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Thread: MA section hike

  1. #1
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    Default MA section hike

    I'm doing the Massachusetts section of the AT later this summer. About 90 miles. Any thougths about this section of the trail from those that have done it? Enough water sources? Best sections of the trail for views? Best resupply locations? I've hiked pieces of it, mostly around Mt Greylock, nothing in the southern section. Thanks!

  2. #2

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    Massachusetts was my first section hike,in 2005, and I did it northbound in a beastly hot July. The mosquitoes were horrendous south of Great Barrington and at the Shaker campsite (and I am not usually all that bothered by them). Water wasn't an issue. You will encounter other hikers going in the opposite direction; take the opportunity to inquire about water sources, shelter conditions, bears, resupply or other concerns. That way you will get up-to-date info.

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    I've heard about the mosquitoes near Great Barrington. I'm trying to work out how many day's food I need to carry from the CT/MA border. The trail seems to skirt Great Barrington by quite a bit, and doesn't go through a town until Dalton, which looks to be about 5 days into the hike.

  4. #4

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    don't miss the view from Cheshire Cobbles south of town - very short detour off AT with a great view looking out over Cheshire to where you are headed (if nobo), or where you came from (if sobo). Also highly recommend the Father Tom campsite in Cheshire by the town highway dept (turn at the plow!). For a break or overnight, it is such a great service the town provides here and volunteers keep up - water, bikes & helmets for getting around town, charging station, porta-john, garbage/recycling cans, lawn for camping and a bear box.

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    Thanks, will check out the Cobbles and the Cheshire campsite.

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    Quote Originally Posted by soboyle View Post
    I've heard about the mosquitoes near Great Barrington. I'm trying to work out how many day's food I need to carry from the CT/MA border. The trail seems to skirt Great Barrington by quite a bit, and doesn't go through a town until Dalton, which looks to be about 5 days into the hike.
    It does skirt Great Barrington on both the south and east, but in both cases you are crossing major roads (US 7 to the south and MA 23 to the east) which are heading towards town, so you may be able to access a ride (either planned or not). Both have supermarkets easily accessible (Price Chopper from Route 23, Big Y from Route 7).

    A bit further north, you cross US 20 outside of Lee (just past the bridge over the Mass Turnpike), and there is a Big Y south of downtown Lee that 20 leads right to (and the outlets, not that those might be much help, but they do have food options for a meal).

    Unfortunately, while you do go through Dalton, there is no major store there (just convenience stores and maybe a local market - haven't been there recently), though again you are crossing MA Routes 8/9, which head for the outskirts of Pittsfield where there are both Price Chopper (Market 32) and Stop & Shop stores not too far from each other (and a Walmart, though it is in the plaza with Price Chopper so it may not be as fully grocery as many).

    Also, don't forget there is no direct access to the MA/CT line (unlike the CT/NY one) by road, so you have to look for side trails (as I remember, most come off MA Route 41, though there is one in the Mount Washington State Forest off East Street, just harder to get to by car). Certainly not impossible to do, just may add a mile or two to get to where you want to start (so add that in for calculating distance).

    Plus, the one stretch down Jug End, part of which (headed north) is like a staircase down with some pretty large steps, so that may take a few extra minutes, depending on your comfort with such terrain.

  7. #7

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    Ditto on Father Tom camp site, super service there.

    Upper Goose Pond shelter great for a swim on a hot day. And pancakes in the morning!

    The rock shelves just south of Jug End are a great spot to look out over the Barrington lowlands.

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    Thanks for the resupply and logistic info. Very helpful. I'd like to keep my pack as light as possible so maybe a resupply in GB, or Lee. I'll have to look at the mileage and see what works best. I did hike up Jug End many moons ago, I remember it being a nice rocky ridge with views.

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    I'd consider starting at Salisbury, CT which is maybe 5-6 miles south of the state line. There's a big trailhead parking lot at CT 41 where it should be safe to leave your car. There are numerous great views along that first part from south of Riga Shelter to around Jug End.

    I'd also consider stopping at Williamstown/North Adams. There aren't any easy access points between MA 2 (4 miles south of the state line) and VT 9 (14 miles north of the state line).

    Lee, MA is about halfway and it's pretty easy to get a ride into town there. The Berkshire Lodge is like 0.1 mi from the trail at US 20. It's hiker friendly and cheaper than most other lodging options in MA.

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    If you stay or go near the Cheshire site, check out Diana's Twist (food and ice cream)

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    Starting from Salisbury makes sense, it will be a good point to pick up from, or finish, when I do the CT section.

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    Diana's Twist is a definite!

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    I didnt read all the comments but...
    I did Mass nobo, took me 4.5 days
    It was real hot....REAL hot

    I would say that Dalton would be a good resupply spot however there are several on trail resupply resources....I think i kept 3 days food on me thru mass, could have done it with 1 if I was willing to eat out of the delis and do a little more hitching.

    The southern 13ish miles or so are going to be your toughest for the state, I started in Salisbury, CT and headed nobo. Lions head, becket mtn and another.....3 summits total in that 13ish miles, after that your smooth sailing imo until greylock....it was time consuming to the summit...but it was a great climb.

    I suggest getting a bed at the lodge on top of greylock, I stayed there without prior reservations. There is some sort of shelter(not an AT shelter) on the north side of the summit, some thru hikers stayed there and ran into trouble with a local that night.
    Trail Miles: 5,154.2
    AT Map 1:
    ✔ | 13-21'
    Sheltowee Trace: ✔ | 20-23'
    Pinhoti Trail: ✔ | 23-24'
    Foothills Trail: ✔ | 24'
    GSMNP900: 134.7(17%)
    AT Map 2: 279.4
    CDT: 210.9
    BMT: 52.7

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    Thanks Gambit. I'll be starting cold from Salisbury so probably won't be doing 20 mile days, closer to 10 for the first few days probaby.
    Bascom Lodge on Greylock is a great spot, good food at the lodge restaurant. Will go for the bunk room at Bascom Lodge.

  15. #15

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    I pulled my maps out...

    Salisbury NoBo you have a 3 mile climb up to Lions head, then bear mtn, then MT race and MT Everett. Beckett is north of Goose Pond.

    I believe I stayed at Laurel Ridge Campsite on night 1. I had a terrible flu that trip I was gifted during my overnight stay in the Newark airport so your results may vary but that first 15 miles of that trip really kicked my butt. It was also in early September during a heat wave, I bailed at goose pond road. 46 miles with no food due to flu in 95* temps was brutal....

    My second trip to finish Ma started at Goose Pond Rd and headed NoBo again and ended at Hanover, NH. Loved that trip a lot.

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    This past weekend I caught the nasty cold/flu that is going around here, so I can sympathize, I wouldn't want to be out section hiking right now. That start in CT does look tough. I am considering doing an in-state flip flop. Start in Dalton and hike South to get my hiking legs on relatively easier terrain before hitting bigger hills. Then do the Northern section over Greylock to RT 9 in VT.

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    Quote Originally Posted by LittleRock View Post
    I'd also consider stopping at Williamstown/North Adams. There aren't any easy access points between MA 2 (4 miles south of the state line) and VT 9 (14 miles north of the state line).
    Lee, MA is about halfway and it's pretty easy to get a ride into town there. The Berkshire Lodge is like 0.1 mi from the trail at US 20. It's hiker friendly and cheaper than most other lodging options in MA.
    If anyone wants to complete that last section and is being picked up, there is a trail called the Pine Cobble trail that hits the AT a bit over a mile from the VT/MA line - that would allow for about an 8 mile out/back with only that mileish (OK 2 miles going both ways) being actual repeat. It comes out a bit more into Williamstown, but there is a small area there for parking (not sure about more than just during the day).

    There are a couple ways to "sneak" legally into the AT via side trails at the southern end.

    One is from the Washington Mountain State Forest, there is a small trail on East Road just about at the state line that curves towards Bear Mountain but intersects it below the top, so you are only hiking downhill into Sages Ravine, then along - that eliminates much of the harder trail from Salisbury (with both Lion's Head and Bear Mountain), but then you'd have it for another hike, so not sure if it is any easier.

    The other comes off Route 41, somewhere north of the access in Salisbury, and as I remember you kind of start up onto Bear but then there is a trail that basically goes "around" it, so you aren't climbing the whole thing. Trying to look it up but I can't remember what to call it to get the information

    Going to Gambit McCrae's reply - the shelter to the North of the Greylock Summit is called Wilbur's Clearing - it is one of the older (small, like 8 max) ones (unlike many of the MA ones that have a loft and could fit 20 if need be), and it is just a small bit off the AT. Can't say we ever had any issue there, but that was a number of years ago so it certainly can change

    Also to note - the climb from Sages to Everett (over about 5 miles) is only a couple hundred feet more than the descent (heading north, or climb heading south) from Bear to Sages in about a mile.

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    I think it is Undermountain Trail that starts at a trailhead on RT 41 1-2 miles South of the MA/CT border. It looks like the main trail goes over Bear MT but a side trail skirts Bear meeting the AT North of Bear.
    Last edited by soboyle; 06-13-2024 at 08:23.

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    Quote Originally Posted by soboyle View Post
    I think it is Undermountain Trail that starts at a trailhead on RT 41 1-2 miles South of the MA/CT border. It looks like the main trail goes over Bear MT but a side trail skirts Bear meeting the AT North of Bear.
    Sounds like what I was thinking of

  20. #20

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    It really depends how closely you want to follow the AT. I think Bear Mountain is worth the effort with some big views on the way up and down the other side which can be spectacular if the weather is with you. However, there are two ways to skirt Bear Mountain completely.

    One way is to climb the Undermountain trail to the intersection of the Paradise Lane trail that will take you north and connects with the AT just west of Sages Ravine. This can be an attractive route if the weather is poor. The other way to skirt Bear is to take the Undermountain trail to the AT, turn north toward Bear Mountain and about 100 - 150 yards there is an access trail leading west to Mt Washington Road. A brief road walk north to a parking area there is another access trail heading east that skirts Bear Mountain and drops you just west of Sages Ravine (a few dozen yards west of Paradise Lane intersection).

    From there the AT takes you over Race and Everett Mountains where you'll dismount the plateau at Jug End. At this point the AT heads towards Greylock along a relatively tame trail (which fairly describes most of the AT in MA between Jug End and Greylock), with some nice scenery exceptions along the way. Bugs are out and will remain a steady presence through most of MA given the terrain, but should not be a problem with some bug juice. Water should not be too much of a problem either, though I would absolutely filter it given the beaver activity upstream or in their ponds, the deer population and grazing livestock that can be uphill of water sources. Water on Greylock can be iffy at times thought right now its probably not too difficult to find. You should find water at Crystal Mountain campsite that can carry you through to the Noepel Shelter on Greylock where there should be water. I think Bascomb Lodge has water at the summit. I would start asking about water as you approach and move through Cheshire.

    Good luck!

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