About Appalachian Trail Trailhead - Washington Mountain Road
Also known as Pittsfield Road, this trailhead has parking for about 6 vehicles. It is plowed in the winter. Northbound hikers can spot a 2nd car near your destination at Blotz Road for a relatively gentle 2.8 mile one-way hike. Or for a more vigorous 4.1 mile southbound hike, spot a car at County Road. In season, there is a great pick-your-own blueberry opportunity at Blueberry Hill Farm (known by backpackers as The Cookie Lady's House) about 200ft east of the parking area.
The northbound Appalachian Trail passes the kiosk at the back of the parking area, first traversing the generally flat and wet lands in the high reaches of Pittsfield Municipal Watershed lands. On extensive, and occasionally slippery, bog bridges--narrow raised planks over wet areas--hikers eventually reach the unbridged Cady Brook. Except in extremely wet weather, hikers can cross this stream dry footed on rock stepping stones. The Trail shortly arrives at a short cliff; combined with abundant nearby hemlock trees, this is an excellent habitat for porcupines. Multiple tracks can be observed in the winter. After working its way briefly up the cliff, the Trail arrives at Blotz Road.
Southbound A.T. hikers cross Washington Mountain Road and travel about 300 feet on a dirt road. Be on the lookout for the point where the A.T. turns sharply left and leaves the road. Split logs (puncheon) or wood planks (bog bridges) intermittently carry the Trail over wet and muddy ground for the next half mile or so. Hikers soon enter two tracts of recently logged Norway Spruce plantations. These fast growing, non-native trees were planted on then unforested state lands around 100 years for future harvest. They were not actively maintained and created a heavily shaded forest that excluded native species. In the past 20 years, the Norway Spruce began to rot and die out and were removed in 2021 to hasten the establishment of native ecosystems. While a bit shocking to see at first, this is a great opportunity to observe the natural sequence of regeneration of native forests.
Continuing southbound, after the 2nd logged area, hikers skirt multiple beaver ponds and cross West Branch Road before arriving at October Mountain Shelter and Campsite at 2.2 miles. This is a primitive overnight site for A.T. backpackers. The AT then continues south climbing slowly on the remains of old woods roads. Eventually it climbs more steeply up Bald Top (which is no longer bald) into the remains of another Norway Spruce plantation. Numerous fallen trees mark where this part of the plantation was not harvested. Descending steeply, the Trail arrives at County Road in 4.1 miles.
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.