Berkshires Beat: BNRC Opens New Mahanna Cobble Trail
Mahanna Cobble access
Berkshire Natural Resources Council and Mill Town have teamed up to create improved public access to Mahanna Cobble, a conservation reserve owned and operated by BNRC. Mahanna Cobble is free and open to the public, and rests atop the south-facing side of Bousquet Mountain in Pittsfield.
Mill Town, which recently purchased the Bousquet ski resort, is focused on expanding outdoor recreation opportunities at Bousquet and around the Berkshires, including hiking activities. Together, BNRC and Mill Town have placed temporary signage at Bousquet to highlight an access route for hikers from the mountain's base lodge and parking area, up a ski hill, to BNRC's new Mahanna Cobble trail. "We are thrilled to have a strong partner in Mill Town as we open a gem of a trail, leading to a beautiful Berkshire vista. Partnerships like this are key to our success in conserving land around the Berkshires for wildlife and recreation," said Jenny Hansell, president of BNRC. "The new Mahanna Cobble Trail embodies the core elements of BNRC’s work – our rich conservation history, efforts to open special places to all, and engaging in sustainable trail building for hikers now and long into the future."
This brand-new route to Mahanna Cobble, funded by BNRC donors, was completed at the close of the 2019 trail construction season under the direction of Tyler Fogg, BNRC's trails coordinator. Many BNRC volunteers and staff assisted in the design of this sustainably-built trail, with some portions constructed by OBP Trailworks LLC. Hikers will experience approximately 600 feet of elevation gain, made manageable through a series of climbing turns and hand-set stone steps.
Visitors should park to the far left of the lodge, and follow hiker signage to the "Drifter" beginner-level ski trail. Signage will indicate where to turn off Drifter, to access the Mahanna Cobble trail. The Cobble trail has clear directional signage to a vista atop the North Yokun Ridge. There, visitors will find a stone bench, dedicated to BNRC's founding executive director George Wislocki, which provides a place to rest and enjoy the long view of uninterrupted forest to the south.
Distance from the lodge to the start of the trailhead is 0.4 miles; the Mahanna Cobble trail itself is a 1-mile single-track hiking path with gradual elevation gain, and requires walking on stone steps. The entire out-and-back hike is 2.8 miles. The access route from the parking area to Drifter may be modified periodically over the summer and autumn in light of lodge renovation and base area improvements. Follow signage and check the Mahanna Cobble webpage for updates before heading out.
BRTA Bus Schedule Changes
The Berkshire Regional Transit Authority continues to implement modifications to transit services in response to customer feedback. Copies of the new printed bus schedules will be available in the Intermodal Transportation Center (ITC), on the BRTA buses, or online at www.berkshireRTA.com. Look for the "Effective June 29, 2020" date at the top of the schedules for the latest version.
Effective Monday, June 29:
• Route 1, Pittsfield-North Adams: Weekday evening departures from ITC have been changed to 6:30 and 8:30 p.m. Weekday evening departures from Walmart North Adams have been changed to 7:30, 9:50 and 10:30 p.m.
• Route 2, Pittsfield-Lee via Lenox: Service has been added to Big Y Lee in both the outbound and inbound directions. Departures from Lee Premium Outlets have been changed to 30 minutes past the hour on both weekdays and Saturdays. Arrival times at the ITC have been changed to 20 minutes past the hour on weekdays and Saturdays. This change will allow customers to transfer at the ITC with other buses.
• Route 3, Williamstown-North Adams: Departure from Main Street North Adams has been amended to 12 minutes past the hour.
• Route 21, Lee-Great Barrington: Departures from Lee Premium Outlets have been changed to 30 minutes past the hour for both weekdays and Saturdays.
• Route 21X, Pittsfield-Great Barrington Express: Service has been added to Barrington Plaza Price Chopper in both the Lee and Great Barrington directions.
• Route 34, North Adams Loop: Transfer is now available with the Route 3 on Main Street North Adams at 12 minutes past the hour. Weekday evening service has been expanded between 7:30 and 10:30 p.m. Route 34 will connect with Route 1 at Walmart North Adams at 7:30 and 9:50 p.m. During the pilot period, Route 34 will service Brayton Hill and Greylock Apartments between 8:15 and 9:30 p.m.
Routes 12 and 14 both have bus stop name changes.
The following routes will not run until the fall: Route 35, Pittsfield to Williamstown; Route 21%, Pittsfield express service to Great Barrington; and Route 22 Great Barrington Circulator Loop.
Virtual trail race
Pleasant Valley Wildlife Sanctuary will host its fifth annual Wild Thing Trail Race between June 24-28. The 5k and 10k courses will still be set up in Kennedy Park as in past years. Competitors can run, walk, or hike the course on their own schedule. The race follows carriage roads and single track with a variety of elevation in both the 10k and 5k distances. Please note that there is a new 10k course this year. For those not able to get to Lenox, there is the Anywhere Wild Thing. Participants can run, walk, or hike in their own neighborhood or favorite local natural area.
To be part of the event, competitors track their run, walk or hike using their favorite app. After completing the activity, post a screen shot of the time and distance to the Virtual Wild Thing Facebook event page here or email it here. Participants are encouraged to also share a photo of themselves before, during or after their activity. Those using the Pleasant Valley/Kennedy Park route are encouraged to take a photo in front of the start/finish line. To be eligible to win prizes, both locally and "anywhere," participants must register for the event online here.
Prizes will be awarded for the fastest male and female for the 5k and 10k routes in Kennedy Park, as well as for a number of fun and creative categories for both the local and "anywhere" race. There is a suggested $10 donation to register for the event.
Tyler Street Lab to reopen
The Tyler Street Lab, an outgrowth of a 2019 neighborhood pop-up initiative which was based at 730 Tyler St. in PIttsfield, has been reimagined and is poised to take up residency at a new location, 741 Tyler St., beginning this fall. Mayor Linda Tyer said the Lab's resurgence is a much welcome addition to the city especially as more aspects of community life continue to reopen.
The city will serve as the fiscal agent for the Lab, which will also be a conduit for other community programs and organizations. Thanks to a $20,000 grant from Berkshire Bank Foundation, a $15,000 earmark secured by Rep. Tricia Farley-Bouvier, and carry over funding from last year's pop-up initiative, the Lab will enter into a two-year lease agreement with Mill Town Capital, a private investment group that provides a platform for community revitalization, said Community Development Director Deanna Ruffer.
The lease will begin July 1 with the Lab temporarily re-occupying 730 Tyler St. while Mill Town renovates 741 Tyler St. The Lab will move into its new space once renovations are completed. At this time, two collaborators have committed to being a part of the Lab, and are working in conjunction with the city, to jointly manage the Lab for the next two years. These include The Chill Zone and The Gaming Lounge.
The Chill Zone, launched by Shirley Edgerton and New Global Ministries’ Pastor Akilah Edgerton and Jerome Edgerton Jr., serves youths 8 to 18 years old. The program provides an array of activities including homework help, computer play, field trips to cultural sites throughout the Berkshires and hosts conversations to address social concerns and personal development.
The Gaming Lounge, launched by Stephanie Strout Hockett, provides a gaming club for players who are on the autism spectrum, suffer from social anxiety, and cognitive disabilities and any others interested in gaming. Since its inception, the Lounge has attracted well-known gamers including Greg Juby, a developer from Microsoft, and two of the top 10 players in the world at the game “Super Smash Brother.”