Mount Sugarloaf offers rewarding hike experience

By Brittany Bowker

Flickr/Massachusetts Office of Travel & Tourism

From the noticeably increasing amount of cawing birds, whipping long-boarders and jubilant faces on the University of Massachusetts campus, it’s become clear that spring is now officially in season.  Now that the season is beginning to blossom, it’s about time to get outside and start taking full advantage of the warm sunshine.

Mount Sugarloaf is a highly recommended spring destination for anyone that wants to get out and go do something different. Hiking this small mountain will not only get your cardio workout in for the day, but will also provide you with scenic trails and breathtaking views.

Mount Sugarloaf State Reservation is located in South Deerfield and is about 20 minutes from campus.  The Pioneer Valley Transit Authority (PVTA) 46 bus can bring you directly to the base of the mountain, so inconvenience is not a valid excuse to pass up on checking this place out.

Upon arrival, there will be a small parking lot, which is conveniently free of charge if you drive, and several trails branching off from it.  The trails are generally clear and easy to identify.  All trails lead to the same summit, which is 652 feet up.  This is both a hike as well as a workout, so sneakers and bottled water are an absolute essential.

The journey to the peak is an ongoing mix of dirt paths, rock steps and grassy patches. Some parts of the hike are flat, allowing some gasping hikers to catch their breath and giving others the opportunity to take a few pictures. Other parts of the hike are much more vertical and those who find themselves treading these areas might have to use branches and rocks to help hoist themselves up and over small upward sloping edges and cliffs.

Resting points are complete with benches and pristine photo opportunities to take pictures of the scenery and document your progress.  With a camera, this scenic adventure can be easily catalogued.

Once reaching the summit, you’ll find a large, concrete two-story house that allows hikers an even better opportunity for scenic viewing.  There are also picnic tables and pavilions that offer shade as well as additional places to rest, recover and enjoy the scenery.  Hikers will also notice a secondary parking lot because driving to the summit is another option for those who aren’t able or choose not to make the climb.

The summit overlooks the Connecticut River and the Pelham and Berkshire Hills. In the very distance hikers can even see the tops of the Southwest towers and the W.E. B. Du Bois Library.  The hike is a true accomplishment and the view is a beautiful reward.

At an average pace it takes about 40 minutes to hike to the top and another 20 to get back down to the base.  This springtime activity isn’t overly time consuming and can be complete in as fast as just one hour.  So take some time to explore some places off campus.

Brittany Bowker can be reached at [email protected]