On Sunday, Berkshire Natural Resource Council will hold a grand opening for its new trail – as well as rolling out new accessibility materials at its properties across the county. A guided hike, games and more are planned for the unveiling of Whale Rock Trail, on the grounds of the Thomas & Palmer Brook Conservation Reserve in Great Barrington, Massachusetts. The new ‘Berkshire County Trails for All’ and ‘Everybody Can Hike’, bilingual accessibility and safety guides for BNRC holdings, will also be released at the event. WAMC spoke with Community Conservation Manager Mariah Fogg.

FOGG: The Whale Rock Trail is within the Thomas & Palmer Brook Preserve located in Great Barrington, directly across from the Koi Restaurant on Route 23. The trail itself is approximately one mile of newly constructed trail to Whale Rock, which is a very unique rocky feature, and the entire trail is about 2.5 miles round trip from the trailhead.

WAMC: Now, for those unfamiliar with this part of Berkshire County, tell us a bit about the surrounding area. It is, of course, in Great Barrington – what should people from outside the immediate area know about this plot of land in the Berkshires?

Thomas and Palmer is very unique. It is 267 acres of land which rises from a stream through a former pasture. There is a wetland and mature forest, and the existing prairie loop has an accessible trail that really gives you a view of a very large wetland. And then the new trail, the Whale Rock Trail, takes you through the woods to this high point of exposed bedrock. So you kind of get all the special features that we have here of lowland valley, some wetlands, a bit of a stream, then climbing up to a nice, not quite a view , but really cool- A feature, I guess, a point to turn around and enjoy the bedrock.

So why this new course? What about that area of ​​the Berkshires that made him stand out for a new BNRC investment?

This trail was a priority on the Thomas & Palmer Brook Preserve when BNRC really took a step forward by establishing a trail system there. This trail was very special as it was supported by Greenagers, the Student Conservation Association and also volunteers. We had had a sort of informal forest trail that could get you closer to Whale Rock for a long time, and while there wasn’t exactly signage inviting people there, people were walking and really looking for expanded opportunities at Thomas & Palmer. So that was a main feature of expanding access to this particular reserve, and I think people are really appreciating that so far.

This weekend, BNRC is also rolling out two new print and digital resources: “Berkshire County Trails For All” and “Everybody Can Hike”. Explain this to us – What are these new resources? What do they offer people in the county?

I’ll start with “Berkshire County Trails for All”. This is a new guide to accessible trails that has been developed by the BNRC, in partnership with Berkshire Family Hikes, Mass DCR, Unpaved Trails For All, the Great Barrington Land Conservancy, Laurel Hill Association, Berkshire Language Management and Mass Audubon. This came about because we really heard the need to better understand where the trails are built for barrier-free access for wheelchairs, strollers and mobility aids and to really share the details of the experience so that people can make that decision for themselves, is that a good choice for me?

And now on to “Anyone can hike”. What’s the story there?

“Everybody Can Hike” is a very user-friendly new resource to really help bridge the gap for those who are new to the area and better understand what to bring, what to expect and how to stay safe on the trails . This guide came about after conversations with a working group of partners, including Latinas413, Berkshire Immigrant Center, and Berkshire Language Management, all of whom graciously provided guidance, support, and constructive feedback as we refined and implement these efforts. And we continue to look to this working group for that level of guidance.