I ran for my trail map to plot a course once my girlfriend said that she wanted to return to Mount Greylock for her birthday. This time she also insisted on doing a harder route than our first Greylock hike.
This was our second Greylock climb since October and it is amazing how much conditions change in a matter of weeks. In early October we found ourselves in warm sunlight with no need for a jacket; even on the summit. Less than 30 days later we found the temperatures in the 40s with a thin layer of snow in some spots.
We decided to head to the summit via the Jones Nose trail and the Appalachian trail. The Jones Nose trail starts off in an open field with beautiful open views. It quickly gets into the woods for some moderate climbing. We found some wet leaves and even some snow on the trail. This may have slowed us down but it was interesting to see the transition between fall and winter.
The Jones Nose trail meets up with the Appalachian Trail after about 1 mile. This trial junction is near the top of Saddle Ball Mountain which is only a few hundred feet of elevation below Mount Greylock’s summit. Therefore, the hike from here follows a ridge with only moderate climbing and descending. We found ourselves on the summit surprisingly fast. The overcast sky afforded some of the views that make this mountain so famous. I also noticed that the lower temperatures vastly reduced the number of people on the summit that day.
We wanted to try something new on the way down so we headed for the Hopper trail which quickly took back the elevation we worked so hard to gain. We encountered a few people on the way down but nowhere near the steady crowds that we had seen a few weeks ago
We headed onto the CCC Dynamite trail for the last leg of our Journey. On a side note, I would love to hear how this trail got its name. This is a very flat trail that essentially skirts around Saddle Ball Mountain. Therefore it is a great choice if you don’t want to risk descending the Jones Nose trail in slippery conditions. We had this trail all to ourselves and it was a very peaceful walk in the woods back to the car.
The whole trip totaled about 8 miles. This trip is a moderate route to the summit and I recommend it for beginning or casual hikers. If you are looking for extreme steepness than try the Thunderbolt Ski Trail and let me know how it is! Late October is a transition time for Mount Greylock. The fall colors were certainly long past peak and the temperatures combined with light snow hint of an approaching winter. These conditions also thin out the crowds in every part of the park. So if you want the mountain to yourself and don’t mind colder temperatures then Mount Greylock is exactly where you should be in late fall.