On a clear day, the 3,491-foot summit of Mount Greylock offers panoramic views as far as 90 miles in all directions. This short but breathtaking byway travels from open farmland in Lanesborough, through the forested Mount Greylock State Reservation, to the contemporary arts mecca of North Adams.
The byway is most accessible from late May through mid-October when the parkway that meanders through the reservation is open to vehicles, but 70 miles of trails are open year-round to hikers, birdwatchers and back-country skiers. There are dozens of trails and spurs, including a portion of the Appalachian Trail, so you can hike all the way to the summit or take a short side trip to experience the forest up close. The visitor center at the southern end of the byway is a year-round destination in itself and features exhibits on the cultural and natural history of the mountain. Park staff can point you to hiking hotspots like Stony Ledge and accessible views like the Adams Overlook.
The parkway makes the summit easy to reach for all visitors, regardless of mobility. At the top you’ll find the rustic stone and wood “parkitecture” of Bascom Lodge, built in the 1930s by the Civilian Conservation Corps (CCC). The highest point in the park and its most iconic structure is the 1932 War Memorial Tower. A circular staircase winds up to the top of this lighted beacon, allowing unobstructed views across western New England and into eastern New York State. At the byway’s northern end, the Western Gateway Heritage State Park tells the story of the controversial and dangerous construction of the Hoosac Tunnel, one of the greatest engineering feats of the 19th century. The Gateway to Greylock Museum is also part of the park, and provides a short introduction to the mountain.
The CCC also built the Thunderbolt Ski Trail in 1934. In just under two miles, the trail drops 2,000 feet from Mount Greylock’s summit to its base. Championship downhill races were held here through the late 1950s. Today, as long as there’s enough natural snowfall, an annual ski race draws scores of brave souls and hundreds of onlookers.
Not only is Mount Greylock the state’s highest point and its first wilderness state park, it’s also home to an ecological system found nowhere else in southern New England. The elevation and climate have given rise to such a variety of ecological zones that traveling from the base to the summit is like traveling from the hardwood forests of Pennsylvania to the boreal fir and spruce forests of northern Maine in less than an hour.
When you’re ready to leave wilderness behind, you’ll find some of the Berkshires’ best arts destinations within easy reach. At the northern end of the byway is North Adams, home to the Massachusetts Museum of Contemporary Art, which opened in 1999 on the transformed campus of the former Sprague Electric Company. In summer, the City of North Adams sponsors DownStreet Art, an event that highlights art throughout the city’s museums, galleries and shops.
For additional information about activities, events, accommodations and more, visit our partners.