• Amherst-area activities, attractions, explorations and events that may interest you during your stay at the Birdsong Bed & Breakfast.

Climb a Mountain

5 accessible mountain summits with striking views.

Twilight over Mount Norwottuck, view from Mount Pollux. Photo by Ben Kimball.

Photo by Ben Kimball

Twilight over Mount Norwottuck, view from Mount Pollux.

The 100-mile-long Metacomet Ridge, which encompasses the nearby Holyoke Range, is well known for its spectacular cliffs and breathtaking hiking trails.  Its Amherst sector includes a handful of summits with arresting views that can be attained after an easy to moderate hike.


View Mountains of Amherst in a larger map

Mountains of Amherst

Mountains of Amherst

  1. Bare Mountain – At 1014 foot (309m), Bare Mountain is prominent on the Holyoke Range skyline west of Route 116 and “the Notch.” Park at the Notch Visitor Center on Route 116 and hike up a fairly steep half-mile stretch of the Metacomet-Monadnock (M&M) Trail. Part way up is an overlook where there is an interesting view down into the Lane & Sons Quarry.
  2. Mount Norwottuck – The highest peak in the Holyoke Range at 1106 feet (337m), it was known as Hilliard Knob until 1846 when eminent geologist and president of Amherst College Edward Hitchcock renamed it Mount Norwottuck after the native American name for the nearby village of Hadley. It straddles the Amherst-Granby line. The summit is reached after a 1-mile hike from the Notch Visitor Center along the M&M Trail.
  3. Rattlesnake Knob – Here you will find a peaceful and secluded lookout over forest lowlands and Long Mountain. The Knob lies about 0.8 miles beyond Mount Norwottuck on the M&M Trail.
  4. Mount Pollux – Only 350 feet in elevation, Mount Pollux barely qualifies as a mountain, but it offers a spectacular panoramic view of South Amherst and Mount Norwottuck. Park in the parking area just south of #1403 South East St., and walk 200 yards to the summit.
  5. Mount Orient – 955-foot (291m) Mount Orient is technically in Pelham, but can be reached from Amherst’s Amethyst Brook Conservation Area by walking 2.5 miles along the Robert Frost Trail. The peak affords a pleasant view to the south.

Further Reading

Posted in Hiking | Leave a comment

Embrace Emily Dickinson

Tour local landmarks associated with poet Emily Dickinson.

Emily Dickinson mural outside Rao's Coffee, by Trace Meek

Emily Dickinson mural outside Rao’s Coffee

Amherst offers a unique opportunity to become better acquainted with the great 19th Century poet, Emily Dickinson, who spent her entire life here. An excellent way to learn about her life and legacy is to take a walking tour of the numerous Dickinson-related sites in the center of town.


View Emily Dickinson in Amherst in a larger map

Emily Dickinson in Amherst

Emily Dickinson in Amherst

  1. Dickinson Homestead, 280 Main St. – Emily Dickinson’s birthplace and home for most of her life, it is now headquarters of the Emily Dickinson Museum which is owned and operated by Amherst College.
  2. The Evergreens, 214 Main St. – Home of Austin Dickinson, Emily’s brother, The Evergreens was built in 1856 and has been preserved to remain as it was in the poet’s lifetime. It is part of the Emily Dickinson Museum complex.
  3. West Cemetery, Triangle St. – Emily Dickinson was buried in West Cemetery on May 19, 1886, alongside the graves of her parents, Edward and Emily Norcross Dickinson.
  4. Wildwood Cemetery, 70 Strong St. – Austin Dickinson helped to establish and design Wildwood Cemetery, and was buried there in 1895.
  5. Jones Library, 43 Amity St. – The Jones began accumulating Dickinson material in 1921. The Emily Dickinson Collection now consists of approximately 7000 items including manuscripts, scholarly articles and books, newspaper clippings, photographs and artwork.
  6. Amherst Academy, Amity St. – Emily Dickinson attended coed classes at the academy from age 9 through 16. The school closed in 1861 and was razed in 1867, and the site is now a parking lot.
  7. First Church, South Pleasant St. – As a child, Emily Dickinson attended services here with her family. The church moved to a lofty, new stone structure on Main St. in 1868. The original church is now an Amherst College building, College Hall.
  8. Helen Hunt Jackson House, 249 South Pleasant St. – A contemporary and classmate of Emily Dickinson, Helen Hunt Jackson‘s literary fame, gained from works such as the novel Ramona, eclipsed Dickinson’s during the poet’s lifetime. Jackson recognized Dickinson’s genius and urged her to submit her poetry for publication.
  9. Frost Library, Amherst College – Amherst College’s Frost Library houses a valuable special collection of Emily Dickinson matter including the original 1847 daguerreotype considered the only existing photograph of Emily Dickinson until a new candidate surfaced about 2007.
  10. The Dell, 97 Spring St. – Austin Dickinson provided a plot of land to David and Mabel Loomis Todd on which they built their home known as “The Dell”. The Todd House was eventually moved across Spring St. and a new building which now houses Five Colleges, Inc. was built on the site.

 

A more extensive map of Dickinson-related historic and commemorative places has been created by the Emily Dickinson Museum.

The Emily Dickinson Museum’s operating schedule varies according to the season.  See the Tours, Rates and Hours page to find out when they are open.

Also check out the Museums’s schedule of public events and programs.

The Amherst chapter of the Emily Dickinson International Society meets the 1st Friday and 3rd Thursday each month at the Jones Library.

 

Posted in Five Colleges, Museum, Walking | Leave a comment

Head to a Playground

Parents of young children will appreciate the fact that Amherst offers several modern and well-equipped public playground facilities. All have undergone renovation in the past 10 years, and each is situated in a recreation area that offers amenities such as ball fields, tennis and basketball courts, and hiking trails.

Please note that the three public school playgrounds are not open during hours that school is in session.

Amherst Playgrounds

Click for a larger map

Playgrounds in Amherst

  1. Crocker Farm Elementary School, 280 West St. – The Crocker Farm playground was rebuilt in 2010, and has capacity for more than 100 children. It  features a variety of hanging, sliding and climbing structures, an X-Wave and a 50-foot zip line. Basketball courts, soccer fields and access to the K.C. Trail are nearby. There’s a separate set of play equipment on the north side of the school.
  2. Groff Park, Mill Lane. – In addition to playground equipment for al ages, Groff Park features a picnic pavillion, wading pool, sandbox, softball field and public restroom. It sits aside the Fort River and overlooks the western end of the Emily Dickinson Trail.
  3. Fort River Elementary School, 70 South East St. – A large wooden play apparatus is surrounded by soccer fields, a baseball field and a basketball court. By the parking lot is a restroom building. A smaller play area is located by the northeast corner of the school.
  4. Memorial Pool, Triangle St. – Walking distance from downtown, this pool and park complex features a modest playground set. It is adjacent to Amherst Regional High School’s athletic fields and running track.
  5. Wildwood Elementary School, 70 Strong St. – Wildwood features an elaborate balancing and climbing structure overlooking playing fields and tennis courts.
  6. Mill River Recreational Area, 95 Montague Rd. – This recreation complex in North Amherst is the town’s largest.  It features both a toddlers’ and children’s playground.  In addition you will find a swimming pool, wading pool, baseball field, tennis courts, basketball courts, picnic area and access to the Julius Lester Trail.
Zip line at Crocker Farm School

Zip line at Crocker Farm School

Our 7-year-old son Cameron will never turn down an opportunity to visit any one of Amherst’s playgrounds, but he tells me that his favorite local playground is the large wooden, child-worn structure at the Chestnut Hill Recreation Area about 9 miles away on State St. in Belchertown.

Posted in Children | Leave a comment