[masked] if anyone gets lost or...?
Update... The weather for that area is calling for evening showers on Sunday and a low temperature of 34 degrees. You may want to dress in layers and be able to remove your clothing as it warms up. To a point, that is... ;-)
Please RSVP if you are meeting to carpool in Orange, or let Bonnie know if you need a ride from her carpool spot at the 146 park and ride in the Worcester/Millbury area. If you can carpool AND are willing to drive as well, please note that as we may not be able to cram 12 people in the Corolla.!
I chose a date! I also have listed a start time, at the trailhead, for 10am. I'm curious if the majority can, and would be willing to, go earlier? It is an hour and forty minute drive on a normal day. Being a fall foliage day, traffic may be slower. Thoughts?
FWIW, there was no snow in the snow-hole when we hiked in on August 11th so I'm pretty sure there still won't be any the first weekend in October! (But it's the Berkshires, so you never know).
This is a moderate, yet enjoyable "stroll" type hike through the woods. There are a couple vistas along the way, and perhaps the foliage will afford some photo ops along the way?
If all goes well this time (and we don't get drenched through to the skin again), I may plan on stopping at the Moonlight Diner in Williamstown for a bite to eat afterwards.
I'm also open to adjusting the start time for this hike. Last time we started at 10am (headed out around 10:20 actually) and made it back to the parking area @1:45pm (although we huried on the way back due to a silly Tornado Warning). I may consider trying to kick this off an hour earlier. I may not! Feel free to post thoughts about time in the message area.
This "snowhole" is on the border of Williamstown, MA and Petersburgh NY.
Main Attractions: Cave that has ice/snow even in summer, great vistas, hardwoods, side trails.
The locally-famous "Snowhole" is nestled in the portion of the Taconic Mountain Range where MA, NY, and VT come together. This rare, and intriguing geophysical treasure is essentially a 40-50 foot deep bedrock chasm that holds snow and ice well into the warmest summer months, and as of July 14th, 2004 continued to hold a fair amount of ice as it probably has done for thousands or millions of years gone by. If you'd like to really get adventuresome, there is also an explorable cave situated just at the beginning of the descent into the "snowhole" with room for up to a half dozen adults. The small entrance is on your right and is partially disguised by surrounding rocks. Bring your flashlight and wear "Mud clothes" as this cave will require you to get dirty if you wish to explore it. WORD OF CAUTION: Proper caving equipment and practices should be adhered to at all times, and NEVER ENTER THIS CAVE ALONE! If you have an interest in caves, or if you are just looking for a really cool new place to explore this summer, this spot comes with the highest of recommendations!
En route to the snowhole, take advantage of the numerous scenic vistas, and well maintained trail system to make your trip to the snowhole as enjoyable as the destination itself. This trail system is maintained by the Williams College Outing Club as a part of the College's Hopkins Memorial Forest and by the State of New York. The start of the walk from the parking area is fairly steep, but very short, and once you arrive at the small clearing and sign for Hopkin's Forest you have conquered the most difficult part of your trip. From that point you should follow the Taconic Crest Trail, marked by trail markers consisting of a white diamond on a blue square background, over gently rolling terrain for approximately 1-1.5 hours passing the Shepard's Well and Birch Brook side trails along the way. At the end of one of the open areas/scenic vistas you will see a sign that says "White Rocks" and from that point you continue for about 10 more minutes to a side trail on your right leading to the snowhole. Note: Some maps list White rocks much closer to the parking area, but they are inaccurate! These directions have been field checked, and "Berkshire" approved! From this clearing and sign, you will take your next right onto a small side loop that leads to the Snowhole and back again, if you miss the first, you can take the second, or vice versa.
Although there are several ways to access the snowhole, the route I describe here has been selected for it's moderate approach trail, abundance of parking, views, and wild berries, as well as it's simplicity for those of you who may be less than proficient map readers!
This link will show you where we will be hiking. The Taconic Crest trail is on the very left edge of the map, with the snow hole in the upper left corner.
This trail is approximately 3 miles each way. Looking at the topographic map in the previous link, it is more of a rolling hike with not much of an actual climb.
Rt 2 westbound. All the way. I mean it! All kidding aside, you DO want to take Rt 2 westbound until you get to the top of the Taconic Trail at the Williamstown MA/Petersburgh NY border. Parking area is at the old ski area on the LEFT side of the road.
Anybody interested in carpooling or caravaning can meet me at the Orange Wal-Mart on Rt 2A by 8am. If coming from Rt 2 East, take exit 16 and turn LEFT at end of ramp. Drive approximately 2 miles north until you come to a stop light and McDonalds on your right hand side. Turn LEFT on to Rt 2A and follow that about a mile and a half. Wal-Mart will be on your RIGHT. I will be parked near the Garden Center in a silver Toyota Corolla.
For those needing pee breaks, coffee, or gas... If you're coming to the carpool meeting in Orange, there is McDonalds (for pee or coffee) and Cumberland Farms (for gas or coffee) in Athol at the intersection of Rt 2A where you take a left to head towards Wal-Mart. Also, if you take that left onto 2A, about a half mile after the turn on the left is a Dunkin Donuts (for coffee or pee). And finally, Wal-Mart has a toilet if you missed the others! Enroute to the Williamstown area we will pass another McDonalds in Greenfield as well as a couple gas stations. THAT's ABOUT IT until you reach North Adams, which is over an hours ride from there! Please plan your pee, gas, and coffee breaks accordingly! Once you reach the downtown part of North Adams, there is a McDonalds and a Dunkin Donuts side by side on your right. And... I don't think there are any porta-pottys at the trail head, so... bring TP and hand sanitizer etc if needed!!!