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
Visitor’s center is open year round. Hours vary by season. Call 413.298.3239 x 3013 for hours. 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 natural history museum (handicapped-accessible public restrooms). Private functions may be arranged for groups of up to 40 people; call or e-mail for more information.
The Trustees reserves the right to photograph or video visitors and program participants for promotional use, and usage of our properties implies consent. Find the full policy here.
105 Weatogue Road
Sheffield, MA 01257
Get directions on Google Maps.
From Mass Turnpike (I-90), Exit 2 for Rt. 20 East. Follow 4.6 mi., then take 1st right onto Rt. 102 West/Pleasant St. Go 6.6 mi. Turn left onto Rt. 7 South. After 8.5 mi., turn right onto Rt. 7A and follow for 0.5 mi. Turn right onto Rannapo Rd. and follow for 1.5 mi. Turn right onto Weatogue Rd. to entrance and parking (30 cars) on left.
From Rt. 7 North in Canaan, CT, turn left onto Rt. 7A and cross state border. Turn left onto Rannapo Rd. and follow for 0.8 mi. Turn left onto Weatogue Rd. to entrance and parking (30 cars) on left.
When to Visit
Visitor’s center is open year round. Hours vary by season. Call 413.298.3239 x 3013 for hours. Allow a minimum of 2 hours, 3 hours if also visiting the Ashley House.
Parking: $5 per car for nonmembers; FREE for members
Admission: $5 per person for nonmembers; $1 per nonmember child (6-12); FREE for members
Get more information about parking fees >>
Group rates offered for special programs and vary depending on program; call 413.229.8600 or email email@example.com for more information.
The reservation is named for George Bartholomew, a farmer who purchased the fields and uplands in the late 19th Century. But more than a hundred years earlier, Col. John Ashley had gathered together a sprawling estate of which the current reservation was only a part. The Trustees acquired the Cobble in 1946; Ashley’s home, also owned by the Trustees, still stands on nearby Cooper Hill Rd.
Property Acquisition History
Original acreage purchased in 1946. Additional land purchased in 1963, 1968, and 1969, and in 1976 with a matching grant from the National Park Service and the Massachusetts Historical Commission. Additional land given by Ellen Spero Roman and James S. and Robert E. Spero in 1978; Antonio J., Gilbert F., and Vincent A. Malnati in 1981; Harry Kahn in 1982; Dr. Alan J. Frish in 1982; and Ann Z. Grumpelt in 1996 and 2000.
Archival material related to Bartholomew's Cobble is available to researchers at the Archives & Research Center in Sharon, Massachusetts.
S. Waldo Bailey Negatives of Berkshire County
(6.0 linear feet)
Negatives of plants, flowers, trees, animals, and birds in the Berkshires, 1898–1961.
The Trustees of Reservations offer guided natural history canoe tours that help adults and children (12 and older) explore the natural wonders of Bartholomew’s Cobble and the Housatonic River. All guided tours are led by expert naturalists, and proceeds support ongoing conservation work at Bartholomew's Cobble, including conducting wildlife research, protecting endangered species, and restoring native habitats.
Visitors may also participate in workshops, lectures, and children's programs. For listings, visit our events calendar or contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org.
New Program! Flying Deer Nature Center at Bartholomew’s Cobble
Meets 10 Fridays (February 28–May 16)
Bartholomew’s Cobble in Sheffield, MA
This program offers children ages 7-12 the opportunity to explore this unique landscape, craft items from natural materials, and learn through play. With a focus on stewardship, responsibility, and connection to place, students learn through a blend of storytelling, play, imagination, ancestral skills, and activities.
Flying Deer Nature Center
Learn more about Flying Deer Nature Center and register here.
Since 1891, The Trustees of Reservations have worked to protect special places in Massachusetts and maintain them to the highest standards. To ensure these standards are met, a program of careful planning and sound management is essential. Comprehensive property management plans are created for each reservation and are completely updated approximately every ten years. We often work with volunteers, property users, and members of the community to carry out this planning, which typically involves several steps:
A printed trail map is available for free at the bulletin board in the parking area. Please understand that supplies sometimes run out. We recommend that you download a trail map before you visit.
Private functions may be arranged for groups of up to 40 people; call 413.229.8600 or email email@example.com for more information.
Before You Go
We encourage you to visit as many Trustees properties as you can.
Wherever your travels take you, please observe all posted regulations, follow special instructions from property staff, and keep in mind the Stewardship Code:
Click on links below for further visitor information:
Before Setting Out
We’d love to hear about your visit! Here are three easy ways to let us know what you think:
Take our challenge again this year and see how far you can hike and how many properties you can visit.
Rock this challenge >>
Fun outdoor winter activities
Dec 26 – Mass Appeal
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Oct 3 – Boston Magazine
10 Fall Hikes in Massachusetts to Suit Your Personality
Oct 1 – The Boston Globe