Hiking: Mount Greylock via the Money Brook and Hopper Trails | Berkshire Mountains, MA | 8/8/10

Mount Greylock is the highest mountain in Massachusetts at 3,491 feet. It stands generally in the middle of a long ridge of mountains that include Mount Williams and Fitch to the north and Saddle Ball Mountain to the south. The Appalachian Trail runs over this entire ridge generally from north to south and there are a multitude of trails surrounding Greylock that climb the mountain from several different directions. The mountain is steep from just about every direction and almost all the ascents include over 2,000 vertical feet of climbing.

We decided to tackle Greylock from the west via the trail head on Hopper Road. From this trail head the Hopper Trail and the Money Brook Trail provide access to Greylock, Mount Fitch and Mount Williams. We wanted a loop hike so we went with following the Money Brook Trail up Money Brook, past the Wilbur Clearing Shelter and connected with the Appalachian Trail. From there we followed the Appalachian Trail southward up and over Mount Williams, along the ridge to Mount Fitch and then made the final climb to the summit of Mount Greylock after connecting with the Thunderbolt Trail. From the top of Greylock we followed the Hopper Trail down off the summit, partially out along Stony Ledge Ridge and then dropped down the Hopper and eventually made our way back to the trail head on Hopper Road. That's about a 11 mile loop and you've got about 2200 vertical feet of relief from the parking area to the summit of Greylock.

The hike begins at the end of Hopper Road. There's a fairly large parking area with an informational kiosk. The trail cuts through the farm at the end of the road and follows old roads for much of its way.
Mount Greylock via the Money Brook Trail and descent via Hopper Trail
Mount Greylock via the Money Brook Trail and descent via Hopper Trail


After a few tenths of a mile the Hopper Trail heads off to the right and the Money Brook Trail goes straight ahead.
Mount Greylock via the Money Brook Trail and descent via Hopper Trail
The trail passes through a "dispersed camping area" which I guess is just a designated tent camping area. It seemed nice enough, but it is not very far from the road, so I would imagine on Friday and Saturday nights, it is probably pretty crowded with people camping in preparation for climbing Greylock.

After the camping area, the trail heads back into the woods along Money Brook. The trail crosses the brook in a few places and generally climbs gently along the brook's course. The brook eventually starts carving more of a ravine and at the point, the trail tends to contour up gently, rising higher and higher above the stream bed.
Mount Greylock via the Money Brook Trail and descent via Hopper Trail
Mount Greylock via the Money Brook Trail and descent via Hopper Trail

The trail then turns abrubtly east, drops down to the creek level and then climbs back up along the branch of Money Brook to Money Brook Falls. I can't say we were blown away, they are a small cascade about a hundred yards from the main trail on a side trail. We stopped and enjoyed a snack and took a rest since this is probably the area of the most climbing along the Money Brook Trail.

From the side trail to the falls, the trails climbs quite steeply for a short distance until you come up on an open hardwood forest that has a much more gentle slope. From there, it's almost flat to the Wilbur Clearing Shelter. This shelter has the leanto itself along with several tent platforms for camping.
Mount Greylock via the Money Brook Trail and descent via Hopper Trail
Mount Greylock via the Money Brook Trail and descent via Hopper Trail
From the shelter it's a quick hike to the Money Brook Trail's intersection (and end point) with the Appalachian Trail.
Mount Greylock via the Money Brook Trail and descent via Hopper Trail
Once you're on the Appalachian Trail you fairly quickly cross Notch Road (the auto road up Mount Greylock) and then begin ascent of Mount Williams.
Mount Greylock via the Money Brook Trail and descent via Hopper Trail
There isn't much steep climbing up Mount Williams as the trail takes a pretty relaxed route up the mountain. There are no views on the way up and at the summit itself, there is a small trail register and an overgrown view off to the east.
Mount Greylock via the Money Brook Trail and descent via Hopper Trail
Now the rest of the trip to Greylock is almost like a walk in the park. You descend slightly off of Mount Williams and start following a ridge. With just the smallest amount of climbing you end up on the summit of Mount Fitch, which is not even all that noticeable. From there you continue along the ridge to the base of the summit cone of Greylock.
Mount Greylock via the Money Brook Trail and descent via Hopper Trail
Mount Greylock via the Money Brook Trail and descent via Hopper Trail
Just before the real climbing to the summit begins, the Appalachian Trail intersects and follows the Thunderbolt Trail, which is a wintertime ski trail, which is maintained much wider than your average hiking trail. This lets you get some views as you start climbing fairly steeply and steadily up to the summit of Greylock.

You cross Notch Road again and come across the best views of the hike so far looking eastward and northward.
Mount Greylock via the Money Brook Trail and descent via Hopper Trail
The trail goes back into the woods and makes its final climb to the summit area of Greylock. Mind you this is a very developed mountain summit. There's a memorial to Massachusetts War Memorial, a parking area, and Bascom Lodge. So expect to pop out of the woods and be surrounded by plenty of tourists who just drove up the mountain.
Mount Greylock via the Money Brook Trail and descent via Hopper Trail
Mount Greylock via the Money Brook Trail and descent via Hopper Trail - 8/8/10
The views are excellent from the mountain top and you can climb the War Memorial to get an even better view. We figured we'd save that for a day when we drove up the mountain.

When Bascom Lodge is open, they do have water around back available to refill drinking water bottles. This is handy since after you leave the Money Brook area, there really is no water along the trail to refill.
Mount Greylock via the Money Brook Trail and descent via Hopper Trail
We refilled and then continued following the Appalachian Trail (which is also the Hopper Trail) from the summit. There are a lot of trails in this area, so it is wise to have the map and pay real attention to the signage. You would not want to end up descending the wrong side of the mountain and it seems like it could be pretty easy considering how many choices there are.
Mount Greylock via the Money Brook Trail and descent via Hopper Trail
The trail makes its way down off the immediate summit and passes by a small pond. From there, you make your way down the Stony Ledge ridge and eventually intersect with Sperry Road, which is the road that runs out to the Stony Ledge lookout. You will have to walk through Sperry Campground on the roadway before the Hopper Trail turns northward and starts dropping down into the Hopper.
Mount Greylock via the Money Brook Trail and descent via Hopper Trail
From its departure from Sperry Road, you have almost two miles of steady, steep descent down through the Hopper and back to the trail's intersection with the Money Brook Trail. The first mile or so is the steepest, with the last half mile or so before you reach the Money Brook Trail a lot less steep.

From the intersection with the Money Brook Trail, it's a quick hike back out the Trail Head and your car.
Mount Greylock via the Money Brook Trail and descent via Hopper Trail
Check out the entire photoset for this hike on Flickr.

Hike Details
Hopper Road Trail Head to:
  • Money Brook Falls - 2.4 miles
  • Wilbur Clearing Shelter - 3.1 miles
  • Junction with Appalachian Trail - 3.6 miles
Appalachian Trail from Money Brook Trail Intersection to:
  • Mount William Summit - 1.0 miles
  • Mount Greylock Summit - 3.4 miles
Mount Greylock Summit via Hopper Trail to:
  • Turn off from Appalachian Trail - 0.5 miles
  • Sperry Campground - 1.8 miles
  • Hopper Trail/Money Brook Trail Head - 4.0 miles
Total Hike - 11 miles
Roughly 2,200 vertical feet between Hopper/Money Brook Trailhead and Summit of Greylock

AMC Massachusetts Trail Guide, 9th: AMC's Comprehensive Guide to Hiking Trails in Massachusetts (Appalachian Mountain Club Trail Guide: Massachusetts)For More Information
The Appalachian Mountain Club publishes Massachusetts Trail Guide which provides maps and trail descriptions for these trails and other trails in the Berkshires. 
 

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