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Mahanna Cobble

Birding in Massachusetts

Mahanna Cobble
Berkshire Natural Resources Council
Pittsfield, Massachusetts 01201
Mahanna Cobble webpage
Mahanna Cobble map

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Berkshire County

Mahanna Cobble (BNRC)
Coordinates: 42.4191559, -73.2761693
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About Mahanna Cobble
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.

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.

Mahanna Cobble is a terrific counterpart to the other dramatic hikes of the Berkshires. Located in the center of the county, this 222-acre reserve is close to town, has tremendous views, and is 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 at Yokun Ridge South 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 an 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 parties involved hired lawyers. In 2010 the courts affirmed BNRC’s right to purchase the land and ordered the developer to pay BNRC’s legal fees.

The Mahanna Cobble Trail construction team brought together BNRC volunteers, trail and stewardship staff and interns, Greenagers teen crews, as well as professional trail builders, OBP Trailworks, LLC. This route is built to sustainable trail standards, to provide a special experience for generations, and to reduce the impact on the surrounding environment.

Today’s partnership with Bousquet and Mill Town ushers in a new moment in the Mahanna Cobble history. Access from the ski area secures a route to the reserve and the newly completed trail. Starting in 2021, Bousquet will host the northern trailhead for BNRC’s The High Road route from Pittsfield to Lenox and beyond, along Yokun Ridge. The High Road will connect trails and conservation to towns throughout the Berkshires. More details will be shared as plans are finalized.

“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.

The bedrock on Mahanna Cobble is a type of schist. Schist is a metamorphic rock that has medium-to-large, flat, sheet-like grains. It is defined by having more than 50% plate-like and elongated minerals. The individual mineral grains in schist, drawn out into flaky scales by heat and pressure, can be seen with the naked eye. Schist is characteristically foliated, meaning that the individual mineral grains split off easily into flakes or slabs.

The first section of the trail follows a 0.6-mile route on the Bousquet property. Hikers start at the top of Tube Town and look across the slope for a hiker sign. Cross the ski slope at the narrowest location. You will ascend the Russel ski trail, which is ACTIVE in winter; hug the edge of the tree line on the left side while heading upslope. Follow posts with blue blazes along the way, soon they will lead you to a trail through the woods toward the Drifter ski trail. Continue to follow blue blazes and then cross Drifter, another ACTIVE ski trail in winter. Proceed with caution at all ski trail crossings, and follow blue blazes to the woodland start of the trail and informational kiosk.

From there, the Mahanna Cobble single-track trail is 1 mile with switchback turns and stone steps. There is a spectacular view and a stone bench at the vista. The bench is dedicated to founding BNRC Executive Director, George Wislocki. Enjoy the grassy ledges at the vista with uninterrupted views south over Kennedy Park and Yokun Ridge. Your approach back down the slope allows bird’s eye views of Pittsfield and the North Berkshires.

Please stay on BNRC or Bousquet property. Dogs are welcome on BNRC property, and when it’s not ski season, on Bousquet and always under your immediate control. 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.
From Mahanna Cobble webpage