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Created by geologic upheavals when the Taconic and Berkshire ranges were formed, this hundred-foot-high bedrock outcropping introduces visitors to a rugged and exotic landscape that also supports 800 species of plants while offering terrific mountain vistas.
What makes Bartholomew’s Cobble a special place?
We think it’s the twin rocky knolls that give this rare, geologic phenomenon its intriguing name. Probably taken from a German word, kobel (meaning “rocks”), the Cobble began as coral reefs, shells, and sand as many as 500 million years ago when this area was an inland sea. When the Taconic and Berkshire mountains were formed, the still-forming strata were pushed upward and flipped over, leaving the rough and rugged underbelly exposed for millennia. The reservation’s more recent farming history lives on through herd of cattle grazing along the river.
The cobbles consist mostly of quartzite and marble, whose alkaline soil supports an unusual array of flora – you’ll find one of North America’s greatest diversities of fern species here. The reservation also boasts one of the largest Cottonwood trees in the state. It’s this amazing diversity that led to the Cobble’s designation as a National Natural Landmark in 1971.
The high point at Bartholomew’s Cobble, Hurlburt’s Hill, rises 1,000 feet to a 20-acre upland field on the Massachusetts–Connecticut border that offers panoramic views northward up the Housatonic River Valley.
You can tour the cobbles, trees and understory plants, and river, on the Ledges Trail, which also passes two small caves kids love to explore. You can also trek through open fields, transitional forest, and freshwater marshes with beaver ponds along the Cobble's other trails. Don't forget to stop in to the natural history museum and visitor center either before or after your visit. And, to mix your natural history with some cultural history, follow the trail that leads to the nearby historic Ashley House, from where enslaved African American Mum Bett Freeman sued for her freedom, helping to end slavery in Massachusetts.
Five miles of trails, moderate hiking. Some may find the hike to the Hurlburt's Hill summit strenuous.
When to Visit
Bartholomew's Cobble is open for hiking year-round, while the visitor’s center and facilities are open seasonally. Allow a minimum of 2 hours, 3 hours if also visiting the Ashley House. Spring wildflowers show best mid-April through May. Spring bird migration at peak in May. Ferns best in June. Hawk migration from mid-September through October.
Visitors’ Center and facilities are open seasonally. Hours vary, please call 413.298.8600 for current hours. Picnic tables are available for use outside the visitors' center.