Directions: Click here for Google map
J.A. Skinner State Park is more than 400 acres of forest on Mount Holyoke, at the western end of the Holyoke Range. It offers breathtaking views of the Connecticut River Valley. The summit is accessible by road from April through November, and by hiking trails year-round. The Summit House was a popular mountaintop hotel in the 1800s. The park is named after Joseph Allen Skinner, a wealthy businessman who donated the hotel and land to the state in 1940.
Before driving to the summit, we stopped at Barstow's Dairy Store and Bakery just down the street to pick up our lunch. This little cafe is awesome! It is part of Barstow's Longview Farm, a local family farm. They sell a variety of farm fresh delights, make great sandwiches, offer mouthwatering desserts, and serve homemade ice cream! It's fun to sit at one of their picnic tables, watch the cows (who are quite friendly, I've learned) and breathe in the fresh air. After visiting Barstow's, we drove to the summit and walked along the "green" trail to one of the overlooks that I photographed above. It is a short, easy trail and a great place to picnic. We saw several hawks and a bald eagle!
Information source: Massachusetts Department of Conservation and Recreation
Here are the positive features:
- Barstow's Dairy Store and Bakery!
- Lots of hiking trails to choose from - even a 5 minute walk will bring you to breathtaking views
- You can drive to the summit on a paved road or park half-way up and walk the rest
- Parking at the top is just $2 and it's free to park half-way up
- We didn't see one tick the whole day (maybe that was just luck)
- Amherst is close by - a college town with lots of restaurants, stores, etc.
- The summit house (and restrooms) are in disrepair and are closed indefinitely