Dispatch: October Mountain

At 16,500 acres October Mountain State Forest is the largest state forest in Massachusetts. Just east of Lenox it’s in the heart of the Berkshires, and one of Massachusetts’ great parks. 

The Ball and Buck team recently closed the shop and headed west on 90 to take a few days in October Mountain away from computers and close to fires. The story goes that October Mountain was named by Herman Melville’s who had a house overlooking the mountain. The park is home to miles of trails and the Appalachian Trail cuts across it as well.

One of the draws of October Mountain is Schermerhorn Gorge, which has falls some 30 feet tall. All around the forest though, there are plenty of streams and mini gorges that make for excellent exploring. When the park was established in 1915, “Approximately 1,000 acres of this land was used...as a game preserve, supporting buffalo, elk, black tailed and Virginia deer, moose, and a aviary of pheasants, grouse, quail, Belgian hare, and angora sheep. “

Now it’s mostly deer and black bears that make for the best wildlife spotting.

Packed with dense conifers and hiking trails, there is still some hunting allowed in the park. Check with the Mass.gov but in general the guidelines are pretty straightforward Archery is permitted Mid-October through the first Saturday after Thanksgiving. Shotguns are permitted the first Monday after Thanksgiving through the third Saturday in December, and muzzle loaders from the Third Monday in December through December 31.

The Berkshires and October Mountain are also home to some fantastic fishing. If you’re looking for lessons and guides, check with Berkshire Rivers Fly Fishing

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