Snowshoeing in Western Mass Part 2!
Even More Snowshoeing Adventures!
In an earlier post, we looked at several spots for snowshoeing in Greenfield and points south. This time, we’ll look more closely at some destinations near Northampton and farther west. Though plenty of places around the Valley offer uncurated snowy tromps, there are spots with curated trails in scenic spots that may be a little harder to get to, but are worth the trouble.
It’s worth noting that most places where you can cross-country ski also offer good snowshoeing. You’ll want to check into ski spots to make sure you know what’s allowed and proper etiquette – a lot of ski trail maintainers ask that snowshoers and hikers keep to the side of ski tracks. That’s true at Stump Sprouts, out in Hawley, which bills itself as a cross-country ski center. This year, trail use is free. The tradeoff is that amenities like ski patrol and indoor warming spots aren’t available. Check current conditions before you go – trail use varies, and also can include snow biking.
If you need a place for your snow-tromping that’s closer to town, there are some likely candidates near Northampton. An easy-to-spot choice is Mount Tom, the ridge whose imposing proximity to Easthampton prompted rumors (sadly, unfounded) that Dr. Seuss based Whoville in his Grinch tale on the town. Its many trails offer year-round recreation, including some good places for a snowshoe outing. It’s a quick trip down to Easthampton, where you’ll find good warming fare along Cottage and Union Streets, including, among others, La Veracruzana Mexican food, and the cozy Shelburne Falls Coffee.
Around Northampton, you’ll find plenty of wintry recreation destinations, many of them smaller and somewhat off the beaten path, but still not far from downtown. Just west of the Florence section of Northampton, there are two quite near each other. Mineral Hills is a former rock quarry. It’s got lots of trails, good views, and the Kestrel Trust (where you’ll find trail maps for Mineral Hills, its neighbor Sawmill Hill, and many more) points out its status as a good place for tracking wildlife, particularly porcupines.
A little to the north lies the Roberts Hill section of the larger Sawmill Hill Conservation Area. It’s got lots of trails and scenic views, and lies quite near the lovely Roberts Meadow reservoir. When you’re done, you’re not far from good refreshment in the center of Florence, where you’ll find, among many choices, standouts like the Florence Pie Bar and the Miss Florence Diner.
It’s again worth noting that the Valley’s embarrassment of outdoor wealth makes any list limited in its scope, so a little searching or asking around is likely to yield a promising crop of even more places to explore. Find your favorite trails today!