At 16,500 acres, October Mountain is the largest state forest in Massachusetts. Here visitors can camp, hike and enjoy the outdoors while they visit nearby Tanglewood and other Berkshire Region points of interest. 47 campsites dot a sunny hillside and offer a great base to explore this vast forest. The name of "October Mountain" is attributed to writer Herman Melville, whose view from his home in Pittsfield of these hills in fall impressed him so. The state forest originated from the former estate of William C. Whitney, President Grover Cleveland's Secretary of the Navy. Trails are available for every level of experience, and include the famous Appalachian Trail. One of the most scenic trails lead through Schermerhorn Gorge, a striking natural feature which has intrigued generations of geologists. Countless varieties of wild plants and animals can be found throughout the varied terrain of this vast forest.
did the AT from Washington mountain north 10.xx miles to Dalton, Ma
The trail in this section is extremely easy with very little elevation changes. One viewing point around midway where you can see the Pittsfield State Forest and Mt. Greylock.
Still, a nice walk through beautiful country.
We found some signs as we were on the way to another area before a concert at Tanglewood and decided to go here rather than to the place we'd intended as this location was closer to Tanglewood. We started in a camping area on the southwestern area of the overall state forest. There were a few trails originating in the campground: the Loop Trail, the Ledge trail and the Tamarack trail. We took the Ledge Trail, which was about a 2 mile hike with about 800' elevation over the course of the trail - the steep section was a decline of 600'. It featured gorgeous rocks, streams, waterfalls, and a crossing in a falls area. We had a group of 4, with a couple inexperience hikers, one was 11. The trail is rated as moderate or difficult depending on where you look, and I would agree, though we didn't have any problems with it. Our biggest challenge was that it was very moist and slippery - lots of very wet moss on nearly every rock. But we loved it and had a lot of fun. Took about 2 hours to complete it.
There's no "Washington Mountain Meadow" trail at October Mountain SF; I'm guessing whoever created this entry meant the Washington Mountain Marsh Trail's inner Interpretive Trail loop, which is officially 1.9 miles. We hiked the Washington Mountain Marsh Trail itself (2.7 miles) as part of a roughly 8 mile track loop, starting from the campground (Ledge Loop Trail->Boulder Trail->Washington Mountain Rd->County Rd->West Branch Rd->Washington Mountain Marsh Trail->West Branch Rd->Navin Trail->Boulder Trail->Ledge Loop Trail). The environs here are gorgeous, but October Mountain SF is not for novice hikers--many of the trails were in poor condition, whether from heavy erosion due to seasonal runoff (Navin Trail) or heavy flooding due to beaver activity (Washington Mountain Marsh Trail). They were also very buggy in stretches. But if you can hack all that--don't miss this place! Hiking along the flooded edge of a beaver dam while its builders darted back and forth just a few feet away, slapping their tails anxiously on the water, was a thrill well worth getting a bit wet and muddy for. We also saw numerous species of birds, especially warblers, and a slew of crimson-orange juvenile Eastern newts making their way overland in search of new ponds. Be sure to allow extra time for your hike due to the poor trail conditions--we usually make about 3 miles an hour, but only managed 2 here. You could probably put together a pretty good hike for less effort by driving to one of the parking lots in the interior (if the access roads are open; call ahead to check) and walking the roads instead--they're unpaved and virtually devoid of traffic. Official trail map here: http://www.mass.gov/eea/docs/dcr/parks/trails/october-summer.pdf. Official trail mileage counts here: http://www.mass.gov/eea/docs/dcr/parks/trails/octmtrailmiles.pdf.