What more fitting place for an autumnal hike than October Mountain? This beautiful feature in the central Berkshires offers a gorgeous state forest full of fall foliage during the autumn season. Glowing red, burning orange, and golden yellow hues light up the entire mountain range in a glorious display that will leave you short of breath. Here are just a few things you should know about October Mountain, including some great activities you can enjoy during the fall.
October Mountain History
The name for October Mountain is, in fact, attributed to American author and poet Herman Melville. In his Pittsfield home, Melville could view the stunning hills in the distance, and the scenery during the fall particularly impressed him. He first mentioned October Mountain briefly in a short story from 1853, titled “Cock-a-doodle-doo.” Later, he wrote another short story called “October Mountain,” in which the official name originated. The land itself once belonged to the estate of William C. Whitney, who was President Grover Cleveland’s Secretary of the Navy. It was purchased in 1915 by a group of individuals and donated to the state for preservation purposes. It was also the harboring grounds for Gideon Smith during the Revolutionary War. Smith was discovered to be harboring a British prisoner-of-war. He hid in a gorge until the end of the war that was later called Tory Cave.
Is October Mountain Haunted?
There are some folklore and ghost tales surrounding October Mountain. Whether this stems from its Halloween-centric name or the apparently haunted 19th-century cemetery among the trees, it is not certain. At this cemetery, visitors have been said to hear strange humming sounds and see a ghoulish girl in a white dress among the tombstones. The girl is thought to be Anna Pease, who died in 1829 at the age of 10 and is the only female child buried in the graveyard.
However, more than ghosts are said to haunt October Mountain. In 1983, two Pittsfield men were enjoying a picnic near an old boy scout camp site on Felton Lake when they saw a bizarre creature in the woods. It was described as brown, six to seven feet tall, and featuring glowing eyes. A similar sighting was later reported in 1989 when a hiker saw something large move among the trees about 100 yards away. He claimed to have seen the same type of creature covered in fur with a human face and very long arms and grubbing for roots and insects.
U.F.O.s have even made the list of bizarre sightings on October Mountain. In 1970, a boy scout saw two strange lights hovering in the sky. He claimed that they seemed to be checking a particular spot in the forest over and over again. After five minutes, they supposedly launched vertically into the sky at an extremely high speed. These mysteries are a part of the lure to October Mountain and part of its history.
October Mountain Hiking
The 16,500-acre expanse makes October Mountain the largest state forest in the state of Massachusetts.There are opportunities for camping, hiking, and more among the glorious forested expanse. An October Mountain State Forest trail map reveals a variety of paved and unpaved paths. There are also snowshoe and skiing trails available, as well as trails for multi-use, including snowmobiles. Some are even plowed in the winter time to make them more accessible. The Appalachian Trail also runs through the October Mountain State Forest and is available for foot travel only.
Stay in Lenox at Brook Farm Inn
Among your October Mountain hiking adventures and ghost-hunt explorations, you will need a place to stay. Indulge in luxurious accommodations at the Brook Farm Inn. From massages to soothe your aching muscles to a protein-filled breakfast each morning to jumpstart your day, relax. We have a variety of rooms to suit your particular traveling needs. For more information on what to do in the Berkshires during your visit, download our free vacation guide!