Pine Cobble (1,894 feet), to the northeast of Williamstown, offers one of the finest panoramic views of the Hoosic River valley. Within easy walking distance of the Williams College campus, this hike is a favorite with many Williams College students. The word “cobble” refers to the exposed outcropping of quartzite bedrock that is the destination of most of those who use the trail. On a clear day, the outcrop is easily visible from the valley floor, several miles away.
- Distances: 1.6 miles to Pine Cobble, 2.1 miles to Appalachian Trail.
- Estimated time: 1 hour to Pine Cobble.
- Blazes: Blue.
- Maintenance: Williams Outing Club.
How To Get There
- Head north across the Williams campus. Pass the tennis courts and walk down Stetson Rd. to Cole Field. Follow the road around Eph’s Pond, east through a gate to Cole Avenue. Turn left, cross the Hoosic River to the intersection with North Hoosac Rd. Diagonally right across North Hoosac Rd., Cole’s Grove Rd., around a gate and into the Pine Cobble Development. At the mailboxes, turn right. The trailhead is 300 yards down the road on the left.
- Take Route 2 east from its junction with Route 7.
- After 0.6 mi., turn left on Cole Ave. at the first stoplight.
- You will cross a bridge over the Hoosic River and railroad tracks just before North Hoosac Rd.
- Turn right on N. Hoosac (1.4 mi.) and then left on Pine Cobble Road at 1.8 miles.
- Park in the parking area on the left 0.2 mi. up the hill. The trailhead is across the road.
At the Pine Cobble Trail sign (0.0 mi.) hike parallel to the road for 200 yards before turning left and ascending gradually into the woods. The trail levels out on a plateau (0.5 mi.), once the shore of glacial Lake Bascom that filled the entire Hoosac Valley to a depth of about 500 feet!
A side trail to the right marks the halfway point (0.8 mi.). It leads 350 feet downhill to Bear Spring, a slight upwelling at the base of a steep cliff topped with hemlocks. Since the spring is the only open water on the south side of Pine Cobble, it attracts many species of wildlife, including chipmunks, rabbits and deer.
Continue at a moderately steep grade, to a more level area at 1.0 mi. where the trail turns to the southeast. Yellow diamond-shaped tags mark the entrance to the WRLF Pine Cobble Summit Natural Area of Clarksburg State Forest. Cross two small jumbled rock outcroppings and follow a sharp left turn at the intersection with an old trail (1.1 mi.).
Watch for an unusual triplet oak tree with a water-filled basin at its center (1.4 mi.). After the original tree was cut down, three shoots sprouted around the edges of the old stump while the center rotted away. This flat section of the trail is also an excellent place to see trailing arbutus, the Massachusetts state flower, which usually blooms in early April.
A steep stretch completes the climb (1.5 mi.). From the trail sign at the crest of the hill, several short (0.1 mi.) trails to the right lead out onto the quartzite outcrops of Pine Cobble. Enjoy an excellent view of the Greylock Range across the valley to the south, with the summit of Mt. Greylock clearly distinguished by the war memorial and communications towers. The Taconic Range forms the western horizon, while the top of the Dome is visible to the north. Looking down into the Hoosic River valley, North Adams is to the east and Williamstown to the south.
From the trail sign north you pass an anchor point for an old fire tower and emerge onto a boulder field. A short climb leads to the summit of East Mountain, where the Pine Cobble Trail joins the Appalachian Trail (2.1 mi.). The site of an old forest fire, now covered with blueberry bushes, it provides nice views of the Taconic and Greylock Ranges.
Text From The Williams Outing North Berkshire Outdoor Guide © 1999 Williams Outing Club
Printed Map and Guide are for sale in the Equipment Room.