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Mt. Holyoke Summit House, Talks & Walks

September 25, 2021

|Recurring Event (See all)

An event every week that begins at 12:00 am on Sunday and Saturday, repeating until September 26, 2021

September 2021 Events at Skinner State Park 

All programs are free and open to the public. Bring water, wear sunscreen/bug spray, dress in layers, and wear good footwear.  An adult must accompany children. Inclement weather cancels outdoor programs. For questions, call (413) 586-0350, or email [email protected] . Please follow all current COVID guidelines.


Saturdays, 10:00 —10:30 a.m.

For ages 10 and up. Join a park interpreter to learn more about hawks, their importance to the range, and fall migration. Meet for an interactive program.


Saturdays, 11:00—12:00 p.m. and 2:00-3:00 p.m.

For ages 12 and up. Join a park interpreter-guided tour to enliven your visit. Hear the story and vision of John and Fanny French. In the 1800s they offered a novel mountain-top vacation here at the Prospect House. Discover how it changed, and later became a state park. Meet inside the Summit House. 1-hour tour.


Sundays, 10:00—10:30 a.m.

For ages 15 and up. Discover the story of Hudson River School artist Thomas Cole and his famous painting, The Oxbow. Compare the same iconic view then and now.


Mondays, 10:00—10:30 a.m.

For all ages. Explore the unique geologic story of the Mount Holyoke Range, formed and shaped by fire and ice! Experience a dinosaur footprint, or two. Meet inside the Summit House.

Self-guided Geology Walking Tour

We see evidence of glacial action throughout the valley and on the Mt. Holyoke Range. Lawrence Swamp is a vestige of Lake Hitchcock. Mount Castor and Pollux in South Amherst are drumlins. Sand dunes lie near the ancient lake’s eastern shoreline. We occasionally find shallow, glacial grooves on the basalt rock on the Mt. Holyoke Range. About as wide as a thumb, they run in long, parallel rows. As the glacier melted, Lake Hitchcock formed terraces, and some are visible along trails on Mount Holyoke’s northwest flank. The glacier also left quartzite boulders scattered throughout the range as it retreated north.

Skinner State Park’s Conglomerate Rock is filled with large fragments embedded into a sandy matrix.

The Horse Caves, overhanging ledges on Mt. Norwottuck, are mostly conglomerate. Within are remains of fine-grained, thinly layered sedimentary rock.

Devil’s Football, a basalt boulder near the Halfway Area at Skinner State Park, has all these features including a few spots where a compass needle pulls away from north and points to the rock.

Enormous basalt columns, much thicker than large tree trunks and much taller, are scattered throughout the park. Columnar basalt occurs when lava cools more slowly, allowing its fracturing pattern to gradually develop. Titan’s Piazza at Skinner State Park is a stunning example.

The park offers many hiking trails and breathtaking views of the Connecticut River Valley. Reach the summit of Mt. Holyoke by road or hiking trail.

Self-guided Geology Walking Tour Download 

There are several places to park for the geology walking tour at Skinner State Park:

• At the Skinner State Park Main Gate parking area.

• Along the unpaved section of Skinner Park Road (note that the road is one-way).

• At the Halfway Area parking lot.

• At the Summit parking lot.

For the Mt. Holyoke Range State Park, park at the Visitors Center on Rte. 116.


September 25, 2021


Summit House & Joseph Allen Skinner State Park
Route 47 on 10 Skinner State Park Road
Hadley, MA 01035
+ Google Map
(413) 586-0350
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