It is a long 90-minute drive (each way) to visit my in-laws in upstate New York. Gone are the days that the kids would pass out in their car seats by the end of our driveway and I could drive for hours, reveling in the silence.
Nowadays the kids are bouncing in their booster seats, excited to visit Nanny and Papa’s farm and asking “are we there yet” as we’re passing the Berkshire Mall. The “don’t make me turn this car around” threats are flying by the time we hit the New Ashford town line and the invariable requests for snacks and drinks begins.
Then all at once, it will be silent. One of them will finally notice a mountain, a wind mill or a herd of cows. We’ve hit that magical stretch of Route 7, passing through Williamstown, that boasts scenic views that can even shut up two feuding four-year-olds.
It’s become our new tradition to plan our trips to the farm allowing for time to stop and stretch or legs and have a snack break (and tire the kids out for the remainder of the ride) at one of our three favorite kid-friendly hiking spots in Williamstown.
The first is Field Farm, located at 554 Sloan Road. (Traveling north on Route 7, take a left on Sloan Rd just before the Store at Five Corners. You will soon see the sign for the farm on your right.)
The parking area is to the right as you enter the property, where trail maps are available. The pond trail is a quick loop, complete with wooded bridges that is perfect for small kids.
The 1 mile North Trail will guide you past spectacular outdoor sculptures and unbeatable mountain views. The Caves Loop will capture young explorers imaginations as they watch the small stream disappear into a series of underground caves.
STONE HILL AT CLARK ART
Another favorite hiking spot for us in Williamstown is Stone Hill at the Clark Art Institute at 225 South Street.
The home of one of the most extraordinary art collections in the world is set in an extraordinarily beautiful, environmentally sustainable 140-acre rural setting. The Stone Hill hiking trails are well-maintained and well-suited to small hikers.
We always park at the top of the hill to the left of the property in the parking area behind the Lunder Center, where there is easy access to the Woodland and Meadow Trails. (It’s also the perfect spot for some winter sledding or snow shoeing.) There are bathrooms available just inside the Lunder Center and a cafe with outdoor seating and incredible views of the entire campus.
NOTE TO READERS: Stone Hill Family Day will be held at the Clark Art Institute on Sunday, October 2 from 11 am–3 pm. Admission to the galleries is free all day, and all activities are free. The event marks the return of Kite Day, a beloved Williamstown tradition. Bring a kite to fly atop Stone Hill and celebrate the Clark’s exhibition Sensing Place: Reflecting on Stone Hill, on view at the Lunder Center at Stone Hill through October 10, 2016.
MOUNTAIN MEADOW PRESERVE
Even young kids will have little trouble making the trek from Massachusetts to Vermont along this beautiful scenic trail, with views of Mt. Greylock and the Hoosac Valley.
The preserve offers four miles of trails (cross country skiers welcome). To find the entrance and parking area, follow Rt 7 north of the rotary to Mason Street (on you’re right, just before the state line).
Thank you to Francie Jarowski for the use of her photos. To see more of Francie’s fabulous pictures of Berkshire hiking trails, follow her on Instagram @nabiastorm .