Winter Hike at Mt. Tom State Reservation in Holyoke MA

  • December 30, 2012 · 9:00 AM
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Looks like we are going to have snow and a major winter hike!

The exact length and path covered on this hike will depend on the weather and trail conditions but we will gain a few hundred feet of altitude. We generally plan to hike up to the ridge and follow it from a north-east to south-west direction. If there is something like 8 inches or more of snow we will likely snowshoe our way (please bring snowshoes as there may be enough snow, especially on the ridge). We'll hike no more than approximately 7.5 miles with less being the case if conditions require more effort given a 6 hour window for hiking. More than likely we will do around 6 miles. Most of the hike is estimated to be moderate-high in difficulty with some opportunity for high exertion. Streams, forest, and quiet solitude will dominate the hike.

Mt. Tom State Reservation is a little Northwest of Springfield with 2,082 acres with 20 miles of hiking and walking trails; cross country skiing and ice skating on Lake Bray. Mt. Tom boasts an unparalleled view of the Connecticut Valley north and south, the Berkshire mountains to the west and the Pelham hills to the east.

Those who wish to go need to have:

* A daypack - To carry extra layers of clothing, gear, trail food, and water.
* Waterproofed warm hiking boots or comfortable winter boots only
* Wool socks - To keep those feet warm even if wet.
* Layers of clothing - Avoid cotton as it stays wet/cold. Don't forget legs get cold too.
* Gloves 
* Gators (or snowpants) - Strongly suggested, to keep snow out of boots and keep legs dry. 
* Jacket - BRIGHT color best (white isn't good)
* Hat - 20% of heat lost through head! Protect ears too.
* 2 quarts of water 
* Hiking poles (or snowshoe poles) - For better stability
* MicroSpikes (or other traction device) - strongly urged to get through icy areas!
* Trail appropriate food/lunch - (e.g. at least G.O.R.P -Good Old Raisins and Peanuts, beef jerky, granola bars, etc.)

Advised/optional equipment depending on conditions:

* Snowshoes - May help a lot on parts of ridge.
* Fanny sled -for those inclined to fun!
* Headlamp - Just in case

The jacket shouldn't be too heavy as other layers of clothing should add to your insulation to keep warm and layers would be added or removed as needed. While hiking you WILL be hot but if you stop you WILL get very cold after about 15 minutes and thus need more dry layers added. Please note it tends to be windy and sometimes icy on the ridge.

The meetup will be at 9 AM at the parking area at the main entrance by Lake Bray (see the park map). Directions are below. We will hike (with rest stops and sightseeing) about 6 hr. and get back to the vehicles at about 3 PM. Then the plan is to head out to eat an early dinner together. We would finish up eating at about 4:30 PM and head home.

Kevin S can provide carpooling for up to 3 from the Wal-Mart in E. Windsor ***leaving*** at a 8 AM for those interested (see location below). There will be a silver Ford Escape SUV. Please chip in for gas and the drive takes an hour. Return at about 5:30 PM. If no one tells Kevin they wish to carpool, he will not stop at Wal-Mart carpool location.

Approximate location/directions to meet at park parking area (50 Reservation Rd, Holyoke, MA):

Location/directions for the carpool meeting location (Wal-Mart, 69 Prospect Hill Rd, East Windsor, CT):

Park map:

Mt. Tom State Reservation information:


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  • Kevin S

    Changed the hike to stay off the ridge where high winds and drifting were. Snowshoed mostly areas of the Reservation I haven't explored before.

    December 30, 2012

  • Kevin S

    As it stands now, as far as I know right now, no one needs me to meet them at the E. Windsor carpool location so I will not stop there in the morning.

    December 29, 2012

  • Kevin S

    Weather update (Sat. 9:55 PM): Lots of snow coming down. At my place in north-central CT I have 5 inches already of fresh snow. I'm expecting 6 inches of snow added to the base already on the mountain. Winds of 15 to 20 MPH are still expected to be a significant factor blowing snow into drifts and producing a windchill which will make it feel like 10 F when exposed. The actual air temperature will be about 23 F. On and near the ridge will be the highest winds, deepest drifts, and toughest conditions. About half of the hike as originally planned will be on the ridge. I may make adjustments to where we hike on the mountain depending on conditions found and state of our team. Head, face, and hand protection is essential in these conditions. I strongly recommend snowpants and wind proof jacket. Layers for warmth and adjustment for heat and moisture control. Snowshoes look to be essential. Microspikes (or crampons) should be along too for areas snowshoes won't work. CALL TO CONFIRM GOING.

    December 29, 2012

  • Kevin S

    Weather update (Sat. 2:30 AM): Snow will happen Saturday afternoon to past Midnight and maybe add 3 inches to base before winds affect things. Sunday no snow with temps. from 23 F to 26 F. Winds will be a significant thing to contend with. Winds will be around 21 MPH from NW most of the day and maybe higher at the ridge. Other than being at the ridge, we should be sheltered from a good deal of the wind on the leeward side (south-eastern side) of the mountain. Significant drifting of powdery snow can be expected especially at the ridge. Multiple layers of clothing available, face & ear protection available. Gloves a must. Microspikes (or other dependable ice traction device) required as will be icy spots. Snowshoes availability strongly urged. Snowpants or gators essential. Will update forecast Saturday night.

    December 29, 2012

  • A former member
    A former member

    This is my neck of the woods (pardon the pun lol)! However, this Sunday I'll be in Mt. Tom is beautiful, enjoy!

    December 27, 2012

    • Lisa H.

      Hi Theresa, I have been to Mt. Tom at least 16 times. grew up in Longmeadow. see you around! rocky area too w/ nice paved road.

      December 28, 2012

  • Lisa H.

    I will meet at 9am but may not be able to stay the whole hike cause of back issue.
    cool. from enfield ct

    December 27, 2012

  • Kevin S

    Weather outlook: Partly cloudy. Around 21 F to start getting up to a high of 26 F. 12 MPH winds from WNW can be expected when we get to the ridge. Will update weather report late Friday.

    December 27, 2012

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