Imagine a spot along the Appalachian Trail where you can get 360-degree mountain panoramas without working your buns off climbing, or where extended stretches offer great, open views instead of long vaults of trees. On the Riga Plateau -- one of the finest easy-weekend treks in the Northeast -- you earn such rewards for so little work that it almost feels like cheating.
From either end of this one-way, 17-mile traverse (figure in a 15-minute car shuttle), you gain the crest of the low plateau, or ridge, by climbing a mere several hundred feet. The trail rolls gently through deciduous and coniferous forest, but at numerous points opens up at ledges and summits, including Mt. Everett, Riga's high point at 2,602 feet. If for some odd reason you get tired of the eye-pleasing views of the green Berkshire hills and bucolic valleys, there are misty waterfalls that sprinkle the woods along the trail.
Where: 130 miles north of New York City and 160 miles west of Boston. The trailheads are .8 mile north of Salisbury, Connecticut, on CT 41, and on Jug End Road, which connects with CT 41 via Curtiss Road on the southern fringe of Egremont, Massachusetts.
Maps:Map and Guide to the Appalachian Trail to Massachusetts-Connecticut ($19.95, Appalachian Trail Conference, 888-287-8673) offers information for the trail on both sides of the border.
Trail Info: Appalachian Mountain Gear, (413) 528-8811.