Conserved only by the toughest of fights in court, this summit at the north end of Lenox Mountain is not only beautiful, but the most appropriate place possible to acknowledge the enduring gifts of Berkshire Natural Resource’s founder, George Wislocki.
Visit his stone bench and ponder your place in the world, and its place in you.
Property Name: Mahanna Cobble
Towns: Lenox, Pittsfield
Activities: Hiking, photography
Special features: Gorgeous views from George’s bench
Hiking difficulty: Intermediate — good trail; steep trail
GPS: 42.4195, -73.2766 (trailhead parking)
Mahanna Cobble is not quite as dramatic as Monument Mountain in South County, but it’s a terrific Central Berkshire counterpart. Close to town, accessed by short and steep trails, tremendous views and a great picnic spot – it has it all.
The Cobble itself is the northern summit of Lenox Mountain, the long and picturesque ridge that extends north from Olivia’s Overlook to the Bousquet Ski Area in Pittsfield.
Lenox Mountain has long been a focus for conservation. BNRC’s Burbank Trail anchors the southern end. The Town of Lenox’s watershed and Kennedy Park comprise the midsection. Mass Audubon’s Pleasant Valley Sanctuary and BNRC’s Mahanna Cobble conserve the northern end.
Mahanna Cobble did not have an easy birthing. On its way to being sold to BNRC in 2007 by Bousquet Ski Area owner the late George W. Jervas, a would-be developer entered the picture. The developer claimed that it had reached agreement to buy the ski area, including the Mahanna Cobble tract under contract to BNRC. The news later emerged that the developer hoped to build a hotel, restaurant and condos on the summit of the mountain. All sides lawyered up. In 2010 the courts affirmed BNRC’s right to purchase the land and ordered the developer to pay BNRC’s legal fees.
“Cobbles” are a particular Berkshire name for a classic geologic formation of exposed bedrock existing high on a ridge. Others in the Berkshires can be found at Tyringham Cobble, Cheshire Cobble, Pine Cobble, and Bartholomew’s Cobble. They are evidence of tectonic movement that shifted ancient strata.
There is a central loop trail on the property, made up of the steep Vista and Secret Trails and the undulating Yokun Ridge Trail along the ridgeline. The “don’t-miss” highlight is a massive stone bench at the head of a grassy clearing dedicated to George Wislocki, BNRC’s founder. The long views south to Monument Mountain are free of roads and buildings. It’s one of the finest resting spots anywhere in the Berkshires.
There are two ways to access Mahanna Cobble. Parking at Bousquet’s and walking up the ski trails is the best option when the ski area is not operating. You can walk up Drifter and then hook onto the wood road that departs on the left. If you want to get your climbing done early in the walk, ascend to the top of the highest chairlift and then follow your nose past the radio tower onto the Yokun Ridge Trail. Before entering the woods, turn around and take in spectacular views north over the City of Pittsfield to Mount Greylock.
Another option is to turn off West Mountain Rd. in Lenox at #144. There’s room for a couple of cars to park at the end of the lane, but there’s no guarantee this turnout will be plowed in winter. Be aware that you are parking on someone’s driveway and park fully off the traveled roadway, without blocking the gate. (Did we mention that only two cars will fit here?)
All the trails on Mahanna Cobble itself are signed and marked. Please stay on BNRC or Bousquet property. No access to Pleasant Valley is offered from here. If you decide to head that way anyway, be aware that as a wildlife sanctuary Mass Audubon does not allow dogs, bikes, or hunting.
Three season parking is available at the Bousquet ski area parking lot. No access is available from here in the winter!!! Follow the ski trails up the mountain, sticking to the left-most ski trails as you ascend. Look for the hiking trail on the left side of the ski trail about 4/10 mile from the parking area.