Mt. Greylock North Bike Climb - PJAMM Cycling

Mt. Greylock North

MA, USA

The highest paved road in Massachusetts.

Page Contributor(s): Drew Peterson, MA, USA

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Climb Summary


Cycling Mt. Greylock, Massachusetts  - bike parked in front of Mount Greylock State Reservation sign 

Cycling Mt. Greylock, the highest point in Massachusetts.

Ride nine miles gaining 2,772’’ at 5.7% average grade.

Mt. Greylock is a fun, scenic and fairly challenging bike climb in the Mount Greylock State Reservation, Massachusetts.  The climb has some sections that hit 15% and the steepest quarter mile is 12.2% and one mile averages 10.2%

Cycling Mt. Greylock, Massachusetts  - photo collage, PJAMM Cycling logo in corner, signs for Mount Greylock, Mt. Greylock Veterans War Memorial Tower

The climb is through Mount Greylock State Reservation.

The Appalachian Trail crosses Mt. Greylock.

We finish our climb at the spectacular Mount Greylock Veterans War Memorial Tower.

Climb is on MA Scenic Byway

Climb summary by PJAMM Cycling contributor Drew Peterson:

Climb begins at the western edge of North Adams by riding south up Reservoir Rd where the road pitches UP!

First half of the climb

 Mt. Greylock is an example of quintessential New England climbing -- climbs rarely ascend more than a couple thousand feet, but roads were also cut in the days before graded roads, so paving crews made do with what mother nature gave them and the results are at times brutally steep. Starting from downtown North Adams you'll climb about 2,800 feet at an average of 6%, but there are long stretches north of 10% and short pitches well into the upper teens. Notch Road is closed to traffic from Memorial Day to Labor Day, but can be ridden year round as long as it's snow free (though particularly in the spring you'll need to watch for debris on the road before it's opened).

Cycling Mt. Greylock, Massachusetts  - bike parked on guardrail next to sign for Mt. Greylock Scenic Byway, one-lane narrow road surrounded by lush greenery

Enter the State Reservation at about 2.5 miles.

6.7 miles at 6.1% from here.

When the road is open there's a visitor center selling food and beer/wine, and with a water faucet on the back right to fill water bottles if this ascent is part of a multiple-summit ride (this is unfortunately shut off when the road is closed). This is a popular tourist destination so exercise caution on weekends and holidays, but mid-week it's usually quiet.

Middle section of the climb.

The most popular route up the mountain (and the route of an annual time trial held in September) begins in Heritage State Park in downtown North Adams (where there's ample parking), running up Reservoir Road to Notch Road and the state park. While the pavement on Reservoir road is in places a little rough, Notch road is immaculately maintained -- in spring of 2019 I spotted a pair of frost heaves on the downhill side that would require a little attention but that was it. The pavement is unbroken, smooth, and rolls fast.

Cycling Mt. Greylock, Massachusetts  - photo collage showing ample signage throughout climb, PJAMM Cycling logo in corner

You’ll have a hard time getting lost. 👍

The climbing is front-loaded -- the first pitch on Reservoir road is in the mid-teens, and while you get about a mile's recovery after that, it picks right back up on Notch Road and the next two or so miles are a pretty steady 8-10% with steeper switchbacks.There's a brief respite at the second hiker crossing around the 4.5 mile point, and then when you hit a scenic overlook around the 6 mile mark (offering a view of the summit) the climb eases up a bit before the final 3/4 mile pitch to the summit after Notch Road merges with Rockwell Road coming up from Lanesboro.

Unnamed viewpoint at mile 6.1

Adams Overlook at mile 8.4 (6/10’s of a mile from the top).

Cycling Mt. Greylock, Massachusetts  - photo collage, PJAMM Cycling logo in corner, Mt. Greylock Veterans Memorial tower, road sign reading "Welcome to Massachusetts", and bike parked against sign saying "Welcome! Mt. Greylock Summit Elevation: 3,491'"

Highest point in all of Massachusetts.

The payoff? Sweeping views of Massachusetts, Vermont, and New York from the open summit (explore the wooded paths to find boulders inscribed with Thoreau quotes), and a rollercoaster of a descent. When the road's closed and conditions are good, if you don't mind throwing your bike around a little in the corners you can pick up some serious speed bombing back down into North Adams.

MT. GREYLOCK SUMMIT

The Veterans World War I Memorial Tower was approved by the Massachusetts state legislature in 1930 and built 1931-1932 with an operating beacon that could be seen for 70 miles.

Cycling Mt. Greylock, Massachusetts  - markers for the Appalachian Trail atop Mt. Greylock

The Appalachian Trail crosses the top of Mt. Greylock.

Cycling Mt. Greylock, Massachusetts  - topographical model of area atop Mt. Greylock, informative inscription and plaques

There is a topographical model of the area at the top with informative inscription and plaques.

Cycling Mt. Greylock, Massachusetts  - informational signs at the Mt. Greylock Veterans Memorial

Cycling Mt. Greylock, Massachusetts  - informative plaques displayed at the Mt. Greylock Veterans Memorial

The Memorial Tower also has informative plaques displayed on it.

Bascom Lodge at the summit

MT. GREYLOCK FROM THE AIR

Appalachian Trail middle, Rockwell Road right.

MT. GREYLOCK SOUTH

Ride 8.9 miles gaining 2,279’ at 4.5% average grade.

The climb from the Lanesboro side is worth doing too - it's about a mile longer but starts from a higher elevation so it comes in at a more gentle ~4% from Route 7. There's parking at the Visitor Center at the base of Rockwell Road, though the steepest pitch of the climb is the road up to the visitor center so you'll want to backtrack to the highway and ride back up for the full effect.  The first two miles and the last three miles of the climb from the visitor center are easily the steepest (around 7-8%), but there's about a two mile flat section in between. Remember when you merge with Notch Road and the North Adams ascent that any rider you see at this intersection is coming off a sustained flat section whereas you're not, as it's a little demoralizing otherwise seeing riders ripping around the corner as you grind your way up to the intersection.