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Visiting Mount Greylock, the Highest Point in Massachusetts

Traveling has always been one of my passions. I love the excitement of seeing new places and the thrill of experiencing different cultures.

The Veterans War Memorial atop Mount Greylock

The Veterans War Memorial atop Mount Greylock

Mount Greylock is the highest point in Massachusetts, at 3,491 feet in elevation. Tucked away in the quiet northwest corner of the state between the Berkshires and Taconic Mountains, the summit of Greylock and the surrounding network of trails provide an endless supply of scenic views and plenty of hiking opportunities.

This is also the site of the Massachusetts Veterans War Memorial, a stunning 93-foot granite tower that honors veterans of World War I.

Spectacular views from the summit

Spectacular views from the summit

How to Get to Mount Greylock

Mount Greylock is located in the Mount Greylock State Reservation, which was created in 1898. The closest towns are Adams, North Adams, and Williamstown—all fairly small, quaint communities typical of rural New England.

Being located in a somewhat remote part of the state, getting to Mount Greylock from the Springfield area will require about a 90-minute drive. Albany, situated just across the border in New York State is about 75 minutes away. The nearest highways are the Massachusetts Turnpike (I-90) to the south, I-91 to the east, and I-87 to the west in New York.

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There are two auto roads that will get you to the summit of Mount Greylock. The access road from the south is Rockwell Road and is the location of the Visitor Center. From the north, you can take Notch Road. Both roads provide scenic stops along the route and are only open from May through November.

There is limited parking available at the summit, and there is a $5 fee for Massachusetts residents. The fee jumps to $20 for out-of-state visitors.

The Mount Greylock Visitor Center

The Mount Greylock Visitor Center

8 Things to Do at Mount Greylock

There are lots of great opportunities for fun at Mount Greylock. Here are my top eight.

1. Stop at the Visitor Center

A stop at the Mount Greylock Visitor Center is a great way to begin your visit. The Visitor Center is located about 7 miles from the summit on Rockwell Road and has ample parking. The center is staffed and open daily from 9 am to 5 pm (4 pm during late fall to early spring).

If this is your first visit to Mount Greylock, this is a great place to stop and gather information, check out the exhibits, and watch an orientation film about the park. It also gives your first stunning view of the Berkshires, providing a glimpse of the more spectacular views that await you at the summit.

Many Trail Options Available

Many Trail Options Available

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2. Hike the Trails

There are numerous activities to partake in from the summit area. This is a hiker’s paradise, with over 70 miles of trails of various lengths and degrees of difficulty that cater to hikers of all abilities. You can also take a hike on the infamous Appalachian Trail that passes right over the summit.

Visitors can park at various points at the base of the mountain and hike to the summit, or you can drive to the summit and choose from a variety of trails. The Mount Greylock website has an excellent trail map of the area and you can view it here.

To really learn about the history, geology, and significance of the mountain to the local area you may want to consider a ranger-led hike. You can inquire at the Visitor Center about all of the educational and ranger-led activities that are offered.

Perfect spot for a picnic

Perfect spot for a picnic

3. Have a Picnic

As you can see from the photo below, the area around the War Memorial is an open clearing perfect for a picnic or to just relax with a good book while taking in the scenery. On a clear day, you can see for 90 miles and in the fall the landscape transforms into a spectacular sea of color.

The Massachusetts Veterans War Memorial

The Massachusetts Veterans War Memorial

4. Climb the War Memorial Tower

Dedicated in 1933, the tower is a stunning memorial honoring those who died while in service of the country. The tower's spiral staircase takes visitors up 89 steps to the viewing platform and the effort is rewarded with spectacular 360-degree views of up to 90 miles across Massachusetts, Vermont, New York, and Connecticut. Just above you is the beacon, which when lit is visible for 70 miles.

The War Memorial Tower Closes for the winter season.

The Veterans War Memorial atop Mount Greylock

The Veterans War Memorial atop Mount Greylock

5. Pitch a Tent for the Night

Those of you interested in camping can reserve one of the 27 tent sites located at the Sperry Road Campground. Please note that there is no vehicle access to the campground as it is a hike-in-only site.

On Rockwell Road, there is a campground parking lot and it’s about a 1.3-mile, easy-to-moderate hike to the campground. Be forewarned that due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the campground is closed for the 2020 season.

A gorgeous butterfly in one of Greylock summit's meadows

A gorgeous butterfly in one of Greylock summit's meadows

6. Check Out the Wildlife

Animals that may be seen in the park include white-tailed deer, coyote, fox, bobcat, black bear, and the rare moose. Bird watchers will enjoy the over 100 species of birds that frequent the park including hawks, owls, warblers, and thrushes.

The Bascom Lodge

The Bascom Lodge

7. Visit the Bascom Lodge

While exploring the summit area be sure to visit the historic Bascom Lodge. Built in the 1930s, this rustic lodge provides overnight accommodations for thru-hikers or those looking to spend a few days hiking and exploring the area.

The cozy Bascom Lodge

The cozy Bascom Lodge

Rates range from $35 for a group bunk to $125 for a small private room. Private rooms able to accommodate a family are available for $150 per night. The lodge has a common room with a large stone fireplace, an enclosed porch, and a small restaurant serving breakfast, lunch, and dinner. The lodge will also host private parties and weddings, and anyone interested can inquire directly through their website.

A view of Mount Greylock's Veterans Memorial on an overcast winter day.

A view of Mount Greylock's Veterans Memorial on an overcast winter day.

8. Take Part in the Many Winter Activities on Offer

During the winter months, this region of Massachusetts is blessed with an abundance of snow. If you are interested in cross-country skiing, snowshoeing, or snowmobiling, the network of trails around Mount Greylock provides ample opportunity to enjoy the great outdoors.

You can actually ride snow-covered trails all the way to the summit and the Thunderbolt Trail gives skiers the chance to downhill ski over 2 miles from the summit to the base of the mountain.

The Veterans War Memorial atop Mount Greylock

The Veterans War Memorial atop Mount Greylock

If your travels are taking you to the beautiful rolling hills of western Massachusetts, consider spending some time at the Mount Greylock State Reservation. With a wonderful network of hiking trails, a historic lodge, stunning views, and the towering Veterans War Memorial, I think you’ll fall in love with this New England gem.

© 2020 Bill De Giulio

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