J.A. Skinner State Park Weekly Programs
Weekly schedule for programs for Skinner State Park in Hadley, MA.
On-the-Deck Summit House History, Saturdays, 10:30 – 11:00 a.m. & Sundays, 1:00 – 1:30 p.m.
Suitable for all ages. Park interpretive staff will provide interested visitors with a brief history of the Summit House. Meet on the Summit House deck.
Saturdays, Sept. 2 & 9, 11:30 a.m.-Noon
Monday, Sept. 4, 1:00-1:30 p.m.
Sundays, Sept. 10 & 17, 1:00-1:30 p.m.
What heads north must return south. Warblers and other songbirds can travel vast and remarkable distances in the spring to reach their breeding grounds far north of their winter abodes in Central and South America. In late summer and fall, the pattern reverses. We will explore what to look for and what changes to expect when you venture out for a day of birding during the southbound exodus. For adults and families with children ages 12 and older. Meet on the Summit House deck.
The Evolution Of The Summit House
Saturday, Sept. 2 & 16, 1:00-1:30 p.m.
Sunday, Sept. 10 & 24, 1:00-1:30 p.m.
The first “prospect” or Summit House was a small “refreshment” hut built in a little over a day in the summer of 1821. Learn about the evolution of the Summit House over the past 200 years from a pair of “dueling saloons,” to a small hotel, to a grander hotel, to state park status, and through to today’s museum. For all ages. Meet on Summit House deck.
The Mighty Monarch Migration
Saturdays, Sept. 2, 9, 23, & 30, 2:00-2:30 p.m.
Sunday, Sept. 3, 11:30 a.m.-Noon
Monday, Sept. 11, 1:00-1:30 p.m.
The Monarch Butterfly population is threatened by pesticide use, diminishing habitat, and climate change. Come learn about the remarkable migration this species makes each year in order to breed and survive. Discover how you can help prevent the demise of this beautiful creature. Suitable for all ages. Meet on the Summit House deck.
Sundays, Sept. 3, 10, & 24, 9:30-10:15 a.m.
What better way to connect to the natural world than silent meditation and contemplation while soaking in the beauty of the view from the Summit. Join a park interpreter in a meditation and mindful walk, listening and breathing in the sights and sounds around us. Bring something to sit on or a yoga mat. Suitable for all ages. Meet on Summit House deck.
Geology Rocks Talk
Sunday, Sept. 3, 1:30-2:00 p.m.
Fridays, Sept. 15 & 29, 11:30 a.m.-Noon
Sunday, Sept. 17, 2:00-2:30 p.m.
Monday, Sept. 18, 1:00-1:30 p.m.
From giant mountains to dinosaurs to thick layers of ice, come take a mental and visual journey through the geologic history of our Connecticut River Valley. This presentation will conclude with trail suggestions for self-guided geology hikes around the park.Meet on the Summit House deck. In case of rain, call 413-586-0350 to confirm.
Trepidation On The Tramway
Fridays, Sept. 8 & 22, 11:30 a.m.-Noon
In the mid-1850’s, in order to make the journey up to Mount Holyoke’s Prospect House hotel (now, the Summit House) less arduous for guests, proprietors John and Fannie French built one of the first incline railways in the country. Dubbed the tramway, it bore day-trippers and vacationers alike to the summit. We explore the tramway’s various changes and permutations over the years as well as its riders’ reactions to their journey up the mountainside. For adults and families with children ages 12 and older. Meet on the Summit House deck.
Thomas Cole’s Sublime Summit
Fridays, Sept. 8 & 22, 2:00-2:30 p.m.
The Summit House would likely not exist if were not for her inspiring views which have inspired artists since the mid-1800’s. This talk will feature some of those artists and their changing renderings of the Mount Holyoke Range and the valley below. For adults and families with children ages 12 and older. Meet on the Summit House deck.
Picturesque Prospect: Art On The Deck
Saturdays, Sept. 9, 16, 23, & 30, 12:30-1:30 p.m.
For centuries, the breathtaking views from Mount Holyoke have inspired many an artist, scholar, and poet. Visitors have come from near and far to revel in the beauty of the Summit House and the picturesque valley below. Join a Park Interpreter as we create or recreate artwork of your own design—inspired by the various artists before us or simply by the landscape itself. This is for adults and children of all ages, and no skill level is required. Supplies for drawing, coloring, and writing will be provided. Meet on the Summit House deck. Suitable for all ages. In case of rain, call to confirm.
Watching For Hawks
Fridays, Sept. 15, 22, & 29, 9:30-11:00 a.m.
Saturdays, Sept. 16, 23, & 30, 10:00-11:00 a.m.
Sunday, Sept. 24, 11:00 a.m.-12:30 p.m.
J. A. Skinner State Park’s Summit House deck is one of several great places in the valley to view hawks, falcons, eagles, osprey, harriers, and vultures as they migrate south to the winter homes. Join a Park Interpreter as we keep a sharp eye out for passing raptors and do our best to figure out who is who! If you have them, please bring a pair of binoculars. A scope will be available for shared use. Meet on the Summit House deck. For adults and families with children ages 6 and older. In case of rain, call 413-586-0350 to confirm.
Fridays, Sept. 15 & 29, 2:00-2:30 p.m.
The stately American Chestnut tree once filled New England forests with shade, provided sturdy support for her man-made structures, and fed people and animals alike. We’ll discuss the blight that felled this gentle giant, how it has changed out landscape, and learn about a hoped-for revival. For adults and families with children ages 12 and older. Meet on the Summit House deck.
Raptors Over The Range
Saturdays, Sept. 16, 23, & 30, 9:30-10:00 a.m.
Sunday, Sept. 24, 10:30-11:00 a.m.
With its relatively rare east-to-west orientation and vantage point overlooking the Pioneer Valley below, the Mount Holyoke Range features several spots that are ideal for viewing the fall migration of hawks and other raptors heading south. The deck of the Summit House is one such vantage point. Learn why the range is such a popular thoroughfare for raptors and how to identify the raptors you are seeing. If you have them, please bring a pair of binoculars. A scope will be available for shared use. For adults and families with children ages 12 and older. Meet on the Summit House deck. In case of rain, call 413-586-0350 to confirm.
All programs are free, there is a parking fee on weekends and holidays of $5.00 per vehicle for MA vehicles, $6.00 for out of state vehicles. Day use parking fees are waived for vehicles issued an Annual MassParks Pass, holders of a Senior MassParks Pass, and vehicles bearing a handicapped license plate or placard or disabled veteran license plate, from any state. http://www.mass.gov/eea/agencies/dcr/massparks/passes-and-fees/parking-fees.html.
All children must be accompanied by an adult. Reasonable accommodations available upon request. For more information, call (413) 586-0350.
J.A. Skinner State Park is home to more than 400 acres of forest on Mt. Holyoke, as well as the historic Mt. Holyoke Summit House. The park is located at the western end of the Holyoke Range, abutting the majestic Connecticut River. The park offers multiple hiking trails and breathtaking views of the Connecticut River Valley from multiple vistas. The summit of Mt. Holyoke is accessible by walking the road or hiking along the trails year-round. Hiking is a great way to get to the summit house at all times of the year. Trailheads are located at the main gate and off route 47. Most of the 7.5 miles of trail are moderate to strenuous in difficulty. Winter hikers should be prepared for ice or deep snow.
The picnic area at the summit of Mt Holyoke has 13 picnic tables and grills many with spectacular views of the valley below. Please remember that all Massachusetts State Parks have a “carry in carry out” policy and you will need to remove any rubbish you bring in. Restrooms are available May through mid-October. Hawk watching is popular in spring and fall. Paths from the Summit House connect with marked trails that traverse the Holyoke Range. Fall foliage viewing is popular in the park, and the masses of flowering mountain laurel present a lovely spectacle in June.
Summit Road Hours of Operation:
Opening mid-May till Memorial Day weekend: 9 AM - 4 PM
Memorial Day weekend till Labor Day weekend: 9 AM - 8 PM
Labor Day weekend through Columbus Day: 9 AM - 6 PM
Post Columbus Day till Road Closing in early November: 9 AM - 4 PM
Skinner State Park The park is named after Joseph Allen Skinner, a wealthy businessman who donated the hotel and land to the state in 1940.