An itching to go outside, but don't know where to head? Try these local favorites.



Less than Two Hours

More than Two Hours

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Puffer's Pond

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Puffer's Pond is a popular destination near Amherst. Swimming is allowed and non-lethal in the fall and spring. Winter is nice, too, although the swimming then leans towards the lethal end of the spectrum.~10 min. drive.
  • Head North on Pleasant Street (towards Antonio's)
  • Drive through town, and keep going straight until Pleasant street ends at a stop sign. (2 3/4 miles)
  • At the stop sign, make a left onto Pine St. and then an immediate right onto Sand Hill Road

  • At the first 4 way intersection on Sand Hill Rd. make a right turn, and the parking lot for the South shore of Puffer's Pond is in 1/4 mile.
    OR
    Head through the first 4 way intersection, and over the bridge. 100 yards after the bridge is a gravel road and small parking area on the right. Park here and head up the hill to the North shore of Puffer's Pond.

Guru's Waterfall

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This hike is as long as you make it. The shortest version is less than a mile walk along mostly flat terrain. This part takes you across a set of train tracks and leads to a babbling brook and a cascading waterfall. ~20 min. round trip. Continuing up and northwest from the brook, the trail eventually reaches an old fire road which continues to the top of Mt. Toby. This hike is longer, and involves some route-finding guesswork. At the top of Mt. Toby is an old fire tower. ~2 hour round trip.
  • Head North on Pleasant Street (towards Antonio's)
  • Drive through town, and keep going straight until Pleasant street ends at a stop sign.
  • At the stop sign, make a left onto Pine St. and then an immediate right onto Sand Hill Road.
  • Continue straight on Sand Hill Road. It will merge with Pulpit Hill Road, heading West.
  • When Pulpit Hill Road ends at a stop sign, turn right onto RT 63.
  • Drive on Rt. 63 for 5.3 Miles.

  • Turn Left into a parking lot with a sign that says "Guru Ramdas Ashram." Make sure to pay the $1 parking fee. The trail begins to the North of the parking lot.

Quabbin Reservior

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The Quabbin is one of the most wild places in Western Massachussets, but it's also one of the most artificial. Created in the 1930s as a water supply for Metropolitan Boston, it was formed by damming the Swift river and flooding five towns. Today it is a protected reserve, with lots of hiking trails and nice beaches. Swimming, camping, fires and pets are prohibited, and can carry a hefty fine. Two good hikes are noted in the directons.~20 min. drive.
  • Hikes A & B (first map): Head East on Route 9(Under the bridge and towards Pelham)
  • Continue on Rt. 9 for about 12.5 miles, until you see a large sign on the left for the Quabbin Reservoir.
  • Turn left to the MDC headquarters. After you cross Winsor dam, make the next left along the spillway. This road eventually winds by Goodnough Dike, around the spillway, through the rotary, to an intersection. (2 1/4 miles from rt. 9)
  • Turning right at this intersection brings you up a hill to a parking lot and an observation tower with great views of the reservior.
    OR
    Instead of turning at the intersection, you can continue about half a mile to a small parking area and picnic area on the left. This area is close to the water, and the starting point for great short rock beach walks.

  • Hike C (second map): From Amherst, head East along Main street (the one with the Black Sheep on it) about 6.5 miles.
  • Here the road ends in an intersection with US 202.

  • Continue across 202 to a gravel road and a small parking area. From this area, it is a medium length hike down to the water.

Erving State Forest

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Erving State Forest is a nice getaway, fairly close to Amherst. With skiing and snowshoeing in the winter, and swimming, hiking and picnicking in the summer, there's always something to do. It's also a nice place to camp for the evening.~45 min. drive.
  • Head East on Main Street (the one with the Black Sheep on it) about 17 miles to US 202
  • Turn left (North) on 202.
  • Travel for .8 miles, then make a slight left onto rt. 122.
  • Shortly after this turn, take the Rt. 2 West ramp.
  • Merge onto Rt. 2 West, and travel for about 5 miles.

  • The park is on your right. (refer to park map)

Northfield Mountain

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Click here for a zoom / print ready trail map of Northfield Mtn. (pdf file: 471K)


At the top of Northfield Mountain is a large, man-made reservoir. During times of low electricty demand, water is pumped into this reservoir, and at times of high demand, the water is released, generating electricity. While not exactly efficient, this set-up is profitable. As a part of the agreement to use the land, Northfield Utilities is required to maintain the land for recreational use. There is hiking, mountain biking and groomed cross country skiing (including a ski-patrol). In addition, the visitors center hosts regular events such as nature walks and clinics in orienteering. Northfield also boasts one of the areas more popular rock climbing crags, Rose Ledge.~40 min. drive.
  • Follow the directions above to the Guru's Waterfall.
  • Drive past the Guru's parking lot, along 63 for another 8.5 miles. Be careful following 63 through the town of Miller's Falls -- look for big green signs.
  • The turn off for Poplar Mountain Road is on the right, and is a common area for rock climbers to park. Make sure to follow the parking fee instructions at the small parking area .5 miles up on your left.
  • The visitors center is 1/2 mile beyond Poplar Mountain Road, on your right (there's a large sign). From here, you can find trail maps and other resources.

Amethyst Brook Conservation Area

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Amethyst Brook is a short bike ride from the college, and is a great place for a walk any time of year. If you have a longer afternoon, you can ride your bike (or walk) along the Robert Frost trail all the way to Puffer's pond, take a dip and ride back. Amethyst is mostly flat land, with trails leading up to the Pelham hills to the east. The Robert Frost trail follows orange blazes, and there's a trail guide available from the Outing Club. Mountain bikers, please note that there is no biking in the early spring or other times when the trail conditions are muddy, as the bikes can ruin the trails.
  • Head East on Main Street (the street with Black Sheep and Newbury Comics).
  • Drive through the intersection with southeast street (the only light to the east).
  • The parking area is on the left, a mile or so after the light. It's a dirt parking area that's u-shaped.

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