We weren’t sure what to expect when we decided to hike Monument Mountain. We were looking for a place that would offer both a fairly easy hike as well as a more challenging one. The trail head which is on the right side of route 7 coming from Stockbridge, offered just what we were looking for. To the right was the Hickey trail which they listed as the strenuous ascent. To the left was the Indian Monument trail which was described as the leisurely ascent. We decided to start out on the easy route. While this wasn’t a difficult trail, I’m also not sure I would call it leisurely. We hiked this trail until we came to a trail split which gave us a choice of continuing on the easy trail or taking the “steep” squaw peek trail. We decided to try the steep trail because we were looking for something more challenging; it was also a more direct route to the peak and we wanted to see the Devils Pulpit. The Devils Pulpit is a small diversion from the main trail but well worth the short steep climb up some rock stairs. The views were amazing from there. We continued on to the peak which was made up of many large boulders. Even though there were some pine trees slightly obstructing a complete 360 degree view, it was still breathtaking.
We were alone at the summit and we took the time to relax in the sun and enjoy the breeze. We decided to take the Hickey trail back and yes it was fairly steep but not to the point that any of us felt we couldn’t handle it. The Hickey trail was a little different; steep but not nearly as rocky. There were a couple of simple bridges to help you cross a stream. There was also a small waterfall and as you get closer to the end of the trail you come to the rocky side of the mountain which I am told has some caves. At this point we were too tired to explore, but we could feel the cool almost cold air in this area which tells me the cave accounts are probably true.
I think that while all of us really enjoyed this hike, we were also surprised at how much it took out of us. With all our stops and the time we enjoyed at the summit, it took us almost 3 hours to complete. None of us are really avid hikers and you would never find us on the high peaks of New York, which is something to keep in mind when I say this: I would rate this hike as easy (Indian Monument Trail) to moderate (Hickey and Squaw Peak Trails). Great views, interesting rock formations and even found some plant life I haven’t seen in years (lady slippers). There were some kids as well as older people on this trail. Caution should be taken here as there are dangers off the trail with sharp drop offs and even a few dangers on the trail with narrow ledges, so keep your eyes on the little ones. Getting there: Monument Mountain is located in Great Barrington Massachusetts about 3 miles from Stockbridge on Route 7. The GPS coordinates are Lat.42.2453661 Lon.73.3406652. Here is a web link: http://www.berkshirehiking.com/hikes/monument_mountain.html
From here you can click on Monument Mountains Official Website and then click on Maps and Resources for a printable topographical map.