off Park Street, Stockbridge, Massachusetts
We were staying at the Travel Lodge motel in Great Barrington along Route 7. We took Route 7 north to Stockbridge. We passed over the Housatonic River and took the first right (which is by a riverside park) onto Park Street. Drive 0.2 of a mile to the dead end area where there is a parking area. The memorial bridge is immediately viewable from the parking area. Head over the bridge.
I had heard about this area so many times when I was working on a travel book for lower New England. David Dudley Field was the social leader of a literary group of influential American writers. He and his literary friends would often go on hikes together, such as at Ice Glen and at Monument Mountain.
But when I was doing the travel work, I did not know much about hiking and nature. So I was never able to figure out where the Ice Glen was located.
My wife bought a book by Russell Dunn and Barbara Delaney, Trails with Tales: History Hikes, which located the Ice Glen. I also used the history information from that book below.
1798 -- Timothy Dwight wrote the first description of the Ice Glen (in his Travels in New England).
1829 -- the glen was described in The History of the County of Berkshire.
1841 -- Dr. S. P. Parker organized the first torchlight party through the area for the amusement of his pupils.
Some of the notables that visited the Ice Glen included: Dr. Oliver Wendell Holmes, Herman Melville, Nathaniel Hawthorne, William Cullen Bryant, Henry Sedgwick and Catherine Sedgwick.
1850 (August 5) -- David Dudley Field, a New York attorney with a residence in downtown Stockbridge, lead a distinguished group through the area. On this hike the friendship of Herman Melville and Nathaniel Hawthorne cemented itself.
by 1854 -- the name of the peculiar rock formations became Ice Glen.
1891 – David Dudley Field gave the land to Stockbridge.
1895 – a bridge over the Housatonic River given by Mary Hopkins Goodrich.
1936 – the second Memorial Bridge erected by the Laurel Hill Association to replace the earlier memorial bridge.
Walked over the Memorial Bridge; it is very attractive; noticed the river was a brown color. On the other side of the river there is a description of the three trails. The short Mary V. Flynn Trail goes along the other side of the Housatonic River from the parking area to a loop at the end and then heads back.
We reached a fork in the trail. Heading left takes one to the tower. Bearing a little right takes the hiker to the Ice Glen.
Ice Glen Trail:
Head uphill over the railway tracks and on up the mountain; there are lots of ferns here; head through a white pine area; reach the start of the Ice Glen where there is an inscription, Ice Glen: the Gift to Stockbridge of David Dudley Field 1891"; there is a forest on one rock complete with herbs and trees; lots and lots of green, green moss on the rock (very beautiful); a glen is a very narrow ravine; this one has boulders on both that have tumbled onto each other from two sides of the glen, leaving many tent shaped pseudo-cave openings; the experiences is a feeling of being very close in (it’s best not to have claustrophobia on this hike).
This is a somewhat dangerous walk because it is such a tight fit at times between the rocks. And when we were there it was drizzling and the rocks were very wet. Although the walk through the actual glen is only about 0.2 of a mile, it took us quite a long time to make our way through the glen because we had to be very careful.
At the end of the glen the area opens open very large. This is also a nice area, but it is a very short because there is a house on the left and the road is just a short distance away.
We turned around and went back to the parking area.
We were going to head back so we could take the path to Laura's Tower, but a glitch occurred in our plans and we had to return directly to the car.
The walk is highly recommended. The rock formations and the green of the mosses and the ferns is absolutely beautiful.
Dr. Patrick L. Cooney, 6/17/2006
Dr. Patrick L. Cooney, 6/17/06 = plant in bloom on date of field trip.
Acer negundo (box elder)
Acer pensylvanicum (striped maple)
Acer platanoides (Norway maple)
Betula alleghaniensis (yellow birch)
Fagus grandifolia (American beech)
Fraxinus americana (white ash)
Juniperus virginiana (red cedar)
Ostrya virginiana (American hop hornbeam)
Pinus strobus (white pine)
Quercus rubra (red oak)
Tilia americana (American basswood)
Tsuga canadensis (eastern hemlock)
Ulmus americana (American elm)
Berberis thunbergii (Japanese barberry)
Cornus alternifolia (alternate-leaved dogwood)
Diervilla lonicera (bush honeysuckle)
Hamamelis virginiana (witch hazel)
Lonicera morrowii (Morrow’s honeysuckle)
Mitchella repens (partridgeberry)
Rhamnus cathartica (common buckthorn)
Rubus sp. (blackberry) *
Rubus odoratum (purple flowering raspberry) *
Sambucus racemosa (red elderberry)
Viburnum acerifolium (maple-leaf viburnum) *
Viburnum alnifolium (hobblebush)
Clematis virginiana (virgin’s bower)
Smilax herbacea (carrion flower) *
Parthenocissus quinquefolia (Virginia creeper)
Actaea rubra (white baneberry)
Alliaria petiolata (garlic mustard)
Aralia nudicaulis (wild sarsaparilla)
Arctium sp. (burdock)
Arisaema triphyllum (Jack -in-the-pulpit)
Aster sp. (aster)
Caulophyllum thalictroides (blue cohosh)
Chenopodium album (pigweed)
Collinsonia canadensis (horsebalm)
Cryptotaenia canadensis (honewort) *
Epipactis helleborine (helleborine orchid)
Eupatorium rugosum (white snakeroot)
Geum sp. (avens)
Glechoma hederacea (gill over the ground)
Hesperis matronalis (dame’s rocket) *
Impatiens sp. (jewelweed)
Maianthemum canadense (Canada mayflower)
Osmorhiza longistylis (aniseroot)
Oxalis sp. (yellow wood sorrel) *
Plantago major (common plantain)
Polygonatum (giant Solomon’s seal) * huge monster
Polygonatum pubescens (hairy true Solomon’s seal)
Prenanthes spp. (lettuce)
Rumex obtusifolius (broad dock)
Sisyrinchium sp. (blue-eyed grass)
Smilacina odoratum (false Solomon’s seal)
Taraxacum officinale (common dandelion)
Trientalis borealis (starflower) *
Trifolium pratense (red clover) *
Urtica dioica var. procera (tall nettle) *
Viola sp. (violet)
Anthoxanthum odoratum (sweet vernal grass)
Dactylis glomerata (orchard grass)
Equisetum arvense (field horsetail)
Adiantum pedatum (maidenhair fern)
Matteuccia struthiopteris (ostrich fern)
Onoclea sensibilis (sensitive fern)
Osmunda cinnamomea (cinnamon fern)
Osmunda claytoniana (interrupted fern)
Polystichum acrostichoides (Christmas fern)
Pteridium aquilinum (bracken fern)