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Wednesday, January 1, 2014

Shaker Mountain

Happy New Year 2014!  Kicked off the brand new year with a hike just outside the Hancock Shaker Village to the summit of 1860 foot Shaker Mountain.  Most of the trail is actually located in the Pittsfield State Forest, which offers plenty of other trail options depending on your time and ability.  Parked at the small parking lot located along Route 20, which offers direct access to the trail.  The formal parking area and trailhead are located at the Shaker Village across the street.
One of the benefits of doing a winter hike is lack of foliage, affording a better opportunity for views.  This is a view back at the Shaker Village which would only be a broken view with the leaves on the trees.  The large red building on the left is an 1830 brick dwelling, which housed about 100 Shakers during their time and today is the location of the largest collection of Shaker furniture and other artifacts.  Straight ahead is the only round barn ever built by the Shakers dating all the way back to 1826.
A short distance down the trail is the now frozen Shaker Reservoir, which was constructed in 1790.  Looks like there has been some recent ice skating attempts.
Shaker Reservoir.
As you continue along the old cart road, the sounds of a rushing stream quickly become audible.  Those are the sounds of the beautiful Shaker Brook.  The crystal clear mountain stream descends from the mountains of the state forest and empties into nearby Richmond Pond.
Shaker Brook played a vital role in the Shakers community, enabling them to use it as a labor saving device in itself and to produce other labor saving devices.
A charming waterfall on the brook is located at the remains of the lower dam, which supplied waterpower to the village.
The trail turns right at this point where the CCC(Civillian Conservation Corps) trail continues straight. A sturdy wooden footbridge crosses Shaker Brook here.
Shaker Brook's cold waters flowing peacefully through the forest.
The North Family Trail leaves the banks of the brook and becomes the Shaker Mountain Trail as it starts its ascent.
A downed pine branch across the trail.
The trail crosses back and forth on the way up the mountain with several broken views back down to the valley.
There was a little more snow on the top of the mountain, with the beech leaves clinging on to the trees.
A view of Holy Mount(New Lebanon's Holy Ground) through the wintry woods.
After a hike of 1.7 miles, you come upon a clearing, which is where the Shakers worshipped.  This was known as their Holy Ground, where any non believers were not allowed.  This is also near the wooded summit of the mountain.
Today there are several small white fences to mark the location of the Holy Ground.

On the return descent down the mountain, the sun broke through the clouds to light the trails.
The former site of the North Family House.  Today it is just a small depression of land in the woods.
A cellar hole is all that remains of an industrial site utilized by the North Family.
Shaker Brook
The cascades on the Lower Dam.
Just past the Lower Dam is the site of the Upper Dam with the stone remains along the brook.
The waterfalls from the Upper Dam flowing down.
Looking downstream from the Upper Dam.
The North Family Trail closely parallels Shaker Brook.
The water is very pleasingly clear.
Broken views south towards Lenox Mountain.
Views from Shaker Reservoir of Shaker Mountain, where I had just hiked.
A cold celebration to the New Year, with a total hike of about 3.5 miles.  Saw several other hikers out on the trail on this splendid winter day.

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