Rising roughly 1,000 feet in elevation, Mt. Holyoke
Range State Park straddles the seven-mile ridge that runs from Hadley
to Belchertown. The ridge is a patchwork of state, town and private
lands. Parcels acquired by the state since the 1970's bring the
park to over 3,000 acres. The Notch Visitor Center, located on Route
116 in Amherst, is open daily. Displays and interpretive programs
are available in season. The park's Friends group offers hikes and
programs throughout the year.
The Mt. Holyoke Range formed some 200 million
years ago when lava flowed from the valley floor, cooled and was
upended. More recently, glaciers left their signature, scouring
the ridge's jagged edges smooth in some places, exposing bedrock,
or depositing till, sand, clay or muck in others. Since early days,
settlers used all but the sheerest inclines for woodlots and pastures.
Now mostly wooded, the ridge's steep slopes and east-west orientation
create a number of forest types, including birch-beech-hemlock on
the north side and oak-hickory on the south. Thickets, streams,
ponds, and wetlands add to the diversity. Over 30 miles of marked
trails provide a variety of outdoor experiences including hiking,
walking, viewing vistas, cross-country skiing, snowmobiling, horseback
riding and hunting.
Mt. Holyoke Range State Park is located in central Massachusetts.
From east or west: take the Massachusetts Turnpike (I-90) to
exit 5, Rte. 33 north to Rte. 116 north to the Amherst town line.
For more information