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A LITTLE-KNOWN HIKE IN NORTH ADAMS

In the May 3, 2000 issue of The Advocate, I wrote a front-page article: “New Segment of Mahican-Mohawk Trail makes summit more accessible.”


This is currently the western-most segment of this trail, which attempts to recreate trails in Massachusetts and New York between the Hudson and Connecticut Rivers, much like those once used by Native Americans in this region. As natives had to cross over what we now call the Hoosac Mountain Range to points east, they undoubtedly traveled through these woods.


As I wrote 14 yeaars ago, “This section of the trail runs from the Wigwam Western Summit at the top of the mountain and descends through scenic woods about three-quarters of a mile to the lower Mohawk Trail and the new trailhead.”


The Mohawk Trail is, of course, also known as Route 2. The trailhead is about a half mile down from West Shaft Road on the right as you head north toward the hairpin turn. In fact, the 100th anniversary of the Mohawk Trail is now being observed.


The trail head at that time had a sign and a dirt parking lot.


On Saturday, April 28, 2000, I descended the trail (I had parked below and joined a carpool to the top) with about 10 other people. As I recall, the people were moving pretty fast and the hike did not take a long time.


Over the years, I never did come back and hike the trail from the bottom to the top, as I had intended, though I thought about it once in a while. As time passed, however, the parking area grew in and then the sign seemed to disappear and I gave up the idea entirely.


Then in 2010 I moved to the mobile home park across the street from the trail head. Coincidentally, workers were at this time putting in a real paved parking lot for the trail, hauling in big boulders to create a semi-enclosed space. I just had to hike the trail then, and so I did. What I rediscovered is that, unsurprisingly, it is rather steep in several places. And though it is, as one old sign near the summit says, .84 of a mile from trail head to trail head, it takes a good hour to hike to the top.


Still, this is a good hike and you get the satisfaction of actually climbing a mountain. The trail to the top is a collection of several fragments of trails, some old roads or logging roads (Route 2 once took a different route up the mountain, including through these woods.)


The trail is marked with circular Mahican-Mohawk Trail markers and by oranage and yellow paint blazes on trees. The steepness is compensated for by many switchbacks as you head generally northeast up the mountain. As you rise on the mountain, you gradually stop hearing car traffic on Route 2 below and start hearing it on Route 2 above.


You come out at the top on the northern side of the parking lot of the Wigwam. Don’t be surprised if you hear voices from the parking lot or the observation deck. That the Wigwam has recently reopened under new ownership is a bonus, and on a recent hike I bought a bottle of water from the food trailer there.


Over the years, I have wondered at how few people actually seem to make this hike. I think the steepness has much to do with it, though there are parts of the Appalachian Trail in this area which are as steep or steeper, such as the climb up Mount Prospect in the Greylock Reservation from either the north or south.


I thought the additon of the new Hoosac Range Trail, which starts about a tenth of a mile east down Route 2 from the Wigwam, would add to the popularity of this little segment of the Mahican-Mohawk Trail  but it hasn’t. Yet, some people do use this trail to hike, others to hunt. 


If you decide to give it a try, know that the trail actually starts north of the parking lot. Walk about 20-30 feet inside the guard rail and you will see it descending to the right through the tall grass.

 

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Mark Rondeau - Writer, Editor, Photographer



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Here is the article I wrote for The Advocate in 2000 when the trail was established.
 
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This picture shows the parking lot for the trail on the lower right. The western summit is atop the mountain to the upper left.
 
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This segment of a Berkshire Natural Resources Council map shows the hike up the mountain from lower Route 2 to the parking lot up on the western summit.
 
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This is the sign at the parking lot on lower Route 2. The maple-leaf logo marks some of the trees on the trail.
 
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At first, one heads north through some pleasant lowlands, before the going gets steep.

 

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I took this photo sitting down to show the steepness of the path at this point. The trail has several switch backs to gain altitude.
 
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After several steep sections, you are rewarded near the top by this wide path sloping gently to the northeast.
 
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You'll know you're getting close when you pass under these power lines that supply the summit. 

 

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The last part of the path curves up and around the parking lot of the Wigwam, coming out at the northern end at the point pictured here, where you can see the vehicles whizzing by on their way east on Route 2 atop the mountain.

 

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Here's the sign at the western end of the trail. Congratulations, you have just climbed Florida Mountain!


Next up, hiking the Hoosac Range