Things are looking up for fall: It's time for the Greylock Ramble

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This story has been edited to add in the name of another participating business.

ADAMS — Strap on your hiking boots, Berkshires.

It's time for the annual Greylock Ramble.

Hundreds of hikers are expected to flock to the foothills of Mount Greylock on Columbus Day weekend; first for the RambleFest on Sunday, and then for the 51st Greylock Ramble on Monday.

"A lot of people in the Berkshires and surrounding areas, we appreciate our mountains, and this is a cool thing to do. It's fun," said Ray Gargan, co-chair of ProAdams, which organizes the event.

Despite eclipsing the half-century mark in age, the Greylock Ramble still draws throngs of visitors every year who take on the challenge of climbing Mount Greylock — at 3,491 feet above sea level, the state's highest peak.

The 6.6-mile trek along the meandering Cheshire Harbor Trail through abundant fall foliage begins at the trailhead on West Mountain Road and reaches the summit of Mount Greylock before returning to the trailhead.

So far, the weather looks accommodating, according to the most recent forecasts. Gargan noted that, even in the driving rain last year, an estimated 500 to 600 hikers found their way to the peak.

After recent rains, hikers should expect and prepare for wet and muddy trail conditions, according to Meshell Bordeleau, a Visitor Services supervisor with the Department of Conservation and Recreation, which oversees the Mount Greylock State Reservation.

Bordeleau also noted that visitors should be aware that parking can become congested at the summit, as the Ramble is typically the busiest day of the year on the mountain.

The Cheshire Harbor Trail is chosen for the Ramble every year because it is the most gradual ascent to the summit of Mount Greylock — but that does not mean the hike is a simple one. Hikers should be prepared with proper footwear, weather-appropriate clothing and plenty of water to sip along the way.

It's a hike worth celebrating — but Tuesday is a workday, so the the real festivities take place a day ahead of time.

The much newer, but just as beloved, tradition of RambleFest will kick off at noon and run until 5 p.m. at the Adams Visitors Center on Hoosac Street.

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The festival will feature music, food, beer and a variety of vendors.

"The event has been very popular. We get a lot of people, obviously, from the immediate vicinity, but we also get tourists and people from the greater Berkshires up to the event," Gargan said. "It's kind of a celebration of outdoor recreation, and those things are best epitomized by the Greylock Ramble and the Thunderbolt Ski Race."

Musician Randy Cormier will take the stage from noon until 2 p.m.

While admission for the event is free, a little cash goes a long way with the array of local food, beer and craft vendors lined up at RambleFest. Local wine will be provided by Balderdash Cellars of Pittsfield, while beer will be poured by Wandering Star of Pittsfield and Bright Ideas of North Adams.  DeMarsico’s Wine Cellar from North Adams will also be there, pouring pumpkin spice, blueberry, and blackberry wine, raspberry hard cider and strawberry sangrias.

Bright Ideas even brewed up a brown ale — appropriately dubbed "The Ramble" — for the festival.

"It's malty, nutty, slightly smoky," said head brewer Danny Sump. "It's a really easygoing brown ale."

The event also features an array of family-friendly activities, ranging from pumpkin carving to a bonfire.

In addition to ProAdams, other organizations are joining in on the fun, such as the Berkshire Scenic Railway offering historic train rides between downtown Adams and North Adams.

"It's a fun day; we try to get a lot of unique activities, and many of those are by other organizations in town," Gargan said.

As has been the case in previous years, Monday hikers are urged to avoid parking at or near the trailhead and instead make use of a frequently-running shuttle, which will make trips between the Adams Free Library and the trailhead.

The shuttle runs from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m.; pets are not allowed on board.

Certificates of completion will be available — along with food and other amenities for sale — at the Bascom Lodge at the mountain's summit. The lodge does not open until 8 a.m., organizers warn the early birds.

Adam Shanks can be reached at ashanks@berkshireeagle.com, at @EagleAdamShanks on Twitter, or 413-629-4517.


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