It’s pretty tough to shut me up about my love for hiking in the American West, particularly Southern Utah. High peaks, ghost towns, nonstop views. What’s not to love? Only problem is, I don’t live there and don’t plan to anytime soon. I kind of like my favorite playgrounds being on the other side of the country, calling to me every summer. Meanwhile, my reality is New England, and more specifically, Massachusetts. While the mountains aren’t quite as big, the ghost towns are way different, and the views aren’t quite as jaw-dropping, it’s a pretty special place, anyway. Here are a couple of suggestions on how to hike like a Masshole if you ever find yourself in my neck of the woods.
My home away from home is Quabbin Reservoir and Quabbin Park. If you’re a history buff, Quabbin has that, too. Back in the late 1930s four Massachusetts towns were flooded to create a reservoir to service the city of Boston. Today, Quabbin is a spectacular place of secluded beaches, bald eagles, and remnants of lives past.
Many of the old roads still exist and can be classified as hiking trails, making for many days, months, and years of exploration. The cellar holes, stone walls, and occasional artifact make for ghost towns where tumbleweeds won’t ever tumble, but where voices of past residents still whisper. Quabbin is also the largest inland body of water in Massachusetts, and being in the middle of it in a boat is a completely different experience than hiking it. I highly recommend renting a boat. Just don’t expect to dock and hike. That’s illegal, and because it’s drinking water the State Police patrol the reservoir like clockwork. Hike one day, boat the next. Get to one of the three fishing areas early or the boats will be gone before you get to the front of the line. It’s worth it.
This is a pretty good starter article:
Mount Greylock is our highest peak here at 3, 491 feet. On a clear day you can see New Hampshire and Vermont from the summit, and even though it’s below treeline it’s high enough to be several degrees cooler at the top than it is at the bottom. The more challenging trails like the Hopper Trail provide a pretty good workout at 2,500 feet in gain. The Appalachian Trail also passes over Greylock, and chances are pretty good that whatever trail you choose is going to meet up with the AT.
Pictured: the War Memorial, at the summit. Climb the 80 or so stairs and get a 360 degree view of the surrounding hills. Expect several colors of wildflowers in early summer.
Bascom Lodge is a cozy and attractive stone structure at the top of Greylock offering breakfast, lunch, and overnight accommodations that range from bunks for AT thru hikers to private rooms. Just keep in mind that Greylock also has an auto road, so you’re going to see a lot of people that look a lot cleaner than you if you’re hiking it. On my recent haul up the Hopper Trail I looked (and smelled) like the second coming of the swamp thing, but hey, I burned more calories than the coiffed Berkshire set, too.
More information on Greylock can be found here:
And by the way, Greylock may just be the inspiration behind Herman Melville’s “Moby Dick.” Rumor has it that he saw the great mountain in snow and created his most famous character from that image.
Massachusetts is dotted with serene lakes, state forests, and small but pretty mountains, plenty to keep a dedicated hiker busy year round. Sometimes I think I never want to leave.
Then again, did I mention that I need to pack for my eighteen day Southwestern hiking adventure that starts next week?