It’s not often that you can hike a whole mountain range within a single afternoon—and rarer still that you can accomplish it without ever leaving the grounds of a pristinely managed state park. That’s the magic of Mount Holyoke Range State Park: Encompassing 3,000 acres of forested mountain-scape in Western Mass, the park surrounds almost the entirety of the Holyoke Range. (The rest is contained within the adjacent Joseph Allen Skinner State Park). Hikers are treated to a 7-mile ridgeline, which rolls out near-constant views of the surrounding valleys.
During the summer, the high elevation provides a welcome respite from the muggy valley heat. And in fall, there’s no better vantage point to take in Western Massachusetts’ world-famous fall foliage. Here’s what you need to know ahead of your first visit.
Mount Holyoke Range State Park is open year-round. Each season paints the landscape in wildly different colors, giving the scenery a near-constant refresh. Between the seasonal variability and the range’s vast array of ecosystems and forest types, it’s easy to visit several times a year without ever feeling like you’ve been to the same park twice.
- Spring: Cool temperatures and newly leafing trees make spring a gorgeous time to visit the park. Flowers begin blooming as soon as the snow starts to melt and continue through late June.
- Summer: Massachusetts summers can be sweltering, but the higher peaks of the Holyoke Range are nearly 1,000 feet above sea level, offering some respite from the heat. Be sure to bring plenty of water: The highs in July frequently climb into the mid-80s.
- Fall: Mount Holyoke is one of the best spots to view New England’s famed fall foliage, which generally peaks around mid-October. Autumn is also the season for hawk-watching: Several different hawk species migrate through the park between September and November.
- Winter: With cross-country skiing, snowshoeing, and snowmobiling all on offer in the Holyoke Range, winter is a magical time to visit. While temperatures tend to be relatively moderate (usually with daily highs in the 30s), damp conditions are almost guaranteed. Pack a waterproof shell and plenty of layers.