. Before setting out, consult a guidebook (or two); consider health, weather conditions, apparel and other factors; learn about the nature you may encounter; talk with people who have been up there; know the conditions and hiking skills required for the particular mountains; and, ultimately, figure out what mountains suit your circumstances. A bit of background about the mountains will add to your appreciation. Here’s a taste, beginning with a question: Did you know that there is a Capital Region connection to the High Peaks history?
Between 1918 and 1925, Bob and George Marshall, along with guide Herbert Clark, made history as the first to climb all 46 peaks. Only 12 had trails and even those were without trail markers. Bob’s 1922 booklet on these treks and a subsequent history of early climbers sparked a group of parishioners of Grace Methodist Church of Troy to follow their example in the 1930s. Rev. Ernest Ryder and church member Edward Hudowalski established the Forty-Sixers of Troy hiking club after completing all 46 in 1936. Climbers were urged to write about their treks. The club and this registration tradition continue today. More than 7,000 have followed their treks to the top.
Mountains considered to be 4,000 feet or more were grouped in the 46. While we know now that four are a bit shy of this elevation and one mountain was not included, the original 46 have not been changed. Conditions have improved vastly since the hikes of the first 46ers but 20 do not have official trails to the peaks.
Read more about the High Peaks and the Forty-Sixers at adk46er.org.
The High Peaks
Rank Mountain Elevation (feet)
1 Marcy 5344
2 Algonquin 5114
3 Haystack 4960
4 Skylight 4926
5 Whiteface 4867
6 Dix 4857
7 Gray 4840
8 Iroquois Peak 4840
9 Basin 4827
10 Gothics 4736
11 Colden 4714
12 Giant 4627
13 Nippletop 4620
14 Santanoni 4607
15 Redfield 4606
16 Wright Peak 4580
17 Saddleback 4515
18 Panther 4442
19 TableTop 4427
20 Rocky Peak 4420
21 Macomb 4405
22 Armstrong 4400
23 Hough 4400
24 Seward 4361
25 Marshall 4360
26 Allen 4340
27 Big Slide 4240
28 Esther 4240
29 Upper Wolf Jaw 4185
30 Lower Wolf Jaw 4175
31 Street 4166
32 Phelps 4161
33 Donaldson 4140
34 Seymour 4120
35 Sawteeth 4100
36 Cascade 4098
37 South Dix 4060
38 Porter 4059
39 Colvin 4057
40 Emmons 4040
41 Dial 4020
42 East Dix 4012
43 Blake Peak 3960
44 Cliff 3960
45 Nye 3895
46 Couchsachraga 3820
*Although the most recent USGS measures MacNaughton at 4000, 46ers are not required to climb it. From adk46er.org.