Cycling Mt. Greylock - the highest point in Massachusetts
Ride 9 miles gaining 2,772’’ at 5.7
% average gade.
Mt. Greylock is a fun, scenic and moderately challenging bike climb.
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 summary by PJAMM contributor Drew Peterson:
Mt. Greylock is a 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 ½ 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.
You’ll have a hard time getting lost 👍
Highest point in all of Massachusetts
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.
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 '19 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.
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.
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.
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 about a more gentle 4% from Rt. 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.