Location: Harris Mountain Road, Granby MA
Elevation Gain: 2,800 feet
Distance: 9.6 miles
Are you looking for a rugged hike with scenic views and minimal crowds? If so then the M+M/ Robert Frost Trail from Harris Mountain Road to the Notch Visitor Center is for you.
This 9.6-mile hike has plenty of gnarly climbs, some of the best views in the Pioneer Valley and almost no other hikers. That is because most of the crowds can be found farther down on the same ridge hiking the Seven Sisters or Barre Mountain that are better known.
The trailhead can be found on Harris Mountain Road in Granby, MA. For most of the hike the Robert Frost Trail (orange blazes) and the M+M Trail (white blazes) share the route. These trail do split toward the end of the hike, which gives you options.
The route starts flat for about 50 yards and then the climbing starts.
It is gradual at first and then the pitch picks up enough to justify steps built into the slope.
It continues for almost a mile as you climb Long Mountain and then you are rewarded for your work with an epic view of Mount Norowttuck. Don’t think about how far it looks because that is where you are headed if you do the full hike. Be careful to look for trail markers as you descend Long Mountain. There seems to be a fire road there that looks like a trail and it has confused me a few times.
From there descend sharply as you head into the valley between Long Mountain and Mount Norowttuck. You will be treated to a semi leisurely walk in the woods as the trail winds its way through the woods but the most epic ascents are yet to come.
Remember that mountain you saw in the distance from Long Mountain? Eventually you need to climb it via a steep and sustained ascent.
You have reached the top when you come to a trail junction that has signs directing you to take a left Mount Norowttuck. I highly recommend a small detour, just 100 yards or so, by taking a right on the Ken Cuddleback Trail (blue markers) and going to Rattlesnake Knob.
You will be rewarded with another epic view that looks directly back at Long Mountain and the ridge you just traversed.
From there follow the Ken Cuddleback Trail back to the junction with the M+M / Robert Frost Trail and head toward Mount Norrowtuck. Eventually the M+M and Robert Frost Trails split even though they both end up at the Notch Visitor Center. This is where you have a choice to make. You can take the M+M trail past the Horse Caves and up the intense ascent to Mount Norrowtuck or you can take the Robert Frost Trail and bypass most of the climbing. I recommend taking the M+M trail since the Horse Caves and view from Mount Norowttuck are worth the view; you can always take the Robert Frost Trail on the return trip to add more variety.
The M+M Trail goes right past the Horse Caves, which are a neat feature to check out. It is rumored that Daniel Shay hid his horses here during Shay’s Rebellion. I recommend using this as a good spot to catch your breath since the next ascent, which leads to the top of Mount Norowttuck, is among the steepest on this hike. At the summit you will once again be rewarded with a great view of the valley.
From here you can follow the M+M trail down the mountain and all the way to the Notch Visitor Center. Here you will find crowds of hikers who are crowding the more popular routes in the area. For the return trip you can retrace your steps or Follow the Robert Frost Trail that bypasses Mount Norowttuck before it reunites with the M+M Trail.
I believe that this out and back trail is every bit the equal of the Seven Sisters which shares the same ridge. The terrain is challenging, the views are great and you might have the trail all to yourself; what else can you ask for?