Skinner State Park

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10 Skinner State Park Rd, Hadley, MA 01035, United States

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Introduction of Skinner State Park

At the western extremity of the Holyoke Range on Mount Holyoke, J.A. Skinner State Park spans more than 400 acres of woodland. It provides beautiful views of the valley of the Connecticut River. Road access to the top is available from April through November, while hiking paths are open all year. From Memorial Day to Columbus Day, The Summit House, a well-known mountaintop hotel in the 1800s, is available for tours and programming that include historical exhibits and special events. Joseph Allen Skinner, a successful businessman who donated the hotel and property to the state in 1940, is honoured by having the park bear his name.

On the property, there are 20 picnic areas, several of which have beautiful views and charcoal barbecues. Bathrooms are accessible from mid-May until mid-October. Spring and October are prime seasons for hawk viewing. Marked trails that travel the Holyoke Range may be reached by paths from the Summit House. The park is a favourite place to observe the fall foliage, and in June, the mountain laurel is in full bloom and makes for a lovely sight. The Friends of the Park organisation organises treks all year long and holds a summer music series inside the Summit House at dusk.

at Skinner State Park
CC: Social Channel of park

Skinner State Park Activities


Boating can be done with or without a motor. Options for parasailing are available.


Mountain biking is permitted anywhere other than the white-blazed Metacomet-Monadnock path, despite the fact that the steep terrain makes it challenging.


Fishing is legal here. For information on fishing licences and rules, kindly get in touch with the park.


At any season of the year, hiking is a terrific method to reach the top home. There are trailheads near the main entrance and off of Route 47. (see trail map). The majority of the 7.5 miles of the path are moderate to challenging. Hikers in the winter need to be ready for ice or deep snow.

Historic Sites

The westernmost point of the Mount Holyoke Range, Mount Holyoke, is encircled by Skinner State Park, which also includes its summit. The peak, which is just under 1,000 feet high, offers a panoramic view of the valley below and the highlands beyond, including Mount Monadnock in New Hampshire to the north, Mount Greylock to the west, and East Rock in Connecticut to the south. The Massachusetts cities of Northampton, Holyoke, and Springfield are open to visitors. On clear days, Hartford, Connecticut, is visible.

The Connecticut River has long served as a route for trade and travel for Native Americans. With the arrival of Europe, this trend was repeated. Cities like Hartford and Springfield expanded from little towns to become significant hubs of business and population. For agriculture, grazing, and the collection of wood products, the Valley woods were destroyed, exposing the rich soils and more rugged highland areas.

Mt. Holyoke was important to the formation of American culture beginning in the early 1800s. The vista from the peak, which featured cultivated agricultural fields flanked by rocky mountains and dense forest, depicted a young nation converting its environment from one of untamed wildness to one of civilised scenery. In those days, Mount Holyoke was the second-most popular tourist attraction after Niagara Falls thanks to its view.

One of Massachusetts’s greatest surviving intact woods is found in the Mt. Holyoke Range (over 8,000 acres, including Mount Tom). The forest, an abundant blend of oak, pine, and hemlock, guards the water quality of surrounding streams that feed the Connecticut River. Additionally, thousands of migratory birds, including some species that are federally listed, utilise it as a landmark in the autumn.


There are 13 picnic tables and grills at the picnic area at Mount Holyoke’s top, several of which provide breathtaking views of the valley below. Please keep in mind that there is a “carry in, carry out” policy in effect at all Massachusetts State Parks, meaning that you must remove any trash you bring with you.

Winter Sports

Cross-country skiing and snowshoeing: While none of the paths are maintained, backcountry skiing is possible on a few of them. In situations of deep snow, snow shoes are a suitable solution. Snowmobiling: Only snowmobiles are allowed for off-road travel, and only in snow that is at least 4 inches thick and well-packed. Snowmobiles are never permitted on ploughed surfaces.

Skinner State Park History 

In its heyday, a boat would pick up visitors at the Smiths Ferry train station in what was then Northampton, across the Connecticut River, and transport them to a tramway that led to the Half Way House. Visitors have the option of ascending to the peak via a tram from that location. The Prospect House, owned by John and Fanny French, saw two expansions: the first took place in 1861, and the second roughly quadrupled the property’s size with the addition of an extension in 1894.

The property was bought by the Mt. Holyoke Hotel Company in 1908. To hold the property in trust for a potential state reservation, Christopher Clarke, L. Treadway, a well-known local hotelier, and Joseph Skinner, an entrepreneur, established this organisation. The 1894 addition was severely damaged by the Great Hurricane of 1938, but the hotel kept going until it was eventually dismantled. Soon after, Joseph Allan Skinner made the Commonwealth of Massachusetts an offer to accept his name-brand state park in exchange for the hotel and the surrounding acreage. In June 1940, a ceremonial dedication took place.

During those years, there were not enough state funding to maintain the summit residence and tramway. In 1964, the tramway’s remnants were removed, and by the middle of the 1970s, there were plans to condemn and demolish the top residence. After widespread uproar, the state restored the Summit House, which consists of the original 1851 building and the 1861 expansion. Following 2014 restoration work, the structure was reopened for visits.

skinner house in the clouds Skinner State Park
CC: Social Channel of park

Park Partners

Friends of the Mount Holyoke Range

A nonprofit group called Friends of the Mount Holyoke Range is committed to protecting the environment, as well as the natural and cultural heritage, of the Range. In addition to aiding in preservation efforts, the club arranges educational programmes and public events, builds and maintains trails, and engages in a variety of outdoor activities. A Trail Breakfast held in conjunction with the Seven Sisters Trail Run on the first Sunday in May, the 5K Summit Run on the third Sunday in September, and the summer Sunset Concert Series concerts held within the Summit House are all examples of fundraising activities. Contact Friends of the Mt. Holyoke Range at PO Box 728, South Hadley, MA 01075, for further details on membership.

(413) 325-4029



In the western portion of central Massachusetts sits Skinner State Park.

From the east or the west, take the Massachusetts Pike (Route I-90) to exit 5, then take Routes 33 and 116 north to Route 47 (a distance of about four miles). At Mountain Road, the park entry is on the right.

From the north: * Travel south on I-91 to exit 19, then east on Route 9 to south on Route 47. At Mountain Road, the park entry is on the left.

From the south, go north on I-91 to exit 16, then east on Route 202 to Route 116, and finally left on Route 47. At Mountain Road, the park entry is on the right.


Hang Gliding and Paragliding: Pilots of hang gliders and paragliders must hold a class II or higher USHGA licence and receive an annual permit. You must sign in every day as well.


Parking is available.

Public Transport

Public Transport is available.

Skinner State Park Photos

Skinner State Park Map