Skinner State Park, about 30 miles north of Springfield, Massachusetts, is part of the Holyoke Range and was named after Joseph Skinner, who donated the nearly 400 acres of land in the 1940s. The park is known for its views of the Connecticut River Valley, and its vast forests are filled with trails and walking paths well suited for hikers who want to explore the terrain.
Several longer trails that become part of other mountain chains cut through Skinner State Park. One such trail is the Metacomet-Monadnock Trail (amcbirkshire.org/mm-trail), which runs about 115 miles from Connecticut through New Hampshire. About 11 miles of that trail pass through Skinner State Park. Hikers can identify the trail by official white-painted rectangles posted on trees, rocks and signs. A map of the entire trail, as well as trail conditions, is available online and updated regularly.
Lithia Springs Trail
About two miles west from the North Entrance of Skinner State Park rest the Lithia Springs. There is a trail to the springs that winds through the forests of the park. Hiking, horseback riding and mountain bikes are allowed on this trail although it is not paved. Hikers should note that they must step aside for equestrians and mountain bikers. The Springs are beautiful in the warm months, and they make a nice destination for those wishing to spend a morning in the park.
Self-Guided Geology Hike
Skinner State Park developed a geology guide to rocks and landforms in the park, which can be printed from its website (mass.gov/dcr/parks/skinner). Starting from the main gate, the guide points out numbered points of interest and provides a little history concerning the geologic background. The hike can vary in length, depending on how many spots hikers want to see.
Northside and Parker Trails
From the North Entrance, the Northside and Parker trails circle two larger landforms in Skinner State Park, Tinker Hill and Little Tinker. Tinker Hill is nearly 700 feet tall, and Little Tinker is nearly 550. There are four or five ponds along these trails, and the trails are open to hikers and riders alike. Given the steep incline of the area, these trails are recommended for experienced hikers.
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