Off Rte. 7-A; Bartholomew’s Cobble: Weatogue Rd., Massachusetts
Ashley House: Cooper Hill Rd.
This site is best known for the remarkable diversity of its ferns, wildflowers, trees, and shrubs and the many species of birds they attract. One need not be a naturalist to appreciate the topography here, with its steep cliffs and spines of marble and quartzite.
Cobble is the New Englander’s word for rocky outcrops that rise steeply, like islands of stone, from adjacent bottomlands. This one, named for George Bartholomew, who farmed the surrounding fields in the 1800s, is a natural rock garden of grand proportions.
At the small museum of natural history, you can learn more about almost everything you will see here. Walking the self-guiding Ledges Trail takes 40 minutes and provides a delightful experience of small-scale craggy grandeur. Another trail leads down to the Housatonic River and a classic oxbow lake.
At the nearby Ashley House, built in 1735, learn how members of the household, both free and enslaved, fought for freedom in 18th-century Massachusetts. Col. John Ashley was a member of the committee that in 1773 drafted resolutions against British tyranny. In 1781 an enslaved member of the household, Elizabeth Freeman, also known as Mum Bett, successfully sued for her freedom, basing her case on the new Massachusetts constitution. Her case was instrumental in ending slavery in the state. The Ashley House is an anchor site on the Upper Housatonic Valley African American Heritage Trail.
Cobble open year-round. Natural history museum closed Sun. and Mon. Dec.–Mar. Ashley House open weekends Memorial Day–Columbus Day. Admission charged.
Did you know?
The Ashley House is believed to be the oldest standing house in Berkshire County. Col. Ashley acquired over 3,000 acres.