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Northfield Mountain, Fall Hike

November 17, 2023

National Hiking Day is November 17. Also known as “Take A Hike Day,” it may be one of the most important holidays out there. Why? For starters, there’s more than 60,000 miles of trails across the nation. Not to mention, hiking is great exercise allowing you to burn over 550 calories per hour. Plus, being in the outdoors allows you to get away from your phone and appreciate nature’s beauty and wonder. 

November’s hike of the month climbs steadily uphill to the summit of Hill 1050 with views of our Upper Reservoir and beyond. Wide forested trails and a pedestrian friendly paved road allow hikers to keep their heartbeat up while easily social distancing. Highlights along the way include a porcupine den amongst tumbled rocks where Sugarbush and Hemlock Hill intersect and abandoned stone quarries tucked along-side Hemlock Hill below Rock Oak Ramble. Keep an eye out for parallel finger-size grooves drilled into the rock centuries ago.

Before heading out for this 4 mile round trip adventure be sure to click here to download a trail map or take a photo of the map posted on the Visitor Center doors. From the pond behind the Center follow blue diamonds marking the Hidden Quarry Trail. At the opening under the power lines continue up Hemlock Hill to Reservoir Road. Follow the paved route to the summit. Just after the road bends sharply to the right is a grassy knoll on your left providing a spot to rest and enjoy the view at 1050 feet above sea level. Retrace your steps back to the Center or add an extra 1/2 mile and follow the paved road down to the intersection with Tooleybush in Fullers Pasture. Brisk temperatures and sunlit scarlet and russet oak leaves make late fall a great time to walk in the woods.

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The late autumn shades of oak leaves provide welcome color to a changing landscape.  Long after maple trees are bare, oaks still celebrate the glory of fall. More subdued than the fiery blaze of October’s foliage, oak leaves come in a range of colors.  From deep red to purple, from gold to brown, these warm earth tones contrast with the green pines, stone walls and gray boulders dotting the landscape.  As an added bonus, beeches and oaks often keep their leaves during the cold months, offering our winter landscape a touch of bronze and brown.

Click here to download our latest scavenger hunt. Search for clues about what is happening in the natural world in late autumn as animals prepare for winter. Will you find signs that animals have dined on pine cones and acorns? A leaf that an insect has nibbled? A place for an animal to hide? Enjoy a family walk on our trails or in your neighborhood as you hone your nature detective skills. Download and go and most importantly, have fun being outside together!


Hiking wasn’t always the fashionable pastime it is today. Before the Subarus and the Jeeps and the Patagonias built an industry around the activity, walking – of any kind – was considered an activity for the impoverished or the vagrant. Until the Romantic era of the Victorian years inspired the likes of Walden and Thoreau to reconnect with nature and that, in turn, inspired the landscape architects to design parks with excellent walking trails (looking at you Frederick Law Olmsted of Central Park fame). Walking then became something of the educated, the unhurried, the luxurious. 
Until John Muir came along and walked his way through the Sierra Nevadas in California and demanded that not only hiking, walking, meandering, sojourning, whatever you want to call it be accessible to every American citizen, but that the country should actively preserve natural areas of pristine ecology and beauty. So in 1890 he petitioned for the creation of the National Park System and we were endowed with “America’s best idea” – Yosemite and Sequoia National Park. 
But even before Muir, on the east coast a small group of people had banded together in 1876 to form the Appalachian Mountain Club, which had a goal to protect and preserve all hiking trails along the historic mountain range, as well as develop new ones. 
So whether you prefer to hit the jogging trails in Central Park or are prepping to backpack the entire Pacific Crest Trail, every step on a trail is with a long line of explorers, trailblazers, and activists from before. 


November 17, 2023


Northfield Mountain Recreation & Environmental Center
99 Millers Falls Road, RT 63
Northfield, MA 01360
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(800) 859-2960
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