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Alford Springs

Birding in Massachusetts

Alford Springs
Berkshire Natural Resources Council

Old Village Road
Great Barrington, Massachusetts 01230
Alford Springs webpage
Alford Springs guide and map

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Berkshire County

Alford Springs (BNRC)
Coordinates: 42.2482, -73.4458
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About Alford Springs
Alford Springs, 899 acres of a mostly forested ridgeline, has more than seven miles of trails for hikers, snowshoers, seasoned cross-country skiers, mountain bikers, hunters, and berry-pickers. The reserve, named for feeder streams of Alford Brook and the Green River, offers vistas of Greylock and Tom Ball mountains and Alford Valley.

This land, and all of the present-day Berkshires, are the ancestral homeland of the Mohican people who were forcefully displaced to Wisconsin by European colonization. These lands continue to be of great significance to the Stockbridge-Munsee Mohican Nation today.

Did you ever wonder what lies in that shadowy mountainous border region between the Berkshires and New York State? Not many roads traverse this frontier, and the steep, heavily forested slopes don’t immediately attract the casual visitor. But you might be surprised if you venture that way by the user-friendly trails on the 899-acre BNRC property known as Alford Springs.

The Alford Springs reserve lies on the eastern side of the Taconic Mountains, a chain that runs north-south along the Massachusetts-New York border. The Taconics were created 440 million years ago by a tectonic collision of the North American plate with a volcanic island chain. The local valley regions on either side of the mountain ridge are underlain with limestone. Quarrying of marble was a significant industry in Alford in the 1800s. Alford marble, prized for its color, was used in building the New York City Hall.

This land has been more hospitable to wildlife than human beings. There are cellar holes, remains of barns or outbuildings, and stone walls on the property mostly abandoned in the 19th century. These structures represent the past agricultural history of the area. “Sheep fever” took hold of New England between 1810 and 1840 and resulted in 8o% of forests being cleared for pasture or hayfield. 1837 was the peak year of sheep in Berkshire County with 136,000 sheep and 40,000 people. By 1900, more than half of the cleared land was becoming reforested.

In the 1970’s Old Village Road was developed, and much of the current reserve was surveyed to become phase two of the subdivision. Luckily, the market slowed and BNRC, in partnership with MassWildlife, was able to acquire the land for conservation. From 2002 to 2018, BNRC has acquired parcels, piecing together the current reserve.
From Alford Springs webpage