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Tuesday, January 19, 2016

Turner Trail-Pittsfield State Forest(Berkshires)

Although wind chill temps were in the dangerous levels below zero, I couldn't pass up a chance to do some hiking on a day off. Opted to stay somewhat local and hike the Pittsfield State Forest again, where I had just hiked a few days ago.  Today, I wanted to hike up the Turner Trail, which ascends directly up the steep slopes of Berry Hill and is flanked to the north and south by the Berry Pond Circuit Road.  Finding the trail head can be a bit challenging, but is found on Cross Road near campsite 38, and is marked in blue.
 The trail climbs at a consistent clip, but never overly steep.  As I continued gaining elevation, the Berry Mountain Tower soon came into view through the trees to the south.
 As I passed 2000 feet in elevation, a nice view of 2313 foot Honwee Mountain unfolded to the north.
 Just past the view of Honwee Mountain is an unmarked spur path to the right that leads a few yards to a nice vista to the east over Pontoosuc Lake.
 Much of Pontoosuc Lake is visible just beyond the lower flanks of Honwee Mountain.
 Continuing past the view point, the trail levels out and bends slightly to the southwest, soon arriving at Berry Pond's frozen shoreline.  Berry Pond is significant because it is reputed to be the highest elevation natural body of water in the state.
Continuing past Berry Pond, the blue blazes soon lead to the auto Berry Pond Circuit Road(which is closed for the winter).
 I continued past the road and soon arrived at a great vista to the west over Goodrich Hollow and into New York.
 Retraced my steps back to the circuit road and followed it south to an even better vantage point.  Unfortunately this area was completely open, leaving me fully exposed to the 50+ mph winds, which were painful to the skin.
 Amazing views to the south and west into New York state.
A more direct westerly view into New York.
 Looking directly out over Goodrich Hollow and into New York, near the Columbia County/ Rensselaer County line.
 It was hard to enjoy the great views on Berry Hill because of the dangerous wind chills on the exposed slopes, so I quickly along to the west shore of Berry Pond.
 Opposite Berry Pond is Berry Pond Creek, which drops very steeply west into Goodrich Hollow.
 I continued along the circuit road until turning north onto the Taconic Skyline Trail, which soon lead me to the Berry Mountain tower road.
 There are no views available on the wooded summit of 2203 foot Berry Mountain, just a large microwave tower, which can easily be seen spotted from much of Pittsfield and Lanesborough.
I bushwhacked a short distance off Berry Mountain back down to the Turner Trail, and dropped steeply all the way back down to Cross Road.  I then followed the auto road back to the car at the Lulu Pond parking area, where I enjoyed a nice look at nearly frozen Lulu Brook.  
 Explored much of the State Forest, completing just over 5 miles RT on a bitterly cold day.
Later in the day(back in the warmth of my car), I was lucky enough to capture this sunset over the frozen landscape, just beyond Tannery Pond at the Mount Lebanon Shaker Village. 

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