Picture this: You're driving down the interstate, cruise control on, windows down, stereo blasting. It's a perfect 80 degrees, you don't have to work, and you've got the whole day ahead of you. You pull off the road and a beautiful vista lies in front of you. A pond sparkles in the sunshine, birds are chirping happily in the trees, and best of all...it's peaceful. You pop the trunk and pull out a fishing pole, that set of watercolors you've been meaning to use, your best pair of broken-in hiking boots, and breathe in the fresh summer air. But wait, where the heck are you?
Is it a national park? If we were going on overall vibes, the answer might be yes.
Is it a? Getting warmer, but think more fins.
Is it one of the nation's most underrated outdoor destinations...national fish hatcheries? Ding ding ding! We have a winner!
The National Fish Hatchery System has been improving recreational fishing and restoring aquatic species since 1872 (uhhhh, yeah that makes them 150 years old!) and yet, lots of folks might not even know that their grounds are often open to the public and entry is FREE! The wonderful thing about fish hatcheries is that they offer something for everyone in your group...no more disgruntled sighs from the backseat!
Each hatchery highlighted in our road trip series is over 100 years old and has four sections of information:
🚙 Trip Highlights: This is where you'll find hatchery activity suggestions for different folks in your group. These aren't full lists, just some of the things we think are pretty cool. Before you hit the road, be sure to check each hatchery's web page for additional activities and we recommend calling ahead to check on their opening status and any possible closures. We've also got some good info on how and where to purchase a fishing license, if that's on your activity itinerary!
🚧 Detour: Is it really a road trip if you only go to one place? Well, yeah, but where's the fun in that? We've provided each hatchery with a nearby pit stop suggestion for the free spirits among us. (Full disclosure, besties: We haven't actually been to any of these spots and are in no way promoting them over other destinations, they just sound fun. Please do your research beforehand to check on fees, accessibility, travel restrictions, etc!)
🎶 Featured Song: One of the best parts of a road trip is the playlist. You probably have your own set of cool tunes, but we couldn't resist including some other suggestions for your listening pleasure!
🧭 Road Map: Ok, it's not actually a real map, but it's a fun, colorful graphic you can share online or print out for your trip!
Buckle those seatbelts, we’re taking you on a ride through some of the nation’s oldest hatcheries that you’ll definitely want to add to your summer road trip itineraries and they are free to the public. First up in the series, hatcheries over 100 years old in the northeast!
Berkshire National Fish Hatchery - Massachusetts
Berkshire is a 148-acre cold-water facility located in the woods of Monterey, Massachusetts. It supports the restoration of lake trout populations in the lower Great Lakes by supplying lake trout eggs to other federal hatcheries. They also raise native brook trout for stocking in local waterways to support recreational fishing and educational programs.
🚙 Trip Highlights
|Do you love brook, rainbow, and brown trout? If so, you’re in luck! Recreational fishing is allowed along the Konkapot River at the hatchery AND at the hatchery’s outreach pond. Pro tip: if you’re as obsessed with brook trout as we are (THOSE COLORS, PEOPLE!), then head straight to the outreach pond, where they’re the primary catch.
|This answer is quick and easy: with 148 acres of forested land, you’ll find plenty of trails for recreational use!
|We’re pretty sure this is an animal lovers PARADISE. Make sure to bring your binoculars to this wildlife hot spot and be on the lookout for deer, black bear, bobcat, raccoons, rabbits, turkeys, and possibly an occasional moose!
Impress your group by dropping this bit of trivia: did you know that Berkshire is the only federal fish hatchery that was once run entirely by volunteers?! In 1999, a group of local fish enthusiasts formed the Berkshire Hatchery Foundation and signed a memorandum of understanding with the Service to operate the hatchery until the late 2000s.
|Calling all crafters! Bring along some plaster of Paris and make casts of animal tracks you find along the paths! This might sound labor intensive, but with a paper cup and a little bit of water, this is an easy project. When you get home, you can paint and transform those casts into the CUTEST wall hangings or fridge magnets. Just be sure to respect nature and clean up after yourself, no one likes a trashy crafter!
If you’re heading east before or after visiting the hatchery, you can make a detour to visit Sudbury, roughly 2 hours in the direction of the coast. There lies the Redstone Schoolhouse, which is supposedly where a student named Mary once brought her little lamb. Yep, THAT Mary and her little lamb. Origins of the nursery rhyme are unknown, but a plaque on the schoolhouse indicates this is where it went down.
🎶 Featured Song
With an abundance of critters to be found at Berkshire, the only appropriate song to listen to is Steppenwolf’s “Born to be Wild.”
🧭 Road Map
Before you take off on your most excellent journey to Berkshire National Fish Hatchery, please call ahead for visitor hours and check out their website for even more to do during your visit. You can also download a high resolution PDF of the map!