BACKPACKING IN MASSACHUSETTS
Welcome to the Newenglandwaterfalls.com guide to backpacking in Massachusetts!
You'll find a lot of opportunities for backpacking in Massachusetts, especially in the Berkshires region. The Appalachian Trail passes through a good chunk of western Massachusetts, but that's hardly the only trail worth backpacking in the state.
The premier backpacking destinations of Massachusetts include:
Here is a list of all of the fantastic backpacking opportunities in Massachusetts. If you think I've missed any backpacking trips in Massachusetts, please email me @ email@example.com.
views from Mt. Race
Race Brook Falls
Peck's Brook Shelter, Mount Greylock
Royalston Falls Shelter
monument at the top of Mount Greylock
TIPS FOR BACKPACKING IN MASSACHUSETTS
1. Get and use the excellent AMC Massachusetts Trail Guide (2016 edition).
2. Use Trailsnh.com, Newenglandtrailconditions.com, Vftt.org or other internet sites to obtain the latest in trail conditions (especially in winter, when conditions can be highly variable).
3. Buy the a guidebooks and actually read each relevant chapter before you take a backpacking trip.
4. Bring friends with you on your backpacking adventures (so long as you sincerely believe they will be capable of hiking these mountains and will actually enjoy the terrain and trails that you are selecting for them).
5. Invest in high-quality hiking shoes or boots.
6. Save your knees so that you can still hike when you are in your 70's (use trekking poles!).
7. Always leave a note or tell someone which mountain and trails you will be hiking (too many people get lost and/or injured in these mountains).
8. Don't leave anything valuable in your car (too many break-ins have been occurring, unfortunately).
9. Learn the value of hitch-hiking, using a car-spot, and/or mountain biking between trailheads (a traverse is always more interesting than an out-and-back hike!).
10. Most people avoid backpacking in Massachusetts from November through April (the conditions are usually not favorable).
11. Start your hikes early (i.e. before 6:30-7:00am) to beat most of the crowds and have a better shot of grabbing a space within a shelter or at an established tent site.
12. Study hiking maps and be creative in the routes you take (you don't always have to take the easiest or most-straightforward trails).
13. Mid-week September hiking is amazing. Hike at least once during this time-frame (call out sick from work if you have to).
14. Carry the appropriate food based on the season you are hiking in (some foods will melt in summer, and some foods become rock-solid in winter).
15. Attack some burgers and beers after at least some of the hikes (or all of them). You've earned it.
16. Get that $20 REI membership to save 8-10% on all full-price REI purchases for the rest of your life (you have no idea how much time you'll probably spend at their stores and on rei.com). Also, strongly consider getting the REI credit card (you can earn hundreds of dollars in dividends each year if you use this credit card as your primary card for your non-REI purchases!).
17. Do the great mountains on the bluebird days, and the less interesting mountains on the overcast or lousy-weather days.
18. Don't miss backpacking in the Berkshires during peak fall foliage.
19. Enjoy that Gatorade (or some other drink that has electrolytes).
20. Ibuprofen can be extremely helpful in controlling pain and/or reducing swelling.
21. Be safe out there - these mountains can be nasty (even deadly) in adverse weather conditions. Snow and ice can also be very problematic.
22. If you are short on hiking friends, consider joining a Meetup hiking group (there are several groups and they always have good hikes planned).
23. Spend time perusing at least a few gear stores that focus on hiking & backpacking equipment.
24. Take a wilderness first aid course.
25. Try to read the weather frequently while hiking, and react quickly to changes in clouds.
26. Don't be afraid to turn back if your energy levels are low or the weather is deteriorating (most hikers will be turned back at some point).
27. Catch a sunset or sunrise from a mountain top (bring at least one headlamp).
28. Always treat water before drinking it (use iodine, boil, or use a filter)
29. Try to limit your first backpacking trip to no more than 6-8 miles a day (some will want to do even less miles than this)
30. Don't forget your camera, and remember to label the pictures after you are done with each hike (you'll want to capture these moments).
BACKPACKING IN THE OTHER NEW ENGLAND STATES
Newenglandwaterfalls.com has also created backpacking guides to some of the other New England states. Those pages can be found here:
Here is a quick packing list for your next backpacking trip. You probably won't want or need to bring all these items, but I have listed them here anyway for your consideration.
GUIDEBOOKS TO GET YOU THERE
The following guidebooks are trusted resources to help on backpacking trips in Massachusetts. Click on any book to read reviews and/or purchase on Amazon.com. I personally own (and love) each of these guidebooks.
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