Hiking the Seven Sisters before sunrise: a thanksgiving tradition

photo by Drew Ritter
Thanksgiving is about family, eating and seeing old friends. Some people choose to reunite with their friends at the bar. For the past 3 years, I chose to do it during a pre-sunrise hike of the Seven Sisters in Mount Holyoke Range State Park. Hopefully this tradition will be part of Thanksgivings for years to come.
The Seven Sisters is a name for the 6 mile section of the Metacomet-Monadnock Trail  in the Mount Holyoke Range State Park between Mountain Road in Hadley MA and the Notch Visitor Center in South Hadley MA. The route traverses a ridge with 7 distinct sub 1,000 foot summits which totals almost 4,000 feet of climbing. It is better known as the site of the Seven Sisters Trail Race in the spring.
3 years ago my friend J.R. suggested that we hike the Seven Sisters at 6 am on Thanksgiving morning. Only 3 of us said yes. The following year 5 joined. This year we had 9 hikers up for the challenge.  We spotted a few cars at the Notch and headed back to Mountain Road to make our 6 am start. Headlamps were necessary as the sun had not yet made its appearance. I have hiked this route many times but doing it in the dark adds a new experience to it. 
photo by Drew Ritte
The sun began to rise as we neared the summit of Mount Holyoke, which was the first of the seven peaks on the day’s route. 
photo by Drew Ritter
We stopped to enjoy Atkins Farms cider doughnuts and hot chocolate at the summit of Mount Holyoke. This is a luxury I don’t typically enjoy on most hikes!
photo by Drew Ritter
The views into the sleeping valley were magnificent and we had them all to ourselves at that time in the morning. We resumed our hike at a leisurely pace. The main focus of this hike was to reconnect with old friends and to savor the hike so speed was not required. 
photo by Drew Ritter
 We paused a few times to enjoy the breathtaking views from the ridge along the trail. 
photo by Drew Ritter
The Seven Sisters provides some of the best views that I have ever seen on sub 1,000 foot peaks.
We completed the hike in broad daylight a few hours later. We then went our separate ways. I sat down to Thanksgiving dinner thankful for a great tradition with great people. I was also thankful to have already burned a few thousand calories. 
What are your holiday traditions? 
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4 thoughts on “Hiking the Seven Sisters before sunrise: a thanksgiving tradition

  1. That's a pretty wonderful tradition. My family Thanksgivings are pretty fully devoted to getting fat, but there tends to be a walk around town at some point, at least.

    One of my favorite things about the northeast is all those sub-1000 foot peaks with tremendous views. The Seven Sisters, the Camden Hills, parts of Acadia… it's so cool to have a short (and steep) hike with an open, rocky summit like that. I've got to get down to the Holyoke area again sometime soon.

  2. We would have been quicker if it were not for an unfortunate casualty. I think this will grow in popularity. You might even see some of your readers next year.

  3. Ryan, Thank you! Getting fat and walking around the neighborhood sounds like a good tradition to! I totally agree about the beauty of New England's awesome short peaks. I think these are like gateway mountains that persuade people to climb higher peaks. Let me know if you come out this way, I would love to join you for that hike!

    Drew, Causalities are part of the tradition unfortunately.

  4. That's a great tradition. I usually spend my Thanksgivings in South Hadley and this would be a marvelous way to start the day.

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