Mount Greylock State Reservation: The Complete Guide

Mount Greylock

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Mount Greylock State Reservation Visitor Center

Address
30 Rockwell Rd, Lanesborough, MA 01237, USA
Phone +1 413-499-4262

Since 1898, when Massachusetts' Mount Greylock State Reservation was established, outdoor explorers have flocked to this dense, 12,500-acre wilderness that sweeps over the highest mountain in the state. Even before then, the 3,489-foot peak in the Berkshire Hills was the object of early conservation efforts and the stuff of legend. It is said that author Herman Melville gazed out his window at Arrowhead and took inspiration for his classic 1851 novel, "Moby Dick," from the hulking, whale-like shape of this high ridge. And those known to have climbed Greylock in the mid-19th century include a who's who of New England authors: Nathaniel Hawthorne, William Cullen Bryant, Oliver Wendell Holmes, Henry David Thoreau, and, of course, Melville.

If you decide to hike the stretch of the Appalachian Trail that climbs over Mount Greylock, you'll be on a path that's been followed since 1929. But it's important to know that the far-reaching views from this high point in the landscape are accessible to everyone, thanks to a paved road that's open from late May through the end of October. Atop Mount Greylock, you'll find an unusual structure: a 93-foot-tall granite lighthouse repurposed as the state's Veterans War Memorial Tower. Placed here in 1934, its 89 steps ascend to an observation deck with views that extend into five states.

In this guide, you'll learn how to make the most of your time on Mount Greylock's summit and its forested slopes.

Veterans War Memorial Tower On Top of Mount Greylock
Kirkikis / Getty Images

Things to Do

Start your trip at the visitor center, located at the base of the mountain in Lanesborough. Open from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. daily, it has exhibits and restroom facilities.

Above all else, you'll want to appreciate the mountaintop views, which extend 70-plus miles in all compass directions on a clear day. Many visitors choose to drive the paved road to the top of Mount Greylock, entering in Lanesborough and exiting in North Adams, or vice versa.

Of course, hiking up Mount Greylock is an exhilarating alternative, and there are several routes to the summit (view trail map). For those looking to see a different side of the mountain, the state reservation is veined with many more trails, including two easy Healthy Heart Trails for walkers and snowshoers that begin near the visitor center.

However you reach the summit, be sure to chillax for a while at Bascom Lodge, the incredible local stone structure built in the 1930s by the Civilian Conservation Corps (CCC). More about staying and dining at the lodge below, but know that day visitors are welcome to use the restrooms, grab a light bite, and sit and share stories with other hikers here.

Mount Greylock Trail Signs
AlbertPego / Getty Images

Hikes & Trails

From trails to the summit to gentle paths around the state reservation, there's a hike for every skill and fitness level. Here are the top hikes at Mount Greylock State Reservation:

  • Thunderbolt Trail: The shortest and steepest climb to the summit, this 4.8-mile out-and-back trek starts out from Adams, M.A., on the eastern slope of Greylock. Park at the trailhead at the end of Thiel Road.
  • Bellows Pipe Trail: Slightly less strenuous than Thunderbolt Trail, the Bellows Pipe Trail is longer at 5.7 miles. The out-and-back hike will take you past waterfalls en route to the top of the mountain. Find parking at the last right on Gould Road in Adams, M.A.
  • Cheshire Harbor Trail: With a gradual incline, this moderate, 6.2-mile out-and-back trail is the easiest hike from the base to the summit of Mount Greylock. Find the trailhead on West Mountain Road in Adams, M.A.
  • Overlook Trail: For those who'd prefer to drive to the summit but still want to stretch their legs, consider heading out on this 2.4-mile, moderate loop trail.
  • Bradley Farm Interpretive Trail: This 1.8-mile hike is a particularly interesting choice for families and an opportunity to witness forest reclaiming farmland.

Of course, you can also hike the stretch of the Appalachian Trail that summits and descends Mount Greylock. This is a difficult route, though, and long. There are several places to park if you would like to hike an out-and-back segment of the AT.

Winter Activities

When snow encrusts this Berkshires landmark, it is a peaceful and strikingly beautiful place to snowmobile, snowshoe, and cross-country ski. This winter use map will show you which trails are available for each of these activities. For skilled skiers, backcountry skiing can also be accessed via the Thunderbolt Trail.

Where to Camp

Mount Greylock State Reservation's Sperry Road Campground (closed in 2021 for renovations) has limited facilities for experienced campers. By advance reservation, accepted only in-season, you may camp at one of 18 tent sites (max of four people) or nine group sites (max of 12 people). Overnight rates are $8 for Massachusetts residents ($35 for groups) and $20 for out-of-staters ($100 for groups). Call the visitor center at 413-499-4262 if you are interested in off-season camping.

Looking for a campground with more amenities? Check out:

  • Mt. Greylock Campsite Park: This campground is located on 47 acres at the base of the mountain in Lanesborough. Choose from 112 RV and tent sites, and enjoy family time at the pool, playground, and stocked fishing pond.
  • Historic Valley Campground: Near the park's entrance, on Windsor Lake in North Adams, is Historic Valley Campground. Here, you'll find 100 lakeside or wooded sites, including some with water, electric, and sewer hookups for RV camping. The lake beach has a snack bar and hosts concerts on Wednesday nights in the summer.

Where to Stay Nearby

A magnificent fieldstone summit house on Mount Greylock, Bascom Lodge is a unique lodging option right within the park. The accommodations are not fancy: Small, simple private rooms and group bunk rooms can house up to 34 guests. All share bathroom facilities, except for the ground floor suite. Much more elevated are the farm-to-summit dining experiences created here by chef John Dudek. The best part? You don't have to book a stay to reserve a table with the most incredible view in Massachusetts.

There are many more places to stay in the Berkshires for all tastes and budgets. Harbour House Inn B&B in nearby Cheshire, M.A. is a lovely option for couples. The freshly renovated, pet-friendly Mount Royal Inn in Adams is a good value, with rooms under $100.

Auto Road on Mount Greylock in Fall
DenisTangneyJr / Getty Images

How to Get There

You can take Amtrak's Lake Shore Limited train from cities like Chicago, Boston, and NYC to Pittsfield, M.A.: The station is 8 miles south of the Mount Greylock State Reservation Visitor Center. Greyhound and Peter Pan Bus Lines also bring passengers to Pittsfield and other locations in the Berkshires region.

If you're driving, the primary entrance to the park is at 30 Rockwell Road in Lanesborough, off U.S. Route 7. A parking fee applies at the summit: $5 for Massachusetts residents and $20 for nonresidents as of 2021.

Accessibility

The paved auto road makes the summit of Mount Greylock accessible to individuals of all abilities. The Veterans War Memorial Tower, however, has many steps to climb. Bascom Lodge is ADA-compliant, and there is one ground floor suite with three bedrooms and a private ADA-accessible bathroom. While most trails are not navigable in a wheelchair, a quarter-mile loop trail at the summit of Mount Greylock is. Call the visitor center at 413-499-4262 with any specific questions you may have about disability access needs.

Tips for Your Visit

  • If you've hiked to the top of Mount Greylock but don't have the energy or the daylight to hike down safely, you can summon a taxi or ride service thanks to the park's summit road.
  • Leashed dogs are allowed to join you on your Mount Greylock adventures.
  • This Mount Greylock fall foliage tip sheet suggests scenic driving alternatives if the auto road is closed due to congestion at the summit, which can happen at peak times.
  • If you're lucky, you may have the chance to watch parasailers in flight from your high perch on the mountaintop.
  • Some hunting is permitted in the park, so hikers (dogs, too!) are advised to wear blaze orange during hunting season, mid-October through mid-May. No hunting is allowed in the three-quarter-mile radius surrounding the Veterans War Memorial Tower.
  • Massachusetts residents only can buy an annual pass, valid for parking in all Massachusetts state parks.
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Mount Greylock State Reservation: The Complete Guide