About Appalachian Trail Trailhead - Beartown Mountain Road
This trailhead has parking for 4-6 vehicles. It is at the “winter gate” where snowplowing on Beartown Mountain Road stops in the winter. The gate is open in the summer, but there is no opportunity for Trail parking further in. The A.T. crosses the road less than 0.2 miles from the gate. Northbound hikers can spot a 2nd car at Tyringham Cobble Parking in Tyringham for a somewhat challenging, tho mostly down hill, 5.2 mile hike. Southbound hikers can similarly spot a car at Benedict Pond for a 4.8 mile trip.
The A.T. crosses (and travels briefly along) the road about 0.2 miles west of the gate. Northbound hikers turn right into the woods traveling on mostly level trail, past beaver ponds and over several unbridged stream crossings. 19th century stone walls are encountered before the Trail descends, often steeply, down to Fernside Road after 3 miles. Continuing downhill a bit further and passing Shaker Campsite--a primitive overnight site for backpackers--the Trail crosses several open fields before climbing Tyringham Cobble at 5.2 miles. The parking area is reached via local trails on the Cobble. More info at the Trustees of Reservations Tyringham Cobble .
Southbound hikers travel briefly on Beartown Mountain Road before turning left and into the woods. The Trail gradually climbs to height of land, reaching a junction with a blue-blazed access trail to Mount Wilcox North shelter and campsite at 0.9 miles. The 0.2 mile access trail was once the original route of the A.T. and leads to a primitive log shelter constructed in the early 1960’s and associated tenting sites and privy.
Continuing south, the Trail passes a large beaver pond near the headwaters of Swann Brook at 1.7 miles, before climbing briefly to a long ridge that brings it to the access trail for another backpacker overnight site: Mount Wilcox South shelter and campsite at 2.8 miles. Here, a CCC-era shelter constructed for the Trail in the 1930’s is preserved for use, along with associated tenting areas and a privy. Descending and crossing a wide bowl with multiple streams, the trail then climbs steeply to another ridge and winds along its western edge, passing “The Ledges” viewpoint at 3.6 miles before crossing below a beaver dam and descending on rock steps before skirting the eastern edge of Benedict Pond.
The pond is circumnavigated by a blue blaze trail and it connects to the A.T. at two points. At the southern junction of the A.T. and this trail (4.2 miles), hikers turn right and follow the blue-blazes 0.4 miles to the Benedict Pond boat launch parking area. Just beyond the parking area is a swimming beach and a State Campground.
The Appalachian Trail (or A.T.), is a 2100 mile footpath stretching from Maine to Georgia. 90 miles of the Trail are in Massachusetts, traversing the Berkshires. Local volunteers manage and maintain the footpath and the surrounding trail corridor in partnership with the Massachusetts Department of Conservation and Recreation (DCR) and the National Park Service Appalachian Trail Park (NPS-APPA). While popular with both day hikers and backpackers, the A.T. is managed as a primitive backcountry trail with limited amenities. Visitors should dress for the range of expected weather, wear sturdy shoes, and carry the Ten Essentials on their hike. Bicycles and motorized vehicles are not permitted on the A.T. For more on the Appalachian Trail, visit the Appalachian Trail Conservancy’s website.