November 5, 2016 • Hiking Mount Greylock, the Massachusetts High Point • Adams, MA
One of our favorite parts about living in the NE is that we have SO many cities, attractions, and mountain ranges within 4 hours of home. Having lived in the Midwest and Southwest for so long, this feels like a new and exciting discovery that unlocks all sorts of adventuring opportunities for us. We have obviously been enjoying the Adirondack mountains, which are closest to us, but every now and again we like to branch out and explore a new area. Not only do we enjoy getting to see the surrounding area from a new perspective and location, but we also love driving on different highways and through new-to-us towns and discovering the beauty in these areas.
We have this silly hobby of trying to hike to the highest point in every state among other challenges, so of course we’re looking for ways to knock out as many as we can while living in the Northeast. We were delighted to find out that the highest point in Massachusetts is within 2 hours of our home. Prior to this weekend, this was the only hike in MA that was on our radar. However, once we began driving over the Taconic Ridge on the NY/MA border, and then drove further into the valley and saw more mountain ranges surrounding us, we realized how beautiful this area really is and began wondering what other hikes might be worth doing. (Curtis has since began dreaming big on longer hikes here if we ever have the time and good weather…stay tuned next spring.) I absolutely loved driving through the towns full with that New England charm, especially through the Williamstown College area in Williamstown, MA.
However, the main reason we were here was to hike, so we simply admired all our surroundings as we passed through. Curtis had chosen trails on the East side of Mount Greylock for our hike to the peak, so we drove to the trailhead on West Mountain Road, West of Adams, MA. We drove to the parking lot at the end of the road and prepared for our hike. We felt like we were getting a late start as we set out on the trail around 10:45, but with the trail being only 7 miles round trip, we weren’t concerned about hiking too late. The way I saw it, if we had started bright and early, then it would have been much colder than it already was on this brisk morning.
The trail as a whole was very pleasant and one of the most enjoyable ones we’ve done. We took the Cheshire Harbor Trail up to near the top, where we met up with the Appalachian Trail which took us to the peak. The Cheshire Harbor Trail is wide and well maintained as it steadily ascends through the forest. We were able to hike, have conversations, and hold hands as we walked because it honestly wasn’t difficult by any means. After crossing a bridge over a stream, the trail has a sudden rise in elevation, like a final push to the end, and then you cross the road to the top to continue on the Appalachian Trail. Here, the trail is narrower, and the surroundings go from deciduous trees to mostly pine trees almost instantly. We came across a lovely hidden lake where we noticed a cabin across the way.
After crossing the road one last time, we made it to the high point just before noon! Yes, like many state high points in the East, there is a road that takes you to the top. However, it had just closed for the season that week (beginning of November) so there were only hikers at the peak today. We didn’t find any snow at the top, but it was windy and bitter cold…and cloudy. Of course! This is our 5th state high point that we’ve hiked to this year, and all 5 were summited on very cloudy days! We walked around the monument at the top and tried to find places out of the wind. The buildings at the top were closed, so as Curtis wandered around looking for letterboxes, Charlotte and I sought shelter by going down the slope on the East and hiding behind rocks. As we walked further down this side, I discovered that we actually were able to get a view as the clouds were clearing to the East, so we went and found Curtis and brought him back to enjoy this vista together. We had a nice view of Adams, MA, the mine, and the valley leading up to the Berkshire Hills in the distance. Despite the colors of fall passing, it was really a lovely panoramic view and we were thankful to actually have one!
We decided to retreat to the cabin by the lake to have our lunch, instead of eating with numb fingers at the top. After that, we descended the mountain, content with this very pleasant hike. We could have taken another trail back down that met up with the Cheshire Trail, but since we knew the one we took was so nice and not muddy or steep, we stuck with that. The other one was more on the ridge, so while it would have a better chance of having more views along the way, it would also be more exposed to the wind that we were now doing everything to avoid.
We may have felt like we had a late start by hiking after 10, but we saw far more people hiking up in the afternoon than we did on our hike up that morning. Besides that, I still wouldn’t call this a “quiet” hike by any means — not when we were stomping through and kicking up fallen leaves the whole way! Why are big piles of leaves still so tempting to us?? Who knows, but they made us happy the whole way down. 😉
Once back in our vehicle, we started the long drive back home, but made a couple more stops along the way. One was at an overlook along the Taconic Ridge, where we did a short hike and were rewarded with another beautiful view into the countryside in New York. The other was at a battlefield, which I will let Curtis write about later. All in all a wonderful day and a great start to hiking in the month of November. Now that we’ve experienced how difficult hiking can be in the winter, we certainly won’t be taking easy hikes like this one for granted.
And there you have it folks — our 6th state high point! To read about our other hikes to high points, check out these posts: Arizona//South Dakota//South Carolina//North Carolina//Vermont//New Hampshire