The Ken Cuddeback Trail traverses swamps, forests and neighborhoods over seven miles in south Amherst, MA. It is a great choice if you are looking for a nice trail run or a mostly flat walk in the woods.
The Ken Cuddeback Trail starts on Old Farm Road in Amherst, MA and it ends at the top of Rattlesnake Knob where it meets the Robert Frost Trail. Along the way you will encounter open meadows, boardwalks through swamps, thick forests and plenty of neighborhoods.
The trail crosses a road every mile or so and in many cases you have to follow the road for a while to find the next section. Make sure to keep your eyes open for the trail markers on sidewalks, telephone poles and street signs because it is easy to get lost. You will find a white trailhead sign, like the one above, when you rejoin the trail after each street crossing.
The Ken Cuddeback Trail starts out by following an open field for .6 miles before it dips into the woods to meet up with Kestrel Lane. From here you need to follow the trail markers on the road that lead you through a neighborhood to the next section of the trail where you will traverse a series of boardwalks that seem to cross the woods behind several houses until you come to another road crossing.
Follow a few more markers on the road and you will follow a prominent path through swampy woods that will lead to the Norowttuck Rail Trail.
The Ken Cuddeback trail then follows the rail trail for about .3 miles.
From there you will head onto a a stony path through another field with a great view of the Mt. Holyoke Range as you head to another road crossing.
This is where you see the first hill but it is just a 75 ft. climb. Once again the trail markers will take you onto the road down South East St. and up Valley View Drive to the Mount Castor Marsh Conservation area.
After a few boardwalks you will encounter the trail’s first significant climb as you head to the wooded summit of Mount Castor. The ascent is moderate but it is a stark contrast to the flatness of the first few miles.
After a gentle descent the trail follows Shays Street until it takes a left and crosses a field behind Crocker Farm Elementary School. Keep your eyes open here because the trail markers are spread thin.
Once you find the trail again you will head intro the woods for one of the most remote stretches of the hike before the trail crosses Carriage Lane. This is where things get confusing; at least for me they did. The blue trail markers suddenly disappear and I could find no signs of a trail in any direction.
As you can see from my route I searched every direction for a blue marker and could not find one. At this point I gave up hope of finding the Ken Cuddeback Trail but I did see a trailhead sign fro the Plumbrook Woods Conservation Area Trail, marked with yellow markers. I thought I would follow that and in a short time I started seeing blue marks again; somehow I had rejoined the Ken Cuddeback Trail.
The trail is easy to follow from here as it takes you through the forests, boardwalk filled swamps and street crossings that seem to define this hike.
You will pass by beautiful ponds.
The hike gets really interesting after you cross Bay Road and begin the strenuous ascent to Rattlesnake Knob where you will link up with the Robert Frost Trail.
This is the most significant climb on the entire hike but its worth the effort since it leads to one of the best views on the Mt. Holyoke Range.
You will know you have reached the end of the Ken Cuddeback Trail because there is a sign to let you know.
Here is the route I ended up taking with a slight detour in the middle where I lost the trail.
If you are looking for a gentle walk in the woods then the Ken Cuddeback Trail is a great choice. However I would avoid this trail in the spring because it looks like it can easily get muddy and flooded. There is only 1,200 feet of climbing if you do the whole trail as an out and back hike so don’t expect a lot of climbing. Just be sure to bring a map and be aware of the trail signs to avoid getting lost.