Saturday, October 13, 2007

View Finder

A real sparkler of a day, we thought about doing a picnic type thing for lunch. I wanted to see how the foliage was coming along, so we combined the ideas and headed for Skinner State Park on the Mt. Holyoke range.

We picked up a 3 foot grinder at Big Y, some chips and drinks, and headed out.

There are many trails leading up to the top of this mountain, but today we drove up. It's a nice, though narrow and twisty, road to the top. Costs 2 bucks to park. Lots of people choose to walk up this road also rather than hike the wooded trails.
The famous Summit House sits atop this 962' mountain. The gleaming white house can be seen from all over the valley.

It was jam packed today, one of the most crowded days I think I've ever seen it. The two parking areas were full.

We were fortunate to find a picnic table, it was out in a kind of a private area out of the way of the passerby's and it had a great view.

While we ate we were treated with the view of a broad-winged hawk circling overhead, and a couple of times this plane buzzed close by at near eye-level.

After lunch we strolled around the park area.

This is an entrance to the 'Seven Sisters' trail, part of the Metacomet-Monadnock trail. The 7 Sisters section goes all the way to Bare mountain, about 3 hiking hours away.

From what I read the first summit house on this hill was built around 1821, and it was alternately rebuilt through the years as it became more popular as a resort/tourist spot.

Here's an interesting website with the Building's timeline and old pictures:

There used to be a Tram that brought people up a covered tunnel to the house. Whoever etched their name on this rock long ago back in 1873 probably rode that tram.

There is this small memorial to the fallen Air Force fliers out of Westover. Back in 1944 a B-24 bomber crashed into the mountain near here.

The Summit House as it stands today was extensively renovated in the 1980's.

While you can walk around the balcony of the house any time, occasionally they open the doors and let people inside, where there are some period furniture, decor, pictures and paintings, and other interesting tidbits like slide shows showing the building's history.

I think the view from this mountain exceeds all others. Beating out the view from Sugarloaf and Mt. Tom, which are 2nd and 3rd in my book.

You can see both sides of the valley from here very nicely. On a clear day like today you can see all the way to Mt. Monadnock in New Hampshire to the north, and the towers of Hartford to the south.

When the building is open you can go up higher to the 2nd and 3rd floor decks. I took this 360 view from the top deck...

And took this video from the crowded main balcony:

After the park we went to Northampton for a coffee and a walk-about. We walked through the beautiful Smith College campus down to the bridge crossing the Mill river, which separates the main campus from the athletic fields.

(The setting sun helping me out with the photos.)


Mary E.Carey said...

Great post! Love the old juxtaposed with the new. Interesting that a lot of people were out, maybe because the bad weather reminded us the warm, sunny days aren't going to last and it's also foliage season -- or almost. We were wondering if it is arriving a little slowly this year.

Tony said...

The leaf change does seem a little slow. It has been such a dry summer, I hope the leaves don't just fizzle out this year.