Backcountry in the Berkshires: Mount Greylock’s Thunderbolt Trail

Berkshire Mountains in Winter
The Berkshires

The Start

Mount Greylock is the highest peak in Massachusetts and it’s home to the very popular Thunderbolt Trail. I’d done this itinrary a few times before, but on this day we opted for the “alpine start” and got on snow by 5:30AM on a Sunday morning because I had work at 11:00am and a 90 minute commute from the mountain. We could make that happen, right?

Berkshire Sunrise

The Skin Up

The skin up was beautiful and we had the pleasure of being joined by sunrise not too long after we left the Gould Parking lot. The Adams area seems to consistently get more snowfall than many of the nearby zones so even without any new snow in the past week, things were looking up. As we started to make our way up the main Thunderbolt uptrack things got slick. Apparently there was a SkiMo race the day before, and the skin track was pretty beat in & iced over. One thing I will say about Thunderbolt and Greylock in general is that things are extremely well marked. It’s pretty intuitive to know the route you want to take but if you don’t there is a ton of trail signage, kiosks & other markings that make the uphill smooth sailing.

It took us about an hour and a half to summit, maybe a bit longer. We hung out and transitioned over in the shelter up top, which on a windy day is a MUST.

The Thunderbolt Trail at Mt Greylock

The Descent

Okay, so normally this is the best part, but on this day it was absolute garbage until the last 500 feet. It was an iced over mogul field and honestly, that was fine with us. The views on Greylock are beautiful and the terrain is excellent even if the snow wasn’t ideal. The best part was skiing the old lift line toward the bottom where things had softened up a bit.

Strava Screenshot
My Strava from that day (I forgot to start it until about a ½ mile in)

The Recap

All in the adventure took us 2 hours and 20 minutes (according to my Strava) and I was back home with time to spare to head into work.

This is a must-do especially if you’re localish, and are looking to test yourself in some relatively safe backcountry terrain before going up further north. The up is hard, but it’s not a death march, just pace yourself. The terrain down is somewhat challenging and varied but very minimal avalanche/slide risk. So grab a ski partner and get after it! If you’d like pointers or even want to get out for a lap, shoot me an email at Adam@outofpodcast.com.

Adam Jaber
Adam Jaber
Adam Jaber is an expert in the bike and ski industry and the host of the Out of Bounds Podcast.

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