Where We Went : Old Mill Trail, Hinsdale MA
When We Went : July 2019
Difficulty (Boots 1 - 10) : 1 Boot
Trail Length : 1.5 miles, up and back (about 1 hour) First 0.7 miles is Accessible Trail, the remainder crosses Route 8 and follows the Housatonic River downstream. We only hiked the Accessible Trail.
How Long it Took Us : 1 ½ hours (30 minutes spent crying)
Overview : This newly opened trail was tailor-made for anyone looking to cut their hiking teeth or has an interest in history. Nature and 19th century textile mills collide in an easily accessible trail at the edge of the Housatonic River. The Housatonic Valley Association installed an interpretive trail that highlights both the natural and mill history of the area. Currently in the capable hands of Berkshire Natural Resources Council, this proves you don't need to travel too far to immerse yourself in the beauty of nature.
What We Dug : Be sure to grab an interpretive guide and map at the trailhead (or plan ahead and download the app), so you can follow along with the numbered posts along the trail. We used these posts as "Power Up" stations on the return trip. Tag one and energy boost activated! Included in the tour is the remnants of a 1938 Oldsmobile slowly becoming part of the natural landscape. We had fun learning what a "penstock" is (technical term for a pipe that delivers water to a mill), and walking in the trench that housed such a huge piece of equipment. We tried to imagine we were part of the Housatonic rushing down the "pipe" while we made our way down the trench. It was really fascinating to follow along and learn about the history of the areas mill industry. We were also able to get close to the water for a bit and used the bridges as an opportunity to play Poohsticks. Incredibly accessible, full of interesting stops and opportunities to play and explore. A terrific hike for all levels.
What We Could Do Without : Woof. We had the mother of all meltdowns here. Not sure what it was but we barely got 10 feet into the woods and both kids were crying. Even when you know it's inevitable, it's still frustrating. We eventually calmed down, regrouped and had a fantastic hike. But I'll tell ya, it was touch and go for a bit back there.
Keep Your Eyes Peeled For : cottonwood, ash, willow, silver maple, hemlock, Asian honeysuckle, gray-stemmed dogwood, hobble bush, Japanese barberry, common buckthorn, song sparrow, hawk, vole, muskrat, barred owl, red squirrel, chickadees, egret, pileated woodpecker, brown creeper
Must Know Before You Go’s : Free. No onsite facilities. Partridgefields General Store is across the street and is a wonderful place for lunch or ice cream (if your kids behaved better than mine).
Directions : From the center of Dalton: take Route 8 south to the Hinsdale line. From the town line, continue 4/10 miles to a left on Old Dalton Road. The trailhead parking is the first, immediate left. GPS: 42.4480, -73.1305
Resources : Download their app by searching “BNRC trails”