Three-mile ridgeline trail over dramatic cliffs to Spruce Hill, offering outstanding hiking, snowshoeing, views and birdwatching during raptor migration. The short 1.5 mile roundtrip loop to Sunset Rock is a fine alternative for those without the time or stamina to get all the way to Spruce Hill. Alternative: spot a car and descend Spruce Hill via the Busby and/or Blackburnian Trail.
Sunset Rock: 1.6 miles roundtrip, 1.25 hours, easy
Spruce Hill: 6 miles roundtrip, 4 hours, difficult
Special features: High elevation long views: prepare for the sublime! Cool rock cliffs formed by “glacial plucking” with trees twisted into fantastical forms by wind and ice. Blueberries at Sunset Rock and open ledges near Spruce Hill in summer. Awesome spring snowshoeing. Migratory raptors in fall, great viewing at Spruce Hill. Views over North Adams, Mount Greylock, and Florida State Forest.
From Pittsfield: Take Route 8 North, at the Cumberland Farms in North Adams, take a right onto 8A. Then take a right, heading east on Route 2. The trailhead parking is on the right after the Wigwam Cabins.
GPS: 42.6965, -73.0648 (Trailhead parking)
Sunset Rock: The trail climbs in the beginning with series of gentle switchbacks to a junction about ½ mile in. Here you can turn either left or right—both lead to Sunset Rock. Sunset Rock boasts long views north and west.
Spruce Hill: The trail follows a dramatic ridgeline offering several views on both sides of the ridge. On the summit Spruce Hill—take in the 180º westerly view of Mt. Greylock before retracing your steps on the ridge back to the trailhead.
A three-mile long ridge trail along the Berkshires’ northeastern wall, Hoosac Range includes several dramatic vistas, including the one to the west at the trail’s Spruce Hill destination. A much shorter hike, 1.6 miles roundtrip, leads to Sunset Rock, which also has spectacular views to the west.
Native Americans first used the Mohawk Trail (now Route 2) to travel through the northern Berkshires between the Hudson and Connecticut rivers. Today a drive east 4.5 miles on Route 2 from North Adams through the “Hairpin Turn” to the top of the ridge brings you to a unique place known as “the Western Summit.” Just beyond the Wigwam cabins on the same side of the road is a large parking area where a BNRC welcome sign and an information kiosk mark the entrance to the trail.
With unparalleled views from the top of Route 2, entrepreneurs once made this area a popular tourist stop, with a gift shop and cabins. A tall viewing tower meant visitors could climb up to survey New York, Vermont, MountGreylock, the Taconics, and the surrounding state forests. The Wigwam gift shop and several of the cabins, which are privately owned, remain, but are closed.
Purchase and preservation
This ridge defines the eastern horizon in the north Berkshires, and securing it required patience, creativity, negotiating skills, and luck, in the form of landowners willing to sell. Following up on a tip in 2007 from a local citizen that Adelphia Cable was auctioning off its ridgeline parcel, BNRC stepped in and purchased those 193 acres. Over the next two years, five more owners, including the proprietors of the Wigwam, agreed to sell their land. The transactions secured an unbroken 2-mile long tract along the ridge.
The Massachusetts Department of Conservation & Recreation, which owns the SavoyMountainStateForest, purchased a conservation restriction over the entirety. The CR ensured a double layer of protection for the mountain, and helped to eliminate the red ink from BNRC’s $1.1 million spending spree.
Later, BNRC sold the Wigwam Gift Shop and Cabins to a private investor. Unfortunately, plans to restore and reopen this landmark of the hospitality industry have not come to fruition.
With the property secured, BNRC tackled the job of designing, funding, and building a trail along the spine of the ridge that would capture the most fascinating landscape features while appealing to experienced and novice hikers alike.
At a cost of about $145,000, a skilled crew of trail builders working under the guidance of Peter Jensen & Associates, built the three-mile trail from the parking lot to Spruce Hill. This trail comprises a section of the proposed Mahican-Mohawk Trail, a 100-mile path replicating the Native American route.
2. Hoosac Range
3. Basin Pond
4. Stevens Glen
6. Clam River
8. Bob’s Way
10. Housatonic Flats