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Becket-Chimney Corners YMCA Berkshire Outdoor Center

BOC > Facilities & Meals > Natural Resources



Berkshire Outdoor Center, and the entire Becket-Chimney Corners YMCA, is located on 1,350 acres of beautiful conservation lands in the Berkshire Hills of western Massachusetts. This pristine environment makes for a rustic, natural, secluded experience.



Dominated by maple, beech and birch, Becket-Chimney Corners YMCA's property is on the very southern end of the Northern Broadleaf Forest. Extending across South East Canada and the northern portions of inland New England, the forest juts further south, keeping high on the range of the Berkshire Hills. Northern broadleaf forest includes woodlands: Maple-Birch-Beech woods, Eastern White Pine groves, and Eastern Hemlock woods, all three woodland types common on our property. Northern broadleaf forest is famous for its spectacular fall foliage, and our property is an outstanding example.

An extended network of marked hiking trails criss-crosses our property, providing access to a remarkable - outdoor classroom - for children and youth to study hands-on ecology, for adults to take guided nature hikes, and for people of ages to wander and experience the serenity of the natural Berkshires.

Common species on our property include: Sugar Maple, Red Maple, Striped Maple, Black Cherry, American Beech, White Birch, Yellow Birch, Black Birch, Grey Birch, Eastern Hemlock, Eastern White Pine, Balsam Fir, and Red Spruce. Additionally, you will see plenty of Mountain Laurel, Highbush Blueberry, even Pink Lady Slippers if you look closely in the spring.


On over 90 acres, Rudd Pond is an exceptional example of a typical New England pond. Additionally, there's Ice Pond, near the Brewster House (built in 1786 and listed on the National Register of Historic Places), and Smith Pond - a long, narrow pond at our Chimney Corners campus. We own the land around all three of these ponds, and so the experience for your stay will be quite private. We don't use any motorized boats, providing a peaceful, tranquil experience.

Additionally, several brooks run through our property, some of which have been dammed by American Beavers. These beaver meadows cover many acres and are great for our pond ecology and beaver ecology classes. Wetlands created by beavers, as well as other natural vernal and year-round wetlands, are the highlight of our backcountry.

The highlight of our waterways however is the Peat Bog. Covering about 1.5 acres, the bog is pristine - and we can show you plenty of Pitcher Plants - carnivorous plants that live specifically in that type of habitat.

Animal Habitats

The waterways and wetlands of our property, along with the northern broadleaf forest that covers most of it, provide exceptional habitats to a variety of animals. Some of the animals that we see on our property include:

Recent Mammal Sightings

  • American Beaver - there are at least five families on our property, occupying five different lodges.
  • Common Porcupine - there is one den in particular that we occasionally include on our nature hike and ecology classes
  • Northern River Otter - during the winter you will see their "slides" built into the snow banks. During the fall you might see otters in Smith Pond.
  • Fisher - reasonably common weasel on the southern end of our property. They like to eat porcupines.
  • Black Bear - the most "vegetarian" of the carnivores.
  • Bobcat -“ very occasionally there have been staff-reported sightings.
  • Moose - staff and guest sightings at our Camp Becket campus as well as tracks in the mud near our beaver meadows.
  • Southern Flying Squirrel - you will be lucky to see these gorgeous, nocturnal, flying rodents.
  • Striped Skunk - there have been occasional night time sightings of this famous weasel.
  • Raccoon, Red Squirrel, Eastern Chipmunk, Woodchuck - prevalent.
  • Grey Squirrels and White-Tailed Deer are infrequently sighted. They are not as common in this area as other parts of New England - many assume due to the lack of oak trees (and acorns). This may result in a lower prevalence of deer ticks, and thus a lower prevalence of Lyme Disease than in surrounding counties.
  • Little Brown Bat - Commonly seen at dusk once the mosquitoes and black flies start.
  • Coyotes - You will hear them in the distance at night, though sightings are not common.
  • Red Fox - an import from Europe, these foxes are common throughout the United States.
  • Opposum, Moles and Voles - Occasional sightings.

Recent Amphibian Sightings

  • Eastern Newt - Aquatic and terrestrial (red eft) forms are commonly sighted
  • Eastern Red Backed Salamander
  • Spotted Salamander (very occasional)
  • American Toad (commonly sighted)
  • Spring Peeper (commonly sighted)
  • Bullfrog (commonly sighted)
  • Green Frog
  • Pickerel Frog
  • Wood Frog (commonly sighted)

Reptile Sightings

  • Painted Turtle - common on northern end of Rudd Pond and Smith Pond/Hamilton Brook as well as the beaver meadows
  • Snapping Turtle - primarily at Rudd Pond
  • Common Garter Snake
  • Northern Water Snake (Hamilton Brook 5.16.2010)
  • Other snakes exist, but are not commonly sighted.

Recent Non-Passerine Bird Sightings

  • Hooded Merganser (pair) - Ice Pond
  • Common Loon - Rudd Pond only
  • Double-Crested Cormorant - Rudd Pond only
  • Great Blue Heron - Gibson Cove on Rudd Pond, beaver meadows, northern end of Smith Pond/Hamilton Brook - timid. When you approach, they will fly.
  • Canada Goose - who hasn't seen these
  • Mallard - there's a pair that live on Ice Pond during the warmer months, and there are several on the northern end of Rudd Pond, east of Long Point.
  • Other ducks and geese exist, but have not been reported in the last 3 years.
  • Red Tailed Hawk
  • Osprey - Rudd Pond only
  • Bald Eagles have been reported, but not verified.
  • Other birds of prey have been sighted, but not identified.
  • Ruffed Grouse
  • Wild Turkey (commonly sighted)
  • Mourning Dove (commonly sighted)
  • Barred Owl - commonly heard near Iroquois Village and the Intercamp Trail
  • Ruby Throated Hummingbird - summer only
  • Belted Kingfisher - Rudd Pond Only
  • Pileated Woodpecker
  • Hairy Woodpecker
  • Downy Woodpecker
  • Yellow Bellied Sapsucker (commonly sighted)
  • Red Bellied Woodpecker
  • Flicker - commonly sighted on the IGL Field in late spring

Recent Passerine Bird Sightings

Eastern Phoebe

  • Eastern Kingbird
  • Blue Jay
  • American Crow (commonly sighted)
  • Common Raven (commonly sighted)
  • Tufted Titmouse
  • Black Capped Chickadee (commonly sighted)
  • White Breasted Nuthatch (commonly sighted)
  • Eastern Bluebird (not commonly sighted)
  • Wood Thrush - commonly heard
  • Gray Catbird
  • American Robin - arrives immediately after the snow melts (commonly sighted)
  • Cedar Waxwing
  • Indigo Bunting
  • Dark Eyed Junco (commonly sighted)
  • Red Winged Blackbird
  • Common Grackle
  • Brown Headed Cowbird
  • Baltimore Oriole
  • Pine Grosbeak
  • American Gold Finch (commonly sighted)
  • Purple Finch
  • Common Redpoll (commonly sighted)

Common Fish Sightings

  • Yellow Perch
  • Small Mouth Bass
  • Catfish
  • Chain Pickerel
  • Pumpkinseed

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748 Hamilton Road, Becket, MA 01223
Tel: (413) 623-8991 | Fax: (413) 623-5890