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Monday, September 19, 2016

Hiking Mt. Greylock - Massachusetts' tallest peak


On a whim, I decided to make September "Hike all the New England Peaks Month". When the temperatures started to drop and the bugs were gone, I headed to the mountains. Hiking hiatus is over. The first weekend of September brought my first New England hike to Connecticut's tallest mountain summit, Bear Mountain at 2,323'. The second hike (why you are here today) is to the summit of Mt. Greylock, Massachusetts tallest peak at 3,491'. And this weekend, it was the grand slam, up to Mt. Washington, New Hampshires tallest peak. The only three peaks remaining are Vermont and Maine, oh and the hill in Rhode Island. 

But back to Massachusetts.



Farm at the Hopper Road Trailhead 


We really enjoyed this hike.  It was a great loop hike around the mountain starting at an old farm.  The materials (directions, maps, etc) available for the hike were great, online and at the trailhead.  The trail had a lot of signage, but there were a lot of different trails weaving throughout the forest (pay attention to trail signs).

This was a great way to hike a portion of the AT, see a few waterfalls, hike along a river, stop at a few summits, and stop at the main summit.  I loved the scenic overlook at Stone Ledge Vista.  The hike was steep in parts and humid, but overall the elevation was spread out well over the distance.  We had a great lunch at the summit and refilled our water, although we had absolutely no views with the clouds and fog.  We continued on the loop hike but by mile 11 we were a little over the hike and ready to be done.  The last two miles down Haley Farm Trail were steep, and felt like they took forever.  Overall, the trail was beautiful and we were glad to bag another peak, the highest in MA. 
Mount Greylock is the highest point in Massachusetts.   At 3,491 feet. Greylock rises above the Berkshires, and on a good day, the view can be between 60 to 90 feet. Mount Greylock was Massachusetts' first state park, acquired by the Commonwealth in 1898.  Before a state park, the area was farmland between the 1760's and early 1900's.  The mountain is a National Natural Landmark, and on the National Register of Historic Places.  A 11.5 mile section of the Appalachian National Scenic Trail passes through Massachusetts, up and over the peak of Mt Greylock.  

The Mount Greylock State Reservation Visitor Center is at the base of the mountain at 30 Rockwell Road in Lanesborough.  You can reach the visitor's center at 413-499-4262.

While we chose to hike to the summit, driving is also an option. The roads to the summit are open seasonally from late-May through November 1 (weather permitting in the fall). It is a good idea to call first to make sure the road is open if you are planning to drive up later in the season. 

Normally at the summit, you can stop in the Bascom Lodge and visit the Veterans War Memorial Tower. Unfortunately, the Veterans War Memorial Tower on the summit is closed for renovations through 2017. If you are heading to the summit, the Veterans War Memorial Tower will be closed for a while.


If you want to camp on Greylock, you really only have one option.  The Mount Greylock Campground (primitive overnight area) is accessible by hiking only.  Camping fees are charged on reserveamerica.com.  The Sites are great, spread out throughout the old dirt road.  Each site comes with a picnic table, fire pit, and a large bear box.  There are 18 tent sites and 9 group sites. The campground is accessed via hiking in from "Campground Parking Lot" on Rockwell Road via the Campground Trail (1.3 miles, 100') or the Haley Farm/Hopper Road trailhead via the Money Brook and Hopper Trails (2.4 miles, 1,275').  Reservations are required from Memorial Day weekend through Columbus Day weekend (May-October). Call reserveamerica at 1-877-422-6762. click here for more info.   


If you want to car camp (as I did), you have to do it outside the park. I camped about 25 minutes south of the park at Pittsfield State Forest (click here for last weeks post on camping at the state forest). Other car camping spots include Clarksburg State Park, Savoy Mountain State Forest, and Mohawk Trail State Forest.



Distance:  ~ 13 miles round trip
Elevation: 2,400' gained
Trailhead:  Hopper Road
Dogs:  Yes! Some water along the stream but bring water
Kids:  Older maybe  - long distance with steep sections
Trails:  Money Brook Trail to Appalachian Trail (South) to the Hopper Trail to Sperry Road to the Haley Farm Trail (end at the same starting point).
Notes:  Be prepared for bad weather or high wind at the summit (pack layers).  Be bear aware and use bear boxes if camping.  There is water, food and bathrooms at the summit.

DCR Trail Map for the 13 mile loop hike 

There are a lot of trails in the state park, and there are a few ways to get to the summit.  And if you are trying to do some research on which trail to take, don't worry, Massachusetts does an amazing job of organizing all of the information for you.  You can find their trail map online (no, you don't have to buy it or show up in person, you can actually find and print your own version).  You can also find a list of all of the trails with the round trip distances and a rating from easy to strenuous.  They even go a step further, with a list of suggested day hikes combining several trails for awesome loops and even including the routes mapped out, trailheads, lengths, and descriptions.  There are also driving guides, bird guides, safety tips and more, all provided by DCR and included in the "Useful Links" section of this post.  Massachusetts has it going on.  There trails are all well labeled and I felt prepared and organized going into this hike (Thank you DCR!).  After doing some research, I decided to go with hike number 4 on the suggested day hike list, a 13 mile hike to see some of the best sights, Greylock in the Round. 


Farm at the trailhead 

Farm at the trailhead 

Hopper Road Trailhead Parking

Hopper Road Trailhead 

Hopper Road 

Start of the Money Brook Trail 

Start/End of the Haley Farm Trail

Bridge over the Money Book Trail

The trail starts off at the Hopper Trailhead past Haley Farm.  Follow Hopper road to the end and look for the dirt parking lot and trailhead sign on the right.  To access the trail, walk right out of the parking area to the end of the dirt road, where the trail begins on the other side of the gate.  You will follow the Money Brook Trail (Blue blazes) for 3.75 miles.  While on the trail you will follow the river, over a bridge and past Money Brook Falls.  

Signage along the trail

Money Brook Falls

Money Brook Falls is a short detour along the way, named after the gang of counter-feiters who minted coins at the site along the brook in the late 1700's.   After a stop at Money Brook Falls, you will pass Wilbur's Clearing, a spot for thru hikers and backpackers to stop for the night.  After Wilbur's clearing, you will continue on to the junction of the Appalachian Trail (White trail blazes).  

Wilbur Clearing - lean-to, privy camping and bear box 

Wilbur Lean-to

View from Mt. Williams 

Once you hit the junction of the Appalachian Trail (AT) you will follow the AT South towards Georgia (if you want another vista, you can follow the AT north past the side trail to Mt. Prospect vista--a stop at the vista will add 0.6 miles to the hike.  Continue on the AT South for another 3.75 miles.  On the way you down the AT, you will pass the summit of Mt Williams (2,951') where you can stop for a quick break and view.  After leaving Mt. Williams, follow the AT South past another smaller summit Mount Fitch (3,110') where you will pass the road, up a steep section, and cross the road again.  Just a few more minutes on the trail before arriving at the summit, marked with a large lodge and monument. 

Following the Appalachian Trail South 

Following the Appalachian Trail 

Olive on the trail 

One point where the trail crosses the road 

Steep part of the trail before crossing the road near the summit 

We arrived at the summit covered in clouds, with a visibility of about 20'.  The war memorial loomed in front of us, covered in clouds and fog and construction equipment.  The structure is the Veteran's War Memorial Tower, dedicated in 1933 to honor Massachusetts men and women who gave their lives in the time of war.  The tower is closed for renovations through 2017 however, you can normally climb the 92 foot tower for even better views from the highest point in Massachusetts.  The US Department of the Interior designated the summit area above 3,100 feet as a national Historic District.  

Memorial Tower under construction at the summit 

Bascom Lodge in the fog and clouds 

While the tower was closed for renovations, the lodge was thankfully open.  The Civilian Conservation Corps (CCC) built the Bascom Lodge between 1933 and 1937 using native Greylock schist and red spruce and oak.  We entered the lodge and I swooned at how lovely the lodge was.  You walk into the main sitting area where you can find bathrooms, a large map of the AT and a hiker log.  There is an adorable sitting area with a fire place, and to the left, the check in desk, a small store and the restaurant.  We tied Olive outside and entered the restaurant to get something for lunch.  The menu was small but we decided on a caramelized onion and apple grilled cheese, a burger, and a soup to share.  The food was fantastic and there is nothing like a hot meal at the summit almost nine miles into a hike.  We agreed that warm apple and blueberry crisp with ice cream was the perfect way to end the meal before continuing our loop hike down the AT South.   

View from Greylock on a clear day 

Bascom Lodge 

Lobby of Bascom Lodge 

Restaurant at Bascom Lodge 

After leaving the summit, follow the AT South for 0.5 miles before taking a right onto the Hopper Trail.  Follow the Hopper Trail for 1.2 miles to campground and Sperry Road.  You will follow Sperry Road, the dirt road leading through the campground until you reach the fabulous lookout at Stone Ledge Vista.  Take a break at the vista before taking the Stone Ledge Trail for a few minutes (0.1 miles) to the Haley Farm Trail.  This is when the hike will feel quite long as you follow the steep Haley Farm Trail 2.2 miles.  The trail will cross a field before joining back with the Money Brook trail for a few minutes and exiting through the gate, bringing you back to the parking lot. 


After the summit- following the hopper trail to sperry road campground 


signs of fall 


Following the Hopper Trail again 


Sperry Campground (hiking in only) 


Sites at the Sperry Campground 


View from the Stone Ledge Vista 


Bear box at the Stone Ledge group site 


Coming down the Haley Farm Trail by the parking lot 


Back to the start of the trail, where Haley Farm Trail meets Money Brook Trail again 
Oh what a hike.  The elevation was enough to make you feel challenged, but was manageable.  The distance definitely felt long and after about 10 miles I was ready to be home.  Those last two miles down the Haley Farm trail are treacherous, be warned.  If you want a quick way to get up and down the mountain, this isn't it.  If you want a long scenic route, this is the perfect trail.  Past waterfalls, scenic vistas and summits, along the AT to the summit.  Another New England peak in the books.  

Mt. Greylock State Reservation Site - main website 
Suggested Hikes - suggest day hikes 
Trail Map (download and print) - print and bring 
Summit Hikes - Suggested hikes from the summit of Mount Greylock.
Greylock Glen - Detail map of trails and trailheads in Greylock Glen, Adams.
Taconic Trail State Park and Phelps Trail Detail map of trails and trailheads for Taconic Trail State Park in Williamstown.
Mt. Greylock Area Driving Map - Showing main roads and access to points of interest around the mountain. Use together with Places to Go
Winter Safety Tips - Suggested guidelines provide safety precaution information for day-use winter recreation.
Bradley Farm Self-Guided Trail - Explore the 19th century farming history of the mountain along this easy 1.8 mile-long interpretive trail.
Birds of Greylock Guide & List - Discover a wide variety of bird species within four different forest habitats.
Wildflowers of Greylock Find a diversity of flowers and varied period of flowering due to extreme variations in altitude, climate and soils found here.
Download printable version of Campground Map
Hunter Access Map




4 comments :

  1. Yay, good job! I can't believe how green it still is there! -Alicia @ www.girlonahike.com

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Complete opposite of Utah, you guys get the greens so early we get them and keep them so late!

      Delete
  2. you and your amazing hikes! love it!

    xo welltraveledwife.com

    ReplyDelete

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