What’s the highest point in Massachusetts? Why, ’tis the green-skirted, 3,489-foot-tall mountain known as Mount Greylock, my friends! She is well worth visiting on your next New England adventure.
Now, given the success of my earlier article about the easiest way to visit El Yunque Rainforest in Puerto Rico (hint: drive up it), I present to you the easiest way to visit Mount Greylock: Drive up it!
Yes indeed: There is a road directly to the top of Mount Greylock that is open from May through November. Park in the lot at the top for a few bucks, then stroll the paths and drink in the views.
If you have young kids as we do, the road up the peak is particularly good news. It’s hard enough to get a 2-year-old to put on her jacket when it’s freezing out (“NO JACKET, MAMA!” yelled our girl this morning), let alone marching kids on foot up a mountain. Thanks for the road, Mount Greylock!
A major highlight of Mount Greylock is the 93-foot-high Massachusetts Veterans War Memorial Tower. Via a tightly-coiled spiral staircase, you can ascend to the tower’s tip, peeking through windows along the way until you burst forth into the glass orb up top.
See my son’s wee hand on the spiral railing, below? He made it up all those steps just fine! (Our daughter needed to be carried after tarrying over a rock on the ground she wanted to eat, but bottom line: climbing the tower IS feasible with kiddos.)
Ok, so heads-up about the top of the tower… or rather, “noses up”. You see, Mount Greylock is a stop along the 2,179-mile Appalachian Trail hike between Georgia and Maine. What this means is that there is a possibility there may be a “Thru-Hiker” (person hiking the whole trail) or three in the tower’s small observation bubble with you.
Now, while we love Thru-Hikers and honor them for their strength and persistence, we also acknowledge that there are not many showering opportunities on the Appalachian Trail…
“Mama,” yelled our son as we looked out a tower window next to a Thru-Hiker, “what’s that SMELL?”
“Shhh!” I hissed, clinging to politeness, but had to admit that a pungent aroma was indeed wafting from the three gentlemen nearby.
My husband, who’s hiked much of the “A.T.” himself (see how much of the cool lingo I have picked up?) made small talk with the Thru-Hikers while baby Joji tried to lick the windows. I discreetly taught my son how to breathe through his mouth.
So what exactly can be seen from the top of the tower on Mount Greylock? Why, a whopping 90 miles and 5 states! Helpful signs like the ones pictured above adorn each window to clarify what lies to each direction.
The tower is in excellent shape now, and it turns out that this is the fruit of a $2.3 million renovation launched in 2013 and completed in 2017. Look how stunning the entryway’s ceiling is:
Baby Joji let us know by saying, “POOP, DADA” that she needed a diaper change, and we decided to do the deed downstairs, versus adding to the Thru-Hiker perfumes.
Once the girl was clean, we loped down the path behind the tower to explore the overlook. Though we weren’t using our stroller that day, (“NO, I WALK, MAMA!”), a shout-out is due to the excellent accessibility of the Mount Greylock peak path network. Wheelchairs, strollers, or circus wagons would roll along it just fine, so never fear.
Behind the tower, our breath was blown away: a sea of purple wildflowers stretched out towards the blue mountain range. Devi sprinted in circles around the paths.
Fun fact: In the Harry Potter universe, Mount Greylock is the site of the Ilvermorny School of Witchcraft and Wizardry. Was Devi trying to find the entrance?
Speaking of mountains, Mount Greylock is between the Berkshires and the Taconic Mountains in the far northwest corner of Massachusetts. The peak was formed by “thrust faulting”: older rock pushing up through newer rock. (Can we create a hot new dance called “thrust faulting” that becomes all the rage this year? I can see it now…)
So, where to stay if you’re planning a longer visit to the fabulousness that is Western Massachusetts? I highly recommend renting a house around Williamstown (click to see good options via an affiliate link that supports this site at no extra cost to you).
Renting a house is an especially good option if you’re traveling with children. As much as we love cramming 4 people into one hotel room (sarcasm), getting an entire house is a lot more comfortable, and sometimes even more economical than a regular hotel, especially if you add in extended family or friends to share costs.
Another intriguing option for accommodations is Bascom Lodge: a historic building right on the peak of Mount Greylock where you can sleep, eat, and tour.
Clearly, our little Devi wanted to sleep in Bascom Lodge, himself, because he sprawled out on the wall in front, yelling: “I wanna stay heeeeeere! I don’t wanna leeeeave!”
Below is a close-up of that naughty face, seconds before I scooped the little guy up and dragged him back to the car and off the mountain. Can you see his glee from Mount Greylock’s fresh air?
(Yes, I know those sun hats are awesome, and I wish Tuga made them for adults, too. Adult shark hats forever! By popular demand, here’s the affiliate link to browse the hats.)
Another exciting, educational feature of Mount Greylock for the teacher-travelers (and teachers-at-heart) among us: Just below the tower, there’s a hands-on sculpture of the mountain ranges around Mount Greylock!
PSA: If you have a child under 5, he or she WILL attempt to tap-dance on the display. This dancing makes a pretty cool sound, though it was hard to hear beneath the roar of my worry that Devi was about to hurl himself off the edge. (He didn’t. Instead, he decided to start stroking the tips of the metal mountains, cooing, “Ooh… bump-ily.”)
Now for the important question: What is there to eat around Mount Greylock? Well, if you’re up for a little drive, check out this delicious restaurant in Williamstown. It even has a playground!
What about cultural attractions around the mountain? Do NOT miss MASS MoCA: the famed North Adams modern art museum in a giant former factory that’s ideal for kids to sprint around (a.k.a. tire themselves out for a hearty nap).
Another gem is the Clark Museum, a classic, classy art museum in nearby Williamstown. In short, Mount Greylock can provide the nature and views, and its close neighbors pitch right in with food, fun, and enlightenment.
Now, for a travel flashback moment. Do places you visit ever remind you of other spots? Regarding the next photo, I must share that the way the sun sparkled against the stone wall above the overlook in that moment took me right back to our visit to the Cliffs of Moher in Ireland.
Massachusetts has a big Irish population. Perhaps some of the original settlers were drawn to green hills that reminded them of home?
As we drove down Mount Greylock, our family pulled over several times to lap up the scenery. The views from the road down are as delicious as the views from the top! Check out the photo, below. Don’t you just want to nuzzle up to all that fuzzy blue and green?
A massive THANK YOU to all the people who work so hard to maintain the natural beauty of Mount Greylock, and to keep it accessible to all. We appreciate it, and will be back again soon!
Do check out the official Mount Greylock website for great resources like trail maps, campsite reservations, and hours.
So what about you? Have you been to Mount Greylock? What was your visit like? If you haven’t been, does it appeal? Do share!