The trail map below can be found at:
At the intersection of Hawthorne Road and Hawthorne Street, across from the Linde Center, is Bullard Woods, 52 acres of land along Stockbridge Bowl. The woods were originally part of the estate surrounding the Highwood manor house where Mr. and Mrs. William Norton Bullard lived. The house, though originally bequeathed to Harvard, is now part of Tanglewood and is open to the public. In 1954, Mrs. Bullard, who was one of the original SBA members, deeded the woods to the SBA. She remained at Highwood until her death in 1960.
The woods are managed by the SBA which has created and maintained 1.25 miles of hiking trails that begin at the parking lot at Hawthorne Road and lead to the shoreline. A bridge fords a stream in the woods, and the public can walk through the woods, across the Tanglewood connector and continue on to Gould Meadows, exiting on Route 183. There are picnic tables near the water, and visitors are asked to leave no trash behind.
Through a generous donation from Linda and Frank Russell, a beautiful tree swing was hung in one of the meadows under a spreading red oak. Unfortunately, the often-used swing taxed the branch it hung from and has been replaced by two benches in the same location. The SBA leads Heritage Walks through Bullard Woods on five weekends during September and October.
The SBA asks that all dog walkers please be respectful of others and pick up after their companion animals. Also, not all visitors to Bullard Woods are comfortable when approached by an unleashed dog, no matter how eager that dog may be in sharing its love and exuberance. Dogs should be managed appropriately so all can enjoy uninterrupted recreational time.
Ticks have become an increasing problem in the Berkshires, and the SBA urges visitors to Bullard Woods to remain on trails and not venture into high grass or brush. Though not all ticks carry disease, it’s wise to exercise caution and make sure pets have tick repellents as well.
An article by Bernard A. Drew, which appeared in The Berkshire Eagle on December 19, 2014, describes Drew’s experiences visiting the old growth trees of Bullard Woods and provides some of the history of the previous owners of the land. An excerpt appears below:
“Bullard Woods in Stockbridge, property of the Stockbridge Bowl Association since 1957, is home to dozens and dozens of remarkable old “big trees,” as some call them.
As Donna and I walked from the Hawthorne Street parking lot to the lake one Sunday afternoon, we could only respect the height and girth of so many white pines, white ash, hemlock and other species around us.
My favorite forest guru, Robert T. Leverett, with his friend John Knuerr, assessed the woods in 2004. They identified a new state record white oak (115.3 feet high, 6.9 feet diameter at breast height). They also found a white pine that was more than 133 feet high, a tulip tree 124.4 feet, a shagbark hickory 114 feet and a black cherry 100.8 feet.
Where these trees are on the property, I can’t tell you. As we walked the meandering trail, we mostly saw the pines and red and white oak soaring above the canopy. We saw tulip tree leaves but couldn’t trail them to the trees.
‘Bullard Woods is the only fairly diverse, mature woods site I have seen in Massachusetts where the white oaks stand toe to toe with the red oaks and in case of Bullard, may slightly eclipse the reds,’ Leverett said on an Eastern Native Tree Society webpage.
He also observed, ‘The big trees are rapidly falling and so the magic of Bullard Woods will soon be history.’
Leverett’s premonition proved out when he made another visit in 2010. He went to where ‘two huge white pines once grew. I say once, because one had fallen and hit the other causing it to lose one of its two trunks and die. It was a rather sad sight. The pine that fell measured 13.4 feet around when standing and was slightly over 130 feet in height. It was one of our true single-trunked thirteeners in Massachusetts.’
A ‘thirteener’ means its dbh exceeds 13 feet. ‘They form a pretty exclusive club, and the Bullard Woods thirteener was one of the best,’ he said.
We saw quite a few fallen pines during our walk in November — I don’t know which was the one Leverett referred to. All were impressive. The loss of the old trees doesn’t diminish the value and power of the woods; it’s part of a natural transition. Successive trees will take over and thrive in their place.
One can also go to the southern extreme of the Bullard Woods and reach lakeshore. A trail connects with another on land owned by Tanglewood that will take you to yet another on Gould Meadows, a property of the town of Stockbridge.
Old-growth woods are rare even in the Berkshires, which cut off 99.9 percent of its forests for timber, pulpwood and charcoal in the 19th century. The forests have grown back, but the difference is obvious when you walk among the big trees. The air is different. The lichens are different. The feeling is different.
Bullard Woods was once part of the East India merchant William Storey Bullard’s estate, Highwood, now part of Tanglewood. Bullard’s son Dr. William Norton Bullard (1853-1931) and his wife, Mary Reynolds Bullard (1865-1960), enjoyed the woods. She arranged to give it to the Stockbridge Bowl Association, with the stipulation it be maintained in its purity. Dr. Bullard was a neurologist for Boston City Hospital and collected early medical books. Mrs. Bullard was a trustee of the Museum of Fine Arts.”