Great Barrington Housatonic River Walk In Massachusetts

Here is everything you need to know about the Great Barrington Housatonic River Walk:

  • Trail System: National Recreation Trail
  • State: Massachusetts
  • Length: 0.5 miles.
  • Type: Walking
  • Surface: paved
  • Managed By: Great Barrington Land Conservancy
  • Permit Required?: No
  • Website:

The Great Barrington Housatonic River Walk is a scenic trail located in Great Barrington, Massachusetts, that follows the banks of the Housatonic River. The history of this river walk dates back to the early 19th century when the Housatonic River played a vital role in the town’s development. The river served as a significant transportation route for the booming industries of the time, including paper mills, ironworks, and textile factories.

In the mid-1800s, the Housatonic Railroad was constructed along the river, further enhancing the area’s economic growth. The railroad facilitated the transportation of goods and people, connecting Great Barrington to other towns and cities in the region. As a result, the riverbanks became bustling hubs of industrial activity, with factories and warehouses lining the shores.

However, as the industrial era waned in the late 19th and early 20th centuries, many of these factories closed down, leaving behind abandoned buildings and polluted riverbanks. Recognizing the need to revitalize the area and preserve its natural beauty, local residents and organizations came together in the late 20th century to create the Great Barrington Housatonic River Walk.

The project aimed to reclaim the riverbanks, transforming them into a public space that celebrates the town’s history and provides a peaceful recreational area for residents and visitors alike. Over the years, the River Walk has undergone extensive restoration efforts, including the removal of industrial debris and the planting of native vegetation. Today, it stands as a testament to the town’s industrial past and a reminder of the importance of preserving natural resources for future generations.

While On The Trail

Access Points

1. W.E.B. Du Bois River Park: This is the main access point for the Great Barrington Housatonic River Walk. It is located at Church Street and River Street in Great Barrington.

2. River Street Trailhead: This access point is located at the intersection of River Street and Cottage Street in Great Barrington.

3. Bridge Street Trailhead: Located at the intersection of Bridge Street and River Street, this access point provides easy entry to the River Walk.

4. Railroad Street Trailhead: Situated at the intersection of Railroad Street and River Street, this access point offers convenient access to the River Walk.

5. Taconic Avenue Trailhead: Located at the intersection of Taconic Avenue and River Street, this access point provides another entry point to the River Walk.

6. Housatonic River Walk Extension: This extension of the River Walk can be accessed from the parking lot at the intersection of River Street and Cottage Street.

7. Housatonic River Walk Canoe Launch: This access point is specifically designed for launching canoes and kayaks into the Housatonic River. It is located at the intersection of River Street and Church Street.

8. Housatonic River Walk Canoe Portage: This access point is designed for portaging canoes and kayaks around the Great Barrington Dam. It is located at the intersection of River Street and Church Street.

These are some of the major access points or trailheads along the Great Barrington Housatonic River Walk.

Transportation Available

1. Berkshire Regional Transit Authority (BRTA) – Local bus service in the Berkshire County area.
2. Great Barrington Taxi – Taxi service operating in Great Barrington and surrounding areas.
3. Lime – Electric scooter and bike-sharing service available for short-distance travel.
4. Uber – On-demand ride-hailing service connecting passengers with local drivers.
5. Lyft – Ride-sharing platform offering convenient transportation options in the area.
6. Housatonic Railroad Company – Scenic train rides along the Housatonic River.
7. Peter Pan Bus Lines – Long-distance bus service connecting Great Barrington with other cities.
8. Turo – Peer-to-peer car rental service allowing individuals to rent vehicles from local owners.
9. Enterprise Rent-A-Car – Car rental agency providing various vehicle options for personal transportation needs.
10. Zipcar – Car-sharing service offering hourly and daily rentals for members.


The Great Barrington Housatonic River Walk offers the following amenities:

1. Restrooms: There are public restrooms available along the River Walk for visitors’ convenience.

2. Parking: There are designated parking areas near the River Walk where visitors can park their vehicles.

3. Camping Sites: While camping is not allowed directly on the River Walk, there are nearby campgrounds and recreational areas where visitors can set up their tents or RVs.

4. Picnic Areas: The River Walk features several designated picnic areas with tables and benches where visitors can enjoy a meal or snack while taking in the scenic views.

5. Benches: There are numerous benches along the River Walk, providing resting spots for visitors to relax and enjoy the surroundings.

6. Interpretive Signs: Throughout the River Walk, there are informative interpretive signs that provide details about the history, ecology, and significance of the area.

7. Trash Receptacles: To maintain cleanliness, there are trash receptacles placed along the River Walk for visitors to dispose of their waste properly.

8. Dog-Friendly: The River Walk is dog-friendly, allowing visitors to bring their furry friends along for a walk. However, dogs must be kept on a leash and owners are responsible for cleaning up after them.

9. Accessibility: The River Walk is designed to be accessible to people with disabilities, with paved paths and ramps for easy navigation.

10. Scenic Views: The River Walk offers stunning views of the Housatonic River, providing visitors with a peaceful and picturesque setting.

Please note that amenities may be subject to change, so it is advisable to check with the Great Barrington Housatonic River Walk management or website for the most up-to-date information.

Nearby Services

1. Fairfield Inn & Suites Great Barrington Lenox/Berkshires – Comfortable lodging option near the Housatonic River Walk.
2. The Barrington – A charming bed and breakfast located close to the river walk.
3. Wainwright Inn – Quaint inn offering cozy accommodations near the Housatonic River Walk.
4. Prairie Whale – Farm-to-table restaurant serving delicious meals, conveniently located near the river walk.
5. Baba Louie’s – Popular pizzeria offering a variety of wood-fired pizzas, located within walking distance of the river walk.
6. Fuel Coffee Shop – Cozy café serving coffee, pastries, and light bites, perfect for a quick snack before or after exploring the river walk.
7. Guido’s Fresh Marketplace – Local grocery store providing a range of fresh produce, snacks, and essentials, located nearby for any emergency needs.
8. Fairview Hospital – Nearby hospital offering emergency medical services if needed during your visit to the Housatonic River Walk.

Great Barrington Housatonic River Walk Difficulty Notes

The Great Barrington Housatonic River Walk offers a moderate difficulty level, making it accessible to a wide range of hikers. The trail is well-maintained and mostly flat, with some gentle inclines and occasional rocky sections. It provides a pleasant and scenic stroll along the Housatonic River, passing through lush forests and open meadows. While there are a few areas that may require careful footing, overall, the trail is suitable for individuals of varying fitness levels and ages, making it a popular choice for families and casual hikers looking to enjoy the natural beauty of the area.

Features And Attractions

1. Housatonic River: The main attraction of the Great Barrington Housatonic River Walk is, of course, the beautiful Housatonic River itself. Enjoy the serene views of the river as you walk along the trail.

2. Covered Bridge: One of the highlights of the River Walk is the historic covered bridge that spans the Housatonic River. This picturesque bridge offers a great photo opportunity and adds to the charm of the area.

3. Riverfront Park: Located along the River Walk, Riverfront Park is a lovely green space where you can relax and enjoy the scenic views. The park features picnic areas, benches, and a playground for children.

4. Historic Buildings: As you stroll along the River Walk, you’ll come across several historic buildings that add to the area’s charm. These buildings showcase the architectural heritage of Great Barrington and provide a glimpse into its past.

5. Wildlife: The Housatonic River Walk is home to a variety of wildlife, including birds, turtles, and fish. Keep an eye out for these creatures as you explore the trail, especially if you’re a nature enthusiast or birdwatcher.

6. Canoe Meadows Wildlife Sanctuary: Located adjacent to the River Walk, the Canoe Meadows Wildlife Sanctuary is a beautiful natural area that offers stunning views of meadows, wetlands, and woodlands. It’s a great spot for birdwatching and enjoying the tranquility of nature.

7. Ice Glen: Just a short distance from the River Walk, Ice Glen is a natural landmark that features a deep gorge with towering rock walls. This unique geological formation is a popular spot for hiking and exploring.

8. Monument Mountain: While not directly on the River Walk, Monument Mountain is a nearby natural landmark that offers breathtaking views of the surrounding area. The mountain is known for its scenic hiking trails and historical significance.

9. Lake Mansfield: Located a short drive from the River Walk, Lake Mansfield is a picturesque lake surrounded by lush forests. It’s a great spot for fishing, kayaking, or simply enjoying a peaceful picnic by the water.

10. Great Barrington Town Center: The River Walk starts and ends in the heart of Great Barrington’s town center. Take some time to explore the charming streets, historic buildings, and local shops and restaurants that make up this vibrant community.

Usage Guidelines

– Dogs must be kept on a leash at all times.
– Owners are responsible for cleaning up after their pets.
– Bicycles are allowed on the trail but must yield to pedestrians.
– Motorized vehicles are not permitted on the trail.
– Fishing is allowed in designated areas only.
– Swimming or wading in the river is not permitted.
– Camping or overnight stays are not allowed.
– Fires or open flames are prohibited.
– Littering is strictly prohibited.
– Alcohol consumption is not allowed on the trail.
– Use of tobacco products is prohibited.
– The trail is open year-round, but certain sections may be closed during winter months due to weather conditions or maintenance.
– Visitors are encouraged to stay on designated paths and respect private property boundaries.
– Respect wildlife and do not disturb or feed animals.
– Use of drones or other remote-controlled devices is not permitted without prior authorization.
– Organized events or gatherings may require permits or prior approval from the appropriate authorities.
– Visitors are responsible for their own safety and should exercise caution while using the trail.

Seasonal Information

The Great Barrington Housatonic River Walk is a picturesque trail located in Great Barrington, Massachusetts, offering visitors a serene and scenic experience. The best times of the year to visit this beautiful trail are during the spring and fall seasons. In the spring, the trail comes alive with vibrant colors as the trees and flowers bloom, creating a stunning backdrop for a leisurely stroll. The fall season, on the other hand, offers a breathtaking display of autumn foliage, with the trail adorned in shades of red, orange, and gold.

During these seasons, the weather is generally pleasant, making it ideal for outdoor activities. The temperatures are mild, and the air is crisp, providing a comfortable environment for visitors to explore the trail. Additionally, the trail is less crowded during these times, allowing visitors to fully immerse themselves in the tranquility and natural beauty of the surroundings.

It is important to note that the Great Barrington Housatonic River Walk has seasonal closures during the winter months. Due to the potential for icy conditions and snow accumulation, the trail is closed for safety reasons. It is advisable to check the trail’s official website or contact the local authorities for the most up-to-date information regarding closures and trail conditions during the winter season.

Overall, the best times to visit the Great Barrington Housatonic River Walk are during the spring and fall, when the trail is at its most vibrant and the weather is pleasant. However, it is essential to stay informed about any seasonal closures to ensure a safe and enjoyable visit.


1. Accessible Parking: Designated parking spaces are available near the entrance of the Great Barrington Housatonic River Walk for individuals with disabilities.
2. Entrance Ramp: A ramp provides wheelchair access to the River Walk, ensuring a smooth transition from the parking area to the trail.
3. Wide Pathways: The pathways throughout the River Walk are wide enough to accommodate wheelchairs, allowing for easy navigation.
4. Benches: Several benches are strategically placed along the trail, providing resting spots for individuals with mobility challenges.
5. Accessible Restrooms: Accessible restrooms are available near the River Walk, equipped with features such as grab bars and wider doorways.
6. Braille Signage: Signage along the River Walk includes Braille, ensuring individuals with visual impairments can easily navigate the area.
7. Handrails: Handrails are installed along certain sections of the River Walk, providing additional support and stability for individuals with mobility limitations.
8. Accessible Picnic Areas: Picnic areas along the River Walk are designed to be wheelchair accessible, allowing everyone to enjoy outdoor dining.
9. Audio Guides: Audio guides are available for individuals with visual impairments, providing descriptive information about the surroundings.
10. Service Animal Accommodation: The Great Barrington Housatonic River Walk welcomes service animals, ensuring individuals with disabilities have the necessary support during their visit.

Safety Information

When visiting the Great Barrington Housatonic River Walk, it is important to keep the following safety information in mind:

1. Stay on designated paths: Stick to the marked trails and paths to avoid getting lost or wandering into unsafe areas. Respect any signs or barriers indicating restricted or closed areas.

2. Be aware of your surroundings: Stay alert and aware of your surroundings at all times. Watch out for uneven terrain, slippery surfaces, or any potential hazards along the trail.

3. Dress appropriately: Wear comfortable and appropriate clothing and footwear for walking or hiking. Consider the weather conditions and dress in layers to adapt to changing temperatures.

4. Use insect repellent: The area may have mosquitoes, ticks, or other insects, especially during warmer months. Apply insect repellent to protect yourself from bites and potential diseases.

5. Carry water and snacks: Stay hydrated by carrying an adequate amount of water with you. Additionally, pack some light snacks to keep your energy levels up during your visit.

6. Sun protection: Apply sunscreen, wear a hat, and use sunglasses to protect yourself from harmful UV rays. The trail may have limited shade, so it’s essential to protect your skin from sunburn.

7. Stay away from wildlife: While the Great Barrington Housatonic River Walk is known for its natural beauty, it’s important to keep a safe distance from any wildlife you may encounter. Do not feed or approach animals, as this can be dangerous for both you and the animals.

8. Travel in groups: If possible, visit the trail with a companion or in a group. This can enhance safety and provide assistance in case of an emergency.

9. Carry a cell phone: Keep your cell phone fully charged and carry it with you for emergencies. Ensure you have a signal and know the emergency contact numbers for the area.

10. Leave no trace: Respect the environment and leave no trace of your visit. Dispose of any trash properly and follow any guidelines or regulations set by the trail management.

Remember, safety is paramount when visiting any outdoor area. By following these safety tips, you can have an enjoyable and safe experience while exploring the Great Barrington Housatonic River Walk.

Conservation Notes

The Great Barrington Housatonic River Walk is a conservation area that is actively managed and protected to preserve its ecological integrity and promote biodiversity. The conservation status of this river walk is considered to be in good standing, as it is well-maintained and monitored by local authorities and conservation organizations.

Efforts have been made to protect the natural habitats and wildlife that call the Great Barrington Housatonic River Walk home. The conservation status of this area ensures that the native flora and fauna are safeguarded, allowing for the preservation of the unique ecosystem that exists along the river. This includes protecting the riparian vegetation, which plays a crucial role in stabilizing the riverbanks, preventing erosion, and providing habitat for various species.

Conservation measures also focus on maintaining water quality in the Housatonic River, which is essential for the survival of aquatic organisms and the overall health of the ecosystem. Regular water testing and monitoring are conducted to ensure that pollution levels are kept to a minimum, and any potential threats to the river’s health are promptly addressed.

Overall, the conservation status of the Great Barrington Housatonic River Walk reflects a commitment to preserving the natural beauty and ecological value of this area. Through ongoing conservation efforts, this river walk continues to provide a safe haven for wildlife, a recreational space for visitors, and a valuable educational resource for the community.

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