Rocky Mountain Park, Greenfield
Rocky Mountain Park a.k.a The Greenfield Ridge in Greenfield, Massachusetts: There are lot's of Names for this compact but very lovely and dynamic riding area. Some call it Poet's Seat, others the "Rocky Ridge", many call it "Bear's Den" and others still call it "Sachem's Head" - all these names refer to specific features and areas in the park. Rocky Mountain Park (a.k.a The Greenfield Ridge) is the northern most extension of the long Pocumtuck ridge that runs from Sugarloaf Tower in Deerfield to Poet's Seat Tower in Greenfield parallel to the Connecticut River. It can be easily linked with the Deerfield Ridge and Sugarloaf North Trails for a truly epic day's worth of riding.
The Greenfield Ridge is also a long time locals favorite, so finding someone, or a group of someones to show you around is easy. Both of our sponsor bike shops in Greenfield run regular weekly rides here. Check with Chris Ethier at BICYCLE WORLD (413-774-3701) on Federal Street Greenfield or with Bob Perry at BICYCLES UNLIMITED (413-772-2700) on High Streeet in Greenfield to find out the weekly schedule for group rides.
The Greenfield Ridge is actually two areas separated by Mountain Road. The Northeast section called Poet's Seat (with a seasonal paved rd up to Poet's seat tower) abuts the Connecticut River Tributary and is comprised of a big hill and long cliff line on the East and West sides. Directly across Mountain Rd sits the southwest parcel (often called The Rocky Ridge or Sachem's Head) whose main feature is also a big cliff lined hill, atop of which sits a great platform for some surprisingly stunning view of the Northern Pioneer Valley.
Both sides use a network of color Coded trails Red, Orange, Blue, Yellow and White. The Parking Area off Mountain Rd for Poets Seat has a standing map of the trails. The Blue marked Trails running south will link up with the blue marked Pocumtuck Ridge Trail in Deerfield. Basically, with a road in the middle, the longer trails run north and south across both big hills, (and skirt the cliffs in a sometimes dramatic fashion!), with a few shorter connector trail running between them. What follows is the Classic Route, but honestly I'd strongly suggest getting together with the Bicycle World Gang or the Bicycles Unlimited Crew to get the best taste of these trails.
I usually park at Bicycles Unlimited on high street and go left out of the lot onto High St. (North) going about 1/4 mile and turn right immediately after the light onto Stone farm Lane. Right in front of you, once you turn is the trailhead, get on it and make an immediate sharp right and start climbing up the steep rocky cliffside trail--some will find this a rather strenuous climb--it is, but it's not that long and it's the hardest in the park. Pay attention on the way up. There are some 'ghost trails' to your right that just go to lookouts and high school love areas--but, if you hit them too fast-you'll fly off the cliff. Really! In general, stay with the obvious trail until you get to the Lookout (Poet's Seat) tower.
Near the top of this climb the trail does split, go right for the hard-but fun rock ledge or left to take it easy-both bring you to the road at the tower. Now this is important, once you reach the road by the tower go LEFT. The road drops down in two directions. And Look for the trail Head on your left It'll be marked with either a white or yellow dot. This will switch back you down a few turns to another trail - the White Dot trail. There are options here, but I like to go left.
Enjoy the trail for about 3/4 of a mile then look for the Double Blue Dot (trail merging sign) on a tree and go right. You're now on the red dot trail which splits up ahead. Bear left on the orange dot trail. If you miss it, no sweat they go the same way.) You'll soon be getting some serious vertigo as you whiz along the narrow cliff edge. It's fast and fun just remember to fall to your right if you're going down, (or you'll really be going down).
After a mile the singletrack opens up into a double track. You'll begin to climb. Look for a rather pronounced trail on your right heading up the hill and get on it. This short, strenuous climb will take you to the parking area for Poet's Seat where there is a map of the park.
Go across the street and bear right, the trailhead to Sachem's head is on the other side of the road. Duck into the woods on the wide-ish blue trail, Up ahead bear right and follow the blue trail all the way to either…ONE the very top which has a great lookout and fun-technical ride coming back down - (some walking on the way up is almost a requirement for everyone)… Or TWO turn off the Blue trail at your second left (a hairpin turn). Ride this new trail down to the next intersection and head right dropping down to the fire road (Bear's Den Rd).
OK, now turn right on the Fire Road and climb about 1/4 mile up looking for the trailhead to the White Dot trail on your left. Thgis is a different white dot than the one you rode previously.
Get on the trail and follow it down to - ah, heck, I'll spare you the hard climb - make your first right off this trail onto another singletrack and follow this to the powerlines. At the powerlines make a right and drop then climb the trail heading towards the highest high tension tower.
There are a number of competing trails here. Just look straight at the highest powerline tower and head for it. Once you're there, look left and you'll see the next trail. After short but very difficult little uphill entrance (Joe's rock) you'll ride along a neat rocky spine and drop down the rather steep other side. Here, go right on the trail and make an immediate left onto the wide double track.
Go about 100 yards and make a right, you'll be running fast down a wide-ish trail, but pay attention! You'll need to make a sudden right turn onto the green dot singletrack trail, (note our really nice nemba built bridges), a fun trail that drops you down and then forces you up and across another set of powerlines and then leads to a fire road. This is the Top of Bears Den Rd you're only about 1/2 mile from where you ducked onto the white trail off of this road. Anyway, head right on the road and look left, there are two trails heading up the very steep embankment to your left.
If you missed the Sachem's Head Platform lookout before, take the second of these trails. Should you succeed in making the climb on the trail, you'll need to carry the bike and hoof it up the last 40 ft of steep rocky embankment to get to the lookout. It's worth it, but it's work!
Once up top, eat, drink and take in the view. The trail (Blue Dot) takes off along the cliff to your right, if you're facing out west, directly opposite where you climbed up from. It's technical, but great. And if you follow this blue dot trail all the way you'll end up on the road right by the Poet's Seat Parking Area. Then you can retrace your steps or just use to map to get back (or the road if you're spent) to Bicycles Unlimited on High Street.
This is a hilly, sometimes technical (no jumps/big hits) sometimes flowing grinder of a good time. It's great for an hour or two of working fun.
There are many other trails and routes here. I know this all sound confusing, but it's a really simple area to navigate once you get the hang of it. But I do recommend hooking up with a sponsor shop's group ride.
Have Fun, don't Fall.
By Liam O'Brien