Mt. Greylock is back in business

 
LA Times | Travel
 

There was a traffic jam on Mt. Greylock when the road to the summit reopened this spring. The popular Scenic Byway had been closed for a two-year rehabilitation project that improved guard rails, surfacing and signage and restored much of the masonry that dated to the days of the Civilian Conserv...


By Susan Spano // 07.06.09
 

There was a traffic jam on Mt. Greylock when the road to the summit reopened this spring. The popular Scenic Byway had been closed for a two-year rehabilitation project that improved guard rails, surfacing and signage and restored much of the masonry that dated to the days of the Civilian Conservation Corps. Now it's smooth sailing along the 16.3-mile route that takes motorists to the summit while crossing 12,500-acre Mt. Greylock State Reservation in northwest Massachusetts.

The 3,491-foot Greylock massif is a shrimp next to California's 14,494-foot Mt. Whitney and Alaska's 20,320-foot Mt. McKinley. Nevertheless, it is one of America's greatest mountains.

It would have seemed an Everest when Massachusetts Bay Colony soldiers and settlers pushed west in the 1750s and 1760s. Henry David Thoreau tested himself on the mountain in 1844, and author Herman Melville is said to have seen the profile of his white whale while looking at Greylock from his window in nearby Pittsfield.

The iconic peak has rare stands of old-growth red spruce and examples of sub-alpine forest more common in the Canadian north. A dozen miles of the Appalachian Trail meander across it, and the whole summit area -- with its 92-foot Veterans War Memorial Tower and fine conservation corps lodge, set to reopen this summer -- is a National Historic District.

Driving to the top has become a New England rite of passage, providing 80-mile views on a clear day and some of the region's best fall colors. But the colors are fine in mid-summer, too, with birch, maple and pine clothed in shades from the green side of the palette.

The road is open to cars from mid-May to mid-October (unless a foot of snow falls before then) and stays open all winter to cross-country skiers.

When restoration work at Bascom Lodge is complete, there will Stickley furniture and rustic Arts and Crafts decor, a cafe serving light fare and family-style dinners and eight guestrooms with shared baths. For more information: www.bascomlodge.net.

Mt. Greylock State Reservation: (413) 499-4262, www.mass.gov/dcr/park/mtGreylock.

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