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Monday, January 6, 2014

Yokun Ridge South(West Stockbridge Mountain)

After a rainy, warm morning a strong cold front blew through the area early this afternoon, leaving a light blanket of snow everywhere.  Went east after work to Yokun Ridge near the Richmond-Lenox-West Stockbridge town lines.  The Berkshire Natural Resources Council(BNRC) is a non-profit  land conservation organization that protects many different properties throughout the Berkshires, encompassing 14,500 acres in all.  Yokun Ridge, coupled with Olivia's Overlook, which is the main parking area for trails north and south, are both BNRC properties with rich histories.  From pastures in the lower reaches to forests cleared for charcoal to feed Richmond Furnace, the land has seen a variety of uses over the years.
Olivia's Overlook is a scenic treasure of Berkshire County.  It provides wonderful views east over Stockbridge Bowl, which is frozen over this time of year.
Stockbridge Bowl, otherwise known as Lake Mahkeenac, is a 372 artificially impounded body of water with Rattlesnake Hill, a small peak, hovering over the lake just to the right.
A look back to the parking lot on the hillside with views down to the lake.
 Yokun Ridge North's trails are accessed directly across Lenox Road from the parking area.  For hiking Yokun Ridge South, which I was doing today, a trail breaks off into a field from the parking lot and crosses a footbridge before entering the woods. 
 A wooden kiosk greets you as you enter the woods, with trail maps available.  The first trail junction is here.
A soft white powder coated the trees in pure white.
Along the Ridge Trail, there are many sharp drop offs so one must pay careful attention to their footing, especially in wet or icy conditions.
The Ridge Trail hugs the west ridge of northern section of West Stockbridge Mountain, and provides excellent views west across West Stockbridge and into New York.
Frigid winds blew directly across the ridge line, making it uncomfortable but yet so beautiful.          
Far reaching views west over the wintry landscape.
A beautiful residence along Route 41 in the town of Richmond.
Back in the woods the snow clung to the trees, painting a breathtaking picture.
To the east there were broken views through the trees.
A white blanket of snow in large clearing along West Stockbridge Mountain's ridgeline
Rural countryside.
Further south along the Ridge Trail is another lovely vista northwesterly, down through the pine trees.
After about a mile, I turned around and started heading back, being mindful of the steeper sections along the way.
The best eastern views to be had are from this clearing near the Walsh Trail/ Ridge Trail junction.  The ski slopes in the far distance are from Butternut Ski Area near the Great Barrington/ Monterey town line.
Once again, the gorgeous pure white woods made for peaceful walking on my return to the car.
The BNRC manages 252 acres on the southern Yokun Ridge, and provides fantastic hiking opportunities for minimal effort.  It is an often overlooked gem in the southern Berkshires and look forward to returning again.

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