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Tuesday, December 15, 2015

Berlin Mountain via Class of '33 Trail(Taconics)

Headed just over the New York state line into Williamstown, Massachusetts to hike 2818 foot Berlin Mountain today.  I've hiked Berlin Mountain several times before but never via the Class of '33 Trail. To find the trail, I drove up and over Route 2 into Massachusetts and on the steep descent I took a sharp right onto Torrey Woods Road. When Oblong Road comes in on the left, continue straight and Torrey Woods Rd becomes Berlin Road as it begins to ascend steadily.  About a quarter mile past the last house you will see trail signs.  Parking is about 100 yards further up the road in a designated lot on the left.  Once you have parked, walk back down the road to the trail entrance.
A short distance into the hike there is a brook crossing.  Even after a night of heavy rains, Haley Brook is easily crossed here.
Crystal clear waters of Haley Brook.
The trail soon begins to climb steadily on a wide, easy to follow trail marked in blue blazes.
A small mountain stream is crossed in a very steep ravine.
This section of trail is easy climbing on a gentle grade, with the sounds of the small stream rushing below.
Soon, there is a split in the trail. Take the left here and begin a steep climb.
As the steady ascent continues, there are broken views through the trees that open up to the east.
The trail gets even steeper for a bit, where my GPS marked it as a 33% grade.
East views over the valley.
After about 1.9 miles of steep climbing, the trail emerges in a bit of a clearing.  To the right is the trail that leads to the abandoned Williams College Ski Area. Straight ahead and just uphill is Berlin Mountain's summit.
Nearing the summit, I noticed this strange fungi growing all over this tree.
After 2 miles, I arrived at Berlin Mountain's uniquely open 2818 foot summit.  There are nice views east towards the Greylock Range from here.
Brodie Mountain's wind farm to the southeast.
A front was pushing through as I was on the summit, meaning very strong winds and thickening storm clouds moving in.
I opted to take the Taconic Crest Trail north off the summit because it offered the least steepest descent.
The Taconic Crest Trail is actually more of a wide rutted 4 wheel drive road.
A gradual loss of elevation on the mellow trail.
Arriving at Berlin Pass, a large saddle between Berlin Mountain to the south and Mount Raimer to the north.  Thick clouds and light rain began to pick up as I lost the cover of the forest. 
After 1.2 miles on the Taconic Crest Trail, I arrived at a trail intersection  From here I took a right onto the Berlin Pass Trail.
The steep descent off the Berlin Pass Trail, which was an old road back in the 19th century.
A large puddle, created by off road vehicles marks the end of the Berlin Pass Trail.
Emerging from the trail into a large parking area, which is actually the very end of Berlin Road.  This was the old parking lot for the Williams College Ski Area.
Looking directly up the very steep abandoned Williams College ski slopes.
Took the blue marked WRLF trail back towards the car.  It heads east, well above Haley Brook flowing below.  At the first trail junction, I took a left towards the brook.  After crossing the brook, the trail meanders through hardwoods before arriving at a small wooden viewing platform.  From this spot, there are great views of a beautiful waterfall on Haley Brook.  After enjoying these views, the trail heads back up through the woods and soon arrives back at the parking area.
Hiked 4.7 miles RT.  Although under 3000 feet, the ascent of this trail was quite challenging.  A little known fact about Berlin Mountain is that it is the highest summit in New York State outside the Catksills and Adirondacks.

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