Date Of Visit: March 21, 2020
Location: 170 Under Mountain Rd, Lenox, MA (1 hour northwest of Springfield, MA, 2 hours west of Boston, MA, 1 hr and 15 mins northwest of Hartford, CT)
Hours: Open daily, sunrise to sunset
Parking: There is room for about a dozen cars in the parking lot
Universally Accessible: Yes
Dog Friendly: Yes
Trail Distance: .75 miles, 435 acres of wetland
Trail Difficulty: Easy with gentle inclines
Highlights: scenic, wildlife, easy paths, benches, observation platform
Summary: A .60 mile universally accessible boardwalk (both ways) leads to a scenic overlook of the pet friendly Parsons Marsh Reserve. Along the boardwalk are a variety of trees, plants and wildlife.
Website: Parsons Marsh Reserve
Trail Map: Parsons Marsh Reserve Trail Map
Established in 2018, Parsons Marsh Reserve is one of the newer hidden gems of New England. Home to a variety of species and plant life, Parsons Marsh Reserve is the perfect place for a family day or just a walk by yourself.
The reserve is named after John E. Parsons, a New York City attorney and philanthropist who purchased land in 1875 on the west side of Under Mountain Road. Parsons would go on to build a Gilded Age house and outbuildings along the road. The original house was razed but the barn still stands as part of nearby Stonover Farm (presently a bed and breakfast farther along the road). But, his memory lives on at the reserve.
As you approach the main entrance and walk along the dirt path, there are antique farm machines and a pond with a very creaky and somewhat shaky board to walk out on. I did try my luck and it is indeed safe to walk out on. But it is also not for the feint of heart. A bench is located in front of the lake for people sit and reflect (within a safe distance of each other of course). There is also a shed set aside from the pond. Nothing too interesting was in there. Just a pair of oars were resting against the wall of the structure.
As you walk along the trail to the pond, you may notice a work in progress pollinator habitat being built by the Lenox Garden Club and Berkshire Natural Resources Council. All of the materials being used for the habitat are biodegradable and chemicals are being used for the habitat. I look forward to seeing it when it is complete.
The one third of a mile boardwalk along the marsh is an stroll, albeit a bit narrow given these “social distancing times.” It is also universally accessible.
The trail, 1,800 feet long, has an 800-foot boardwalk including three bridges. Along the boardwalk there are a variety of plants and trees. Many of the roots of the trees along the marsh are exposed as a result of the marsh water level dropping.
There are also large rock outcrops which are the remnants of glaciers from some 20,000 years ago. But, the highlight of the reserve has to be the outlook platform at the end of the boardwalk. The outlook offers sweeping views of an open meadow pond at the end of the marsh.
It being early Spring, there was a lot of chirping, screeching and plopping at the reserve (and then there was the wildlife). But, seriously, there were definite signs of spring evident during my visit. But, there was no visible activity in the water, save for a few black ducks in the far distance and the birds were elusive. I do think in a future visit on a warmer day, earlier in the morning I will have better luck finding signs of life there.
Preliminary plans are in the works to create trails that would extend to nearby Kennedy Park in Lenox and parts of Pittsfield.