Mt Holyoke Range Trail is a 12.5 mile moderately trafficked loop trail located near Amherst, MA that features beautiful wild flowers and is rated as difficult. The trail offers a number of activity options and is accessible year-round. Dogs are also able to use this trail.
Round trip 11 mile seven sisters skinner to the notch and back -beautiful and challenging to go round trip -lots of water needed !
Agreed that it is is beautiful and grueling. One word of caution, the trail blazes are not very frequent and there is a big chance that you can stray from the trail from time to time. There are lots of little trail offshoots that, while short and you realize fairly quickly that you made a wrong turn, it can add some distance & time to your planned hike. It probably added 1/2 mile or so to my hike. However, some of the "side trips" resulted in seeing very nice views and so you can't get to upset.
Started hike at the Notch Visitors Center (1500 West St., Amherst, MA). Took the Metacomet-Monadnock trail ("M-M"; white blazes) across the road. Trail begins heading straight up immediately (500' of elevation in about 0.6 miles) to the top of Bare Mt. The views from the peaks were beautiful - the day was clear and warm and it felt that I could see all the way to the Vermont border. You don't get too much respite from the ups & downs until you get to the top of Mt. Hitchcock, which for me was 1.55 miles from the start because of the "side trips". Again, appreciate the views at the top of the ridge, since there really is not much to see as you head down the mountains. Made a left onto Mt. Hitchcock trail ("MH; red blazes) and proceeded down hill for about 0.7 miles. The trail is very hard to follow, both because of the infrequency of red blazes, and because the trail generally follows a dried up stream bed which has lots of loose rocks, covered by leaves and tree branches. If you just aim downhill, you will eventually hit the intersecting trail, the Lithia Springs trail ("LS"; yellow blazes). I made a right on the LS trail, which is a generally flat trail - kind of a nice "walk in the park" trail - which is a nice way to relax about the uphills of the M-M trail and the downhill, ankle busting MH trail. Continued about 0.7 miles on the LS until its intersection with the Low Place trail ("LP"; blue blazes) coming in from the right. Proceeded up the LP for about 0.8 miles as it generally rose at a fairly moderate and gradual incline. Very nice forest trail with not a lot of scrambling or difficult terrain. At the top, the LP intersects with the M-M. Be alert at this point as the white M-M blazes are not clear or nearby - you need to look around a bit away from the intersection to find the blazes. I made a right onto the M-M and continued back about 1.4 miles (you will note that the mileage doesn't add up since I made a number of unintended "side trips" on the way out), down & up and down & up and sometimes, down & up & up & up - got to the point that I dreaded the down as I knew that there would be a worse up as payment for the down. The are a number of spots on the M-M where you have to stow your trekking poles and scramble up or down some outcroppings of rock. That was the fun part. At the end of this you get to enjoy a nice downhill walk, albeit it on fairly loose rock and some small boulder outcroppings.
On a scale of 1 (easy) to 5 (strenuous) with 3 being "moderate", I would rate this hike about a 3.75/4.0 - there was a lot of ups which were pretty steep, but easily doable. Also, the younger you are the more that this would probably move closer to the 3.5, but now you know that I am not that young. It was a lot of fun, and if I had more time I would have continued further towards Taylor's Notch and Mt. Holyoke - next time.
Beautiful and grueling at the same time. We hiked from Skinner park to the Summit house in about 5 hours. The views were well worth it though.
First hike of the season! Yay
Mt. Holyoke kicked my ass. If you like a good challenge this is for you. My thighs and legs have never hated me so much before. For the far I got, I have a new appreciation for my body. Didn't get to finish the white trail, which is super steep, but I sure do plan to go back and complete it one of these fine days. I’d recommend starting as early as you can if you plan a long hike, bring lots of fluids and a few snacks for energy, invest in a good pair of hiking shoes-learned that the hard way and bring a set of hiking/workout gloves or hiking stick.... it gets very steep and if climbing isn’t your forte’ you might need some support from the rocks/ground or rocks.
Mt.Holyoke kicked my ass...I have never felt so defeated by my legs and thighs. For the far I got, I have a new appreciation for my body. I didn't get to finish but I plan to. If you like a good challenge...I recommend this hike. Bring lots of fluids and a snack or two with you as well as climbing gloves/stick. It gets quite steep so you might need some sort of support from the rocks, trees or ground. And get a good pair of hiking shoes...learned that the hard way.
If you start at the right time (early) it's nice and quiet. Sometimes it can be crowded, but I've never met anyone I didn't like. There are usually many dogs, so be prepared, and courteous of others. Doggy parents can be snobby.
Incredible hike with amazing views!Peaks and valleys keep it pretty challenging -Don't go to close to dusk
Hiked up to the Summit House with my 11 and 8 years old girls. There are various trails to get to the Summit House, a couple of steep ones and at least 3 gentler slopes from different entry points. We ascended on the shorter trail that is steep and tedious, descended on a longer trail that has a gentler gradient. There are picnic grounds at the summit so we were able to enjoy the lunch that we've packed in a picturesque setting. As time do not permit, we were only able to visit the Summit House but will definitely return for the notch next time. Driving up to the Summit is also an option, except that the parking spots are limited.
This is my favorite trail of all.. My brother would take me there when I was a teenager.Its a long trail. I am no athlete so it is hard for me to rate. I find it strenuous but doable.Beautiful trail that eventually lead to a large mountain top summit lookout.
I like the fact that it is deep woods and you don't see many others . My favorite place on this hike are the several rock landings that jette out from the mountain where you can rest and just lay out in the Sun with the illusion of be suspended in the air.
I know there are mountain sides that are full rock for climbing straight up as my brother used to do with his bare hands.. Not me..
We hiked from Skinner Mt to the notch. Awesome trail, great views and challenging
I hiked this trail (Section 7 of M&M) from the base of Skinner, off mountain road to the notch and then back again. I must say I thought it was a long, challenging trek, but thoroughly enjoyable. Took me and my dog - stops included - over seven and a half hours. I'm going back this weekend to see how I do now that I know the trail better. You can probably shave off at least 1/2 hour each way if you drive to the Summit house on Skinner and begin your hike there. This is definitely the most challenging local hikes I have encountered, and I enjoy that I don't have to drive far to get this kind of a work out. The Notch visitor center and the Summit house are both closed. The Summit house bathrooms are open however and the Notch has port-a-potties. :)
Recommend taking the white trail (MM) up - its a great uphill hike, great exercise. Beautiful rocks you have to climb mostly vertical. Have to either park in the free area and walk down a dirt road to get there or just know to turn off early from 47 before mountain rd.
Great moderately sized day hike in the Pioneer Valley. There are a few ways to reach the Summit House. My favorite is to park on RT 47 just North of the entrance to the state park (there is a well defined parking area) and to take the blue to red to Halfway House trail to the top. There are really good views of the Connecticut River, Northampton, UMass, and on a clear day both Hartford to the South and Mt Monadnock to the Northeast.
You can come down the same way you came, or do what I do an and take yellow blazes back down to blue. There are a free trails to make subsequent hikes fun, so pick up a map if you want to try something new.
For those brave enough, the seven sister hike starts or ends at the summit of Mt. Holyoke. It's a solid there to four hour hike with a lot of ups and downs, but well worth the new time.
I lived in Amherst for many years and used the trail system extensively. But I've only done the Skinner to notch hike once. It's about a 2.5 hour hike taken at a brisk pace. It's one of those hikes that compels you to finish. No branches or loops back to a paved road that will get you out quicker than finishing. If someone in your group hurts themselves or is unable to continue after you've reach the "point of no return", you're best shot would be to take a branch south. With a wounded hiker, it provides an easy downhill option, no more steep up and down, tallous terrain and you'll run into a cleared trail that provides access to the stretch of high tension wire towers that parallel the M&M trail. Don't be tempted to take this out. It's much easier to find the reservoir and follow the jeep trail out that leads to the east, then T's into a Trail that leads south and the paved, unmarked middle entrance to the park.
If you're solo, you'll be more likely to run across other hikers. There are quite a few trails to the south that offer some good technical mountain biking.
Most traffic mid season focuses on the Notch Visitors Center on Rt.116 and Skinner Mt. Any trips that require more privacy can be accommodated by exploring the South Hadley/Granby side of the park. There is a shooting range north of the Notch Visitors center, but don't be alarmed, you aren't is danger of catching a stray bullet and there are no gun toters in the park, except during hunting season. Please conduct yourself respectfully when if you find yourself on one of the many exits to the park that cross private property. One property in particular posts a no trespassing along with a shot up target over the property line. Looks like a lone wolf living in a camper.
At least pick up one of the maps of the area provided at the Visitors Center (The link shows a map of the east half of the park.) if you plan to stray. It's easy to get lost, especially traveling fast on a bike. The topo on the linked map is too general but includes trail marker #'s which make staying on the right trail easier.
I did this trail today so it is still fresh in my mind. I went with a group of 3 other people and my dog. We have took 2 cars and hiked the MM trail of the 7 sisters ending with Skinner mnt.
It was a very difficult and beautiful trail that I enjoyed however 2 people in our group have that "get in and get out" mentality. I'm not like that, I'm clumsy and I like to enjoy nature so I like to take my time and enjoy the scenery.
As much as I liked the trail I don't know that I would do it again because of gun shots. I'm thinking there's a shooting range near where we started. It was VERY OBNOXIOUS and it scared my poor dog. We couldn't hear it about halfway through but it really ruined the entire first half of the hike for me!