Page Contributor(s): Drew Peterson, MA, USA; Fran Armentano, North Granby, CT.
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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%, the steepest quarter mile is 12.2%, and one mile averages 10.2%
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.
“The northern approach to Mount Greylock is very likely the most difficult climb in Massachusetts...The hill is solid immediately as you pull away from State Street. Soon bear right on Reservoir Road and find continued double digit grade. This section quickly becomes quite variable with shallow riding interspersed with double digit ramps. At mile 2.3 turn left to continue as you enter the Mount Greylock State Reservation. The route heads into deep woods here and the road narrows and begins to twist up the hill.
The next several miles are solid overall and through multiple S bends that carry you higher up the mountain. Beyond this quite solid slope the grade eases a bit but the route remains tight and twisty. A nice view appears briefly to your right as you approach the junction. At that junction, turn left to continue over mild grade and with nice views to your right. Near the very top the road splits and the listed climb ends very near the top of the mountain at the top of the circle. The descent of the north side of Mount Greylock is a challenging one in places…” (This quote provided with approval of John Summerson, from his book, “The Complete Guide to Climbing (by Bike) in the Northeast, pg. 72.)
Before heading out on your Mt. Greylock cycling adventure, be sure to rely on our list of Things to Bring on a Cycling Trip, and use our interactive checklist to ensure you don't forget anything.
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 Road 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).
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 faucet 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.
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).
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 is 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.
The Appalachian Trail crosses the top of Mt. Greylock.
There is a topographical model of the area at the top with informative inscription and plaques.
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.
Appalachian Trail appears in the second half of the clip.
Ride 8.9 miles gaining 2,279’ at 4.5% average grade.
The climb from the Lanesboro side is worth doing too. This climb is 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.