Tuesday, July 23, 2013

Monument Mountain & South Street Package and Variety (Another Secret Spot for Great Indian Food!)

   My family recently hiked on Monument Mountain in Great Barrington. We’ve been doing the same hike for awhile and decided to change things up. This was a refreshing new hike for us!

   We started out by taking the Indian Monument Trail. According to the brochure/map, it was “the most gradual, providing walkers with a leisurely ascent up a former carriage road.” You start on a path that runs along the side of the road where you can hear the cars buzzing by and you stay on that for quite a while. Then, you head directly through the woods, which was an easy path to take, but there wasn’t much to look at. The path was very straightforward and gradual, but I struggled with how boring it was. It made it seem longer. We took this path because we had our son with us and we weren’t sure of how difficult each path would get.

   Once we got near the top, there were some rocks that appear to have been chipped away at/formed to serve as steps.

   At the top, there were some large rocks that we could rest on to have a snack and enjoy the view. To get the best view for picture taking however, you have to climb on top of the rocks, which can be nerve-wracking for those who have children with them or who have a fear of heights. I wouldn’t say it’s the most kid friendly mountaintop I’ve ever been on. There are some steep cliffs and dangerous edges! But the view was beautiful!

   On our way down, we decided to take the Hickey Trail. This trail was a lot more fun!There were several log bridges that you had to cross (that weren’t too far off the ground)   and a cave with a tiny stream of water pouring over the edge of it. We all found this path to be far more enjoyable.

   There was also a third trail, the Squaw Peak Trail, that was supposed to have the best views, but we didn’t attempt it because the map said it ran along the top of steep cliffs and that sounded a little too risky to do with a child. If you’ve done this trail or know anything about it, write me and let me know! I’d like to know if it would be appropriate for children.

   Overall, my family had a great experience. If we go back, we will skip taking the Indian Monument Trail the whole way up and take one of the other trails. They seemed to have more interesting things to look at. I need a little bit of excitement while I’m hiking!

A few points I wanted to make:

- I would say this hike is probably best for kids 6 and up. I think younger kids are capable of doing the hike, but I would worry about where they’ll want to explore once they get to the top. Keep a close eye on them!

- There are no bathrooms or portable toilets, so make sure you use the bathroom before you arrive to the trails.

- Bring your bug spray! Once you’re going directly through the woods, the gnats and mosquitos can get a little crazy around your head.

- It states this in the map but I want to make a point of restating it, please keep your dogs on their leashes. We went past several people who did NOT have their dogs on leashes and this makes the hike more uncomfortable for other people, especially when you have children with you. Dogs are curious creatures and that doesn’t go away just because they’re on a hike! Several of the dogs we passed tried to approach us (and it wasn’t always in a playful manner) and it was a little scary. You never know when animals may decide to act out. Just keep them away from other hikers, it’s courteous.

One of the most exciting parts of our hiking adventure though wasn’t the hike. It was this:

   South Street Package and Variety near the corner of 143 and 8 (South Street) in Hinsdale. I know, it doesn’t look like much, but this caught our eyes as we were driving by:

   Any hole-in-the-wall Indian place that is buried in the hilltowns is worth a try for us! Most people probably wouldn’t even think to stop and try it, but we LOVE hidden finds like this!

   When you go in, it looks like a typical package store (that’s a convenience store for you Michigan folks!) but there’s a little dining spot in the back. Nothing fancy, but details like that aren’t important when you’re passionate about good Indian food!

   The owners were a very nice family from New Delhi, India. We chatted with the husband for awhile while his wife cooked our order. It’s always fascinating to learn about other people and what brought them to Western Massachusetts! I just love meeting new people!

   We ordered the Chicken Saag, Chana Masala, Chicken Tikka, Pratatha, and Raita and they were all DELICIOUS! We especially liked the Chicken Saag and Chana Masala! We practically inhaled it! Even my son loved the Chicken Saag and he normally won’t go anywhere near anything with green in it!

   The food was great and very reasonably priced. We will DEFINITELY be dining there again. If you are ever in the Hinsdale area and LOVE and appreciate good Indian food, please support this business.

A final thing I wanted to add...

   Please know that I do not make any money from this blog and get nothing for free. I am not asked to visit or review any of the places that I write about. I do this strictly for fun and as a way to catalogue my family’s adventures. Hopefully, it will inspire you to visit and support some of these businesses though and go on some adventures of your own. Thank you for reading and thank you for supporting local businesses!   

   To read a little history about Monument Mountain, go to: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Monument_Mountain_%28reservation%29. To read more reviews of the Monument Mountain hike, go to: http://www.tripadvisor.com/Attraction_Review-g41586-d2008981-Reviews-Monument_Mountain-Great_Barrington_Massachusetts.html. 


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