"In the woods is perpetual youth" - Emerson

GUIDED HIKES: 1-2 north of NYC, 2-3 hours west of Boston (click here)

Ice Glenn Trails - Great Barrington, MA

Hiking Tours



  Suggest a hike

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Difficulty: Easy

Main Attractions: Fire Tower, icy Vaults, great views, river walk

10 day forecast

Nearby Hikes:
Alford Springs Flag Rock Monument Mountain

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Icy Glen Trail System.

Each trail is unique and captivating. The Mary Flynn trail follows the historic Housatonic River, Laura’s Tower exhibits breathtaking views of rolling hills and small towns, and Ice Glen cradles old growth within its rocky bosom.

The trail system is owned and managed by the oldest town beautification society in the United States, the Laurel Hill Association. Located in downtown Stockbridge, MA at the dead end of Park Street—the major trailhead starts at a stone laden bridge in sight of the parking lot.

The trail is a relatively new addition to the property, built and conserved by the Great Barrington Land Trust, it acts as a throughway for neighborhoods and a shady woodland loop for lakeside sunbathers. It’s a short walk through pine and hardwood that isn’t anything to brag about nevertheless a fine nicety. It’s one of the largest open space parcels proximal to Great Barrington and best when taken with a quick dip and a hot dog. This leisurely wide trail is for all ages and all hiking levels, impossible to get lost in but very possible to lose oneself in.

The Mary Flynn Trail
Immediately after crossing the bridge veer left and take a moment to read the map and informative signage. You’ll recognize from the topographic map that the trail is flat with a short loop at the end. At a glance you’ll also recognize the trail is wide and well maintained, perfect for an afternoon stroll, a run, or a bike ride. It wasn’t always a recreational trail though. At one time it was the Berkshire Street Railway Trolley Line, the first of its kind in the United States, built by Stockbridge in 1880.

With a total length of a mile it shouldn’t take long, shouldn’t make you sweat, shouldn’t even raise your heart rate, unless of course, you see a pterodactyl like apparition rise and soar, a thick waterlogged rodent smack its tall and dive, or dense flocks of small birds move about the air as if they were of a single mind. The Blue Heron, the American Beaver, the Red Winged Black Birds, are common sights along the meandering riverbanks of the Housatonic which makes this trail a good place to see some wildlife.

Laura’s Tower
After crossing the bridge cross the railroad tracks and start up the boulder strewn hillside. A quarter mile into the old woods you’ll meet a fork. Laura’s Tower to the left, Ice Glen to the right. The tower climb involves a series of switchbacks that skirt the mountainside and rise 600 hundred feet in elevation. It’s a steady climb from the trailhead with a difficulty rating bordering between easy to moderate.

Moss covered boulders and near two hundred year old shade tolerant pines define the first hillside. As you climb higher notice the plant community transition to younger hardwoods like beech, birch, hop-hornbeam, pignut hickory, oak, and maple. It finishes in fine form with an accessible fire tower.

The tower’s ladder, however daunting, is worth the anxiety. Standing atop the structure much of Southern Berkshire County pans out before your eyes. The towns of Stockbridge, Lenox, and Lee, and the remarkable landmasses of Monument Mountain, West Stockbridge Mountain, Harvey Mountain, and on especially clear days, the tallest peak in Massachusetts, Mount Greylock, are all visible. There’s also a mountain-teller you can refer to.

Ice Glen Halfway up the boulder strewn hillside the trail forks—Laura’s Tower to the left, Ice Glen to the right. Even in a county forged under the hammer of continental pressures this glen stands out as an oddity. Described by Nathanial Hawthorne as “the most curious fissure in the Berkshire” it begins by the mammoth moss covered boulder engraved with the name of the parcel’s benefactor, David Dudley Field, and from there it all happens rather quickly. The earth beneath your feet sinks, the hillsides encroach upon the trail, the naked boulders stack with beautiful asymmetry, the pines grow to unimaginable heights, and very soon you find yourself in dank cavernous place that’s fabled to harbor icy vaults year round. Long ago, the glen formed by a patient stream. Ever since the pines have benefited from this enclosure, finding sanctuary in its escape from inclement weather. Because of this the pines grow tall and go uncut and many consider Ice Glen as the most accessible old growth forest in the state. It is, for the time being, the home to the largest Eastern Hemlock in the state, towering some 132 feet tall, 10.2 feet in girth. It may even be the largest in New England. (Fact from nativetreesociety.org) Click here if you're interested in getting a guided hike in this region.

maryglen parking Directions: Take RT-7 to Stockbridge. Turn onto Park Street. Drive to the end of the dead-end street and park. The stone laden bridge will be in sight.

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