The region's terrain is tremendously varied, and it tends to be hilly, but the Berkshires are relatively uncongested and extremely popular for biking, affording cycling enthusiasts of all abilities miles of great riding. The Ashuwillticook (pronounced Ash-oo-will-ti-cook) Rail Trail runs from the Pittsfield-Cheshire town line north up through Adams. Partly paved, it traces the old rail line and passes through rugged woodland and alongside Cheshire Lake. This is also a great venue for strolling, jogging, in-line skating, and cross-country skiing. The Berkshires Visitors Bureau distributes a free Berkshire Bike Touring Route, which is a series of relatively short excursions along area roads.

Ashuwillticook Rail Trail. Passing through the Hoosic River Valley, walkers and cyclists enjoy the paved 11-mile Ashuwillticook Rail Trail. Rte. 8, Lanesboro, MA. 413/442–8928.

Bartholomew's Cobble. This rock garden beside the Housatonic River (the Native American name means "river beyond the mountains") is a National Natural Landmark with 5 miles of hiking trails passing through fields of wildflowers. The 277-acre site has a visitor center and museum, in addition to the state's largest cottonwood trees. 105 Weatogue Rd., Sheffield, MA, 01257. 413/229–8600. $5. Daily dawn–dusk.

A 90-mile swath of the Appalachian Trail cuts through the Berkshires. You'll also find hundreds of miles of trails elsewhere throughout the area's forests and parks.

Appalachian Trail. If you've always dreamed of hiking the Appalachian Trail, consider this moderately strenuous 45-minute hike. At the top of the trail is Ice Gulch, a gorge so deep and cold that there is often ice in it even in summer. Follow the Ice Gulch ridge to the shelter and a large flat rock from which you can see a wide panorama of the valley. Lake Buel Rd., Great Barrington, MA.

Monument Mountain. For great views with minimal effort, hike Monument Mountain, famous as a spot for literary inspiration. Nathaniel Hawthorne and Herman Melville trekked it on August 5, 1850, and sought shelter in a cave when a thunderstorm hit. There they discussed ideas that would become part of a novel called Moby-Dick. While poet William Cullen Bryant stayed in the area, he penned a lyrical poem, "Monument Mountain," about a lovesick Mohican maiden who jumped to her death from the cliffs. Feel like hiking? An easy 2.5-mile loop is reachable via a parking lot. U.S. 7, near Rte. 102, Great Barrington, MA. 413/298–3239.

Catamount Ski Area. With a 1,000-foot vertical drop, Catamount Ski Area is ideal for family skiing. It has some of the most varied terrain in the Berkshires. There are 34 trails served by six lifts, plus three terrain parks for snowboarders and others. The Sidewinder, an intermediate cruising trail, is more than 1 mile from top to bottom. There's also lighted nighttime boarding and skiing. 3290 Rte. 23, South Egremont, MA, 01258. 413/528–1262; 413/528–1262 snow conditions.

Ski Butternut. With the longest quad lift in the Berkshires, Ski Butternut is good for skiers of all levels. For snowboarders there are top-to-bottom terrain parks and a beginner park, and eight lanes are available for snow tubing. For downhill skiing, only a steep chute or two interrupt the mellow terrain on 22 trails. Eleven lifts, including four carpet lifts, keep traffic spread out. Ski and snowboard lessons are available. 380 State Rd., Great Barrington, MA, 01230. 413/528–2000; 413/528–4433 ski school; 800/438–7669 snow conditions.