Mt. Holyoke Range State Park is located in Pioneer Valley Massachusetts.
From east or west: take the Massachusetts Turnpike (I-90) to exit 5, Rte. 33 north to Rte. 116 north to the Amherst town line.
Recommended mountain bike parking is on Bachelor Street, about 1 mile south of Visitor Center. Take Rt.116 south, left on Amherst St. and another left onto Bachelor St. About .5 mile to trailhead parking.
There is another access to the mountain biking trails in the north via the Holyoke Range Conservation Area. Ask at the Notch Visitors Center on 116 about parking there.
Holyoke Range State Park is comprised of the seven-mile ridge that stretches from Hadley to Belchertown. The range rising to 1,000 feet in elevation, towers above the surrounding miles of flat farm lands provides panoramic views easily accessible by mountain bike. Mostly wooded, the ridge's steep slopes and unusual east-west orientation create distinct forest types. You'll find Birch-beech-hemlock on the north side and oak-hickory on the south. Thickets, streams, ponds, and wetlands add to the diversity.
Over 30 miles of marked trails criss-cross the area and provide a variety of outdoor experiences including mountain biking. Stop by the Notch Visitor Center, located on Route 116 in Amherst to pick up a good trail map: (NEC Holyoke Range State Park Western Section and Eastern Section). It is open daily and features exhibits about paper manufacturing and Holyoke's industrial history.
The Trails in Holyoke Range State Park are geared for moderate and advanced riders. They are mostly challenging double-track with rolling terrain requiring long endurance climbs coupled with steep and sometimes rocky climbs and descents.
There are basically two main loops. One in the northern area and one in the southern area of the park.
Northern Area Loop:
2.5 mile loop using a combination of the Robert Frost and Northside Trails.
Southern Area Loop:
A variety of loop options using a combination of the Upper Access, Lower Access (easier traiil), Southside, Swamp and dedicated Mountain Bike Trail cutoff (Dedicated Mountain Bike Trail Cutoff: 0.3 miles of challenging single-track).
You can connect to the Northern Area's Robert Frost and Northside Trails via the Southside or Swamp Trail.
Horse Caves Legend:
Located at the base of Mt. Norwottuck are the The Horse Caves which were used during Shays' Rebellion in 1786-1787 to hide horses and men. The story goes like this:
After the American Revolution, many soldiers found themselves in debt as they were unable to attend to business and property while they were fighting. Farmers who were unable to pay taxes and debts had their property and livestock confiscated by the courts.
Daniel Shays, a captain of the Revolution, organized a rebellion. Fifty Massachussets towns sent representatives to a meeting in which a letter of greivances was drawn and then sent to the state legislature in Boston. When the letter was ignored, the citizens formed an army and forced the courts to stop issuing judgments against those in debt. Their success was short-lived. When the Massachusetts state militia was called in, Shays rag-tag army fled in retreat to The Horse Caves to hide.
For more information:
Holyoke Range State Park