Welcome to Mount Greylock State Reservation, a flagship Massachusetts State Park managed by the Department of Conservation and Recreation (DCR). DCR is committed to enhancing the vital connection between people and the environment fot the well-being of all.
Mount Greylock is a special place, an island in time. Its geologic, natural and cultural heritage is unlike any other in Massachusetts. The highest point in southern New England, the summit (3,491 feet) rises above the surrounding Berkshire landscape, providing dramatic views as far as 90 miles. Acquired in 1898, the mountain was Massachusetts' first wilderness state park. Wild and rugged, yet intimate and accessible, Mount Greylock rewards the visitor who explores this special place.
Subsistence to Conservation
Native Americans encountered the mountain along the Mohawk Trail, a traditional route between the Hudson and Connecticut River valeys. The first farmers to live on the mountain came in the 1760s. As others followed, much of Greylock was cleared for farms and pasture. Visitors to the mountain found both a working landscape and forested landscapes that inspired artists and writers. By 1885, though, so much of the mountain had been logged that local businessmen bought and protected 400 acres at the summit; later they transferred the land to the Commonwealth, creating Massachusetts' first wilderness park.
Things to Do
· Take in the views
· Explore the reservation's miles of trails, some of which are designated for hiking, mountain biking, back-country skiing, snowshoeing and snowmobiling.
· Hike along the Appalachian National Scenic Trail
· Camping at available facilities, accessible only by foot (reservations required in season).
In season (May - October):
· Visit the Massachusetts Veterans War Memorial Tower.
· Enjoy a meal or overnight stay at Bascom Lodge on the summit.
· Discover wildflowers, butterflies and birds.
In the 1800s, Greylock's many streams were harnessed to power saw and grist mills. Its trees provided charcoal, used in mills to smelt iron, melt glass and drive looms. But over-logging caused erosion, leading to landslides. Today, Greylock's forests and rivers have recovered, and the mountain mainly powers the local economy through tourism.
Civilian Conservation Corps (CCC)
During the Great Depression, the Federal Government hired jobless men to upgrade the nation's parks and forests. The CCCs created the modern Greylock park in 1933-41 completing Bascom Lodge on the summit, establishing trails and campgrounds and building the parkway.
From Ocean Floor to High Peak
Greylock's summit is a testament to the immense power of the Earth. The bedrock that makes up western New England was fashioned a half a billion years ago, at the bottom of a tropical sea near where Brazil is today. Geologic forces pushed the stone northward, where it collided violently with other portions of the earth's crust. Compelled to rise, the ocean floor lifted up into a vast mountain chain. Millions of years of erosion have worn away these mountains - except for high points, like Greylock peak, made of hard stone that has resisted the leveling of time.
Forest from the North
Mount Greylock's summit is colder, wetter and windier than its base. The forest at the peak is like those in central Canada - a boreal (subarctic) forest, the only one in southern New England. So dramatic is the change in vegetation that ecologists compare the hike from the bottom to top of Greylock to walking from Pennsylvania to northern Maine.
"Climbing the mountains brings out the joyous, conquering impulses, and places life in sympathetic play with life." - Greylock Commisioner John Bascom, published in 1913
Landscape Above the Clouds
Bascom Lodge (below), completed in 1938 by the Civilian Conservation Corps is part of the National Register Historic District that encompasses the entire summit. The War Memorial Tower (bottom, shown in 1935), is the centerpiece of the park and is the state's official memorial to its war dead.