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Erin and Mike's Guide to the Pioneer Valley

September 24th, 2006

The wedding is now less than 2 weeks away.

We thought we would put together a little personalized revue of touristy, fall-themed and fun things to do in the Pioneer Valley.

Some Area Hikes
There are numerous trails in the area, but here are a couple of our favorites.

Mt. Sugarloaf State Reservation

Mt. Sugarloaf, as seen from the backyard. –>

The view from Mt. Sugarloaf is spectacular and overlooks Mt. Toby, the Connecticut River, the University of Massachusetts, the Holyoke Range and Mt. Tom. Nearby are the towns of Sunderland to the East and Whately to the West. You can also catch a glimpse of the corn maze at nearby Warner Farm. Just try to find a postcard with a panoramic view of the Pioneer Valley that wasn’t taken from Mt. Sugarloaf. Go ahead, try. It’s a short, steep hike to the summit (less than 15 minutes if you’re quick). There is also an auto road, so you can drive up as well.
Directions: Take 91N to exit 24. Go right at the end of the ramp, right at the first light, and follow Route 116 South for about two miles. You’ll see the sign for Mt. Sugarloaf Reservation on your left at the next set of lights.
http://www.mass.gov/dcr/parks/central/msug.htm

Mt. Tom State Reservation

Interesting rocks on Mt. Tom –>

The Mt. Tom reservation just happens to have an entrance located right across the street from the Log Cabin, our wedding reception site, and another entrance within walking distance of the Comfort Inn and Suites, where the wedding party will be staying. Mt. Tom is the highest point in the Pioneer Valley, but at a whopping 1202 feet it can easily be climbed in an afternoon. There are some fascinating rock formations in the cliffs along the north face. The auto road also has some splendid views. Ask Mike for an annotated copy of the reservation map, or download it here.
Best hiking route to Mt. Tom summit: From the Log Cabin parking lot, go across the street (be careful, it’s a busy highway) and walk south along Route 141 until you see a trailhead on your left. Follow this trail, keeping to the left at any trail intersections. The trail runs parallel to a set of power lines for less than half a mile, then veers to the right and ascends steeply to the site of a late 19th century hotel ruin at the summit.
http://www.mass.gov/dcr/parks/central/mtom.htm

Apple Picking

Dickinson Farms
134 South St.
Granby, MA 01033
Phone: (413) 467-3715; Call for picking conditions
Hours: Daily from 7am-7pm during picking season Sat. & Sun. from 8am-7pm. Apple season Fri., Sat., Sun. 9am-6pm.
Directions: 2 miles East of Jct. Route 33 and New Ludlow Rd, and/or going south on Rt. 202 in Granby, take a left on Ferry Hill Rd., and follow signs.
Description: PYO strawberry, blueberry, raspberry, apple & pumpkin farm. Also grow sweet corn, tomatoes, summer squash, and other vegetables sold at our Apple Barn with pies & donuts. Grow Christmas trees and offer wagon rides.

Outlook Farm
Rt. 66, 136 Main Rd.
Westhampton, MA 01027
Phone: (413) 529-9388
Hours: September – October 31; 6:30 a.m. – 7:00 p.m
Directions: 8 miles from Northampton up Rt. 66/Exit 18 of off Rt. 91.
Description: PYO apples and horse drawn hayrides on Sunday afternoons. Country store offers apples, peaches, pears, sweet corn pumpkins & more. Also feature apple cider, fresh squeezed from 100 year old press, the old fashioned way!

Quontquont Farm
9 North Street
Whately, MA 01093
Franklin County
Phone: (413) 575-4680
Open: Mid-July to November; Daily 10am-5pm
Directions: I-91S to exit 25, or, 91N to exit 24. Take Rt 5 south 2 miles, take right onto Christian lane and follow signs. From the North, take left onto Christian Lane.
Description: PYO blueberries, peaches, apples. Wonderul fresh fruit in beautiful setting. Seasonal farmstand, pumpkins in fall. Fun all season in the blue meadow maze.
http://www.quonquont.com

Touristy Attractions

Yankee Candle Village
“The Scenter of the Universe”
World’s larges candle store, Christmas store, candle museum, dip your own candles and other stuff for kids, general candle insanity.
Far more than just a candle store, the South Deerfield flagship store is a special place where magic comes to life. From watching animated, singing characters to celebrating Christmas year ’round, it is an unusual place where your whole family can experience an enchanting mix of shopping and entertainment.
Directions: Take 91N to exit 24. Follow signs to Yankee Candle.
http://www.yankeecandle.com/

Emily Dickinson Museum: The Homestead and the Evergreens
The Museum consists of two historic houses in the center of Amherst, Massachusetts, closely associated with the poet Emily Dickinson and members of her family during the nineteenth and early twentieth centuries. The Homestead was the birthplace and home of the poet Emily Dickinson. The Evergreens, next door, was home to her brother Austin, his wife Susan, and their three children.
Admission is by guided tour only.
Hours: Open Wednesday-Sunday 1-5pm.
Prices:
Adult admission: $8.00
Senior/College Student: $7.00
High School Students: $5.00
Children ages 6-12: $5.00
The tour is not recommended for children under 6.
Directions:
Take exit 19 (if coming from the south) or exit 20 (if coming from the north) to Route 9 east. Take Route 9 east approximately five miles through Hadley to the Amherst town limit. Proceed up a long hill. At top of hill, turn left at traffic light onto South Pleasant Street. Turn right at next light onto Main Street. The Museum is 3/10 of a mile ahead on the left.

The Eric Carle Museum of Picture Book Art
125 West Bay Road Amherst, MA
Founded in part by Eric Carle, the renowned author and illustrator of more than 70 books, including the 1969 classic The Very Hungry Caterpillar, The Eric Carle Museum of Picture Book Art is the first full-scale museum in this country devoted to national and international picture book art, conceived and built with the aim of celebrating the art that we are first exposed to as children.
Hours:
10 – 4 Tuesday through Friday
10 – 5 Saturdays
Directions:
Route 91 North to exit 19 Northampton/Amherst.
At end of exit ramp, take right onto Route 9 East.
Pass over the Calvin Coolidge Bridge.
Before Getty Station, take right onto Old Bay Road.
At stop sign, make a right onto Bay Road.
After 1.8 miles, take left to follow Bay Road toward Hampshire College/South Amherst.
Continue another 2.5 miles to the Museum (on your left).

Mike’s Maze at Warner Farm

Erin and Andrea lost in the Maze –>

Don’t miss this unique and fun local attraction! Every year, these local farmers carve a different design into their fields and open the maze to the public. This year’s maze is in the shape of Julia Child and features many culinary activities including the canons de pomme de terre (potato cannons), a new rayon solaire de la mort (solar cooker), a new trebuchet de tomate (tomato trebuchet). The weekend of Oct 7 also features food from local restaurant, The Blue Heron, (http://www.blueherondining.com/) in conjunction with this year’s theme. Pony Rides and cute kids (goats) are a new addition at the maze this fall. You can also view the maze from the top of Mount Sugarloaf.
Hours:
Saturday, Sunday, and Columbus Day 11am-5pm
Prices:
Children under 4 are free!
Ages 5-18 or with student ID $6
Ages 19 and up $8 (groups of 10 or more with a single payer get $1 per person)
Directions:
91N to exit 24. Go right off exit ramp to lights. Turn right onto southbound 116. Cross bridge into Sunderland and take your first right at the traffic lights. Mike’s Maze is on your right about 1/3 mile down the road.
http://www.mikesmaze.com/

Magic Wings Butterfly Conservatory
This 8,000-square foot glass enclosed conservatory is home to nearly 4,000 free-flying butterflies from all over the world. It is also home to many plants and a pond with a small waterfall and brilliantly colored Japanese koi. Visitors are delighted with the many different varieties of butterflies swooping gracefully amidst the plants and flowers. Stand still and perhaps a butterfly will gently descend and land on your shoulder, thinking that maybe you are a flower for it to taste. Great activity for kids of all ages. Open 9am-5pm year round.
Prices:
Adults: $8
Seniors (age 62 and over): $7
Children (ages 3-17): $5
Children under 3 are free
Directions:
Take Interstate 91 North to Massachusetts Exit 24 (Routes 5 & 10). Right off ramp onto Routes 5 & 10 North, past Yankee Candle. Approximately 3 miles to Magic Wings on left.
http://www.magicwings.com

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  • Jeff Howell says:

    Congrats to you and Erin on your pending nuptials. The butterfly thing sounds cool. I’ve been to one of those, the Butterfly Place in Westford Mass near the NH border and liked it a lot. Also, the maze thing sounds cool. I’m hoping to find a corn maze here in Iowa around Halloween, I seem to recall they do a lot of them. Thanks for posting the list. Cool stuff, I hope all your guests have a good time enjoying the New England attractions. Later, Jeff

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