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The highest peak in Massachusetts is Mt. Greylock at 3,941 feet. I guess you'll have to give this one a go since you'll want to make the claim that you've scaled the state's highest peak. The views from atop Greylock are unbelievable and you can access those views the easy way or the hard way. Drive up the 8 mile road to the summit or hike a rugged section of the Appalachian Trail all the way to the top. Either way, you won't be disappointed. The drive up takes you through thick alpine forest and eventually to fantastic overviews of the valley below. Hiking the Appalachian Trail here feels more like Maine or even Alaska if you let your imagination run wild a bit. Black bears, bobcats, and lynx might outnumber visitors and it wouldn't surprise me to hear that mountain lions have decided to take up residence (but don't worry, you're chances of seeing any of these animals are extremely remote sinc they are nocturnal or wary of people). The terrain is ideal for providing plenty of cover and a wide swath of uninterrupted forest.
If you do decide to hike up to the summit you'll need to be in very good shape. Of all the hikes listed on the site, Greylock is the toughest hike. It would be an all day affair even for a seasoned hiker. If you can do it, the rewards are great. You'll feel like you're in the middle of nowhere or back in the days of colonial New England where American Indians and European settlers met on what was then considered the wild frontier. Stop in at the visitors station at the base of the reservation and grab some maps and scout out the surrounding trials. In addition to an 11 mile stretch of the Appalachian Trial the reservation has dozens of other trails you can explore. If you're leery about hiking the whole thing but looking for a workout, one option is to drive up a good distance and then hike the remaining distance to the summit. This would be a good alternative for those who are new to hiking or not in tip-top shape. For those looking for a real in-depth hiking experience it might be best to camp out at Mt. Greylock for a couple of days and just wander the 50 miles of hiking trails.
As you ascend, the valley below gets smaller and smaller. Some of the views are just amazing and the surrounding towns seem like quaint Swiss Alp villages rather than suburban townships of modern America.
Hiking to the top gives one a sense of real accomplishment and the 360 degree vistas are your just rewards. North into Vermont/New Hampshire, South into lower Mass./northern Connecticut, East towards Boston, West into the Adirondacks of New York State. On a crystal clear day you can see extremely far and because Greylock is so much higher than the surrounding mountains, there is nothing to obstruct the views.
Mt. Greylock State Reservation towers over the North Adams/Pittsfield area. If the natural summit perch wasn't enough, a 100 foot tall lighthouse with an observation deck seals the deal. The War Memorial is fascinating in and of itself and you really should take a few moments to read the story of how it came to be and to appreciate the granite inscriptions and various artwork. People back then obviously were proud of their service to country and the memorial is an amazing accomplishment that probably couldn't be built today due to politics and red tape. After taking in the views, head over to Bascom Lodge for some snacks and relaxation. There's a dining area with wooden chairs/tables, fireplace with lounge chairs, and a gift shop. The lodge was built in the 1930's and the original rustic decor remains. Many Appalachian Trail hikers stay the night in the second floor dorm like rooms that are available for a small fee.
Visiting Greylock on a clear day is key. You'd be disappointed if the weather was overcast. In fact the day these photos were taken, a passing storm that I thought would have passed, lingered on and ruined my chances of snapping off some amazing photos. Oh well, that's just the incentive I need to get back there soon! (Note: The ranger at the visitor's station at the base of the mountain recommended the road vista off of Sperry Road which is a left turn about halfway up the reservation road. She claimed that the views from here are even better than the summit. However, cloudy conditions prevented me from driving down Sperry Road and checking it out. If you have time maybe you can check out Sperry Road first and then the summit.)
My friend Ryan Auge runs www.saddlebacktradingpost.com in North Adams so if you need gear, rentals, shuttle service, a hiking guide, or just advice on what to do/where to go visit his website or call the store. If you go with a group and take one of his tours, tell him you found Saddleback via Berkshire Hiking and everyone in your group will get a free drink and snack. 413.664.2772 73 Main Street, North Adams, MA
Directions: http://www.state.ma.us/dem/parks/mgry.htm : Mt. Greylock website. These directions are taken directly off of the website. Mount Greylock is located in the northern part of western Massachusetts.
From the east or west: Take the Mass Pike (I-90) to exit 2 in Lee. Follow Rte. 20 west to Rte. 7 north. Continue north from Pittsfield to Lanesborough. About 1.5 miles north of Lanesborough center watch for the Mt. Greylock Reservation and Visitor Center signs on the right. Turn right onto North Main St. and follow brown state reservation signs.
From Rte. 2 in North Adams, look for the Mt. Greylock Reservation sign on the left, heading west; or on the right, heading east, just west of the downtown and turn onto Notch Road. Follow Notch Road 9 miles to the summit. Phone number: 413-499-4262
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