Rising roughly 1,000 feet in elevation, Mt. Holyoke Range State Park straddles the seven-mile ridge that runs from Hadley to Belchertown. The ridge is a patchwork of state, town and private lands. Parcels acquired by the state since the 1970's bring the park to over 3,000 acres. The Notch Visitor Center, located on Route 116 in Amherst, is open daily. Displays and interpretive programs are available in season. The park's Friends group offers hikes and programs throughout the year.
The Mt. Holyoke Range formed some 200 million years ago when lava flowed from the valley floor, cooled and was upended. More recently, glaciers left their signature, scouring the ridge's jagged edges smooth in some places, exposing bedrock, or depositing till, sand, clay or muck in others. Since early days, settlers used all but the sheerest inclines for woodlots and pastures. Now mostly wooded, the ridge's steep slopes and east-west orientation create a number of forest types, including birch-beech-hemlock on the north side and oak-hickory on the south. Thickets, streams, ponds, and wetlands add to the diversity. Over 30 miles of marked trails provide a variety of outdoor experiences including hiking, walking, viewing vistas, cross-country skiing, snowmobiling, horseback riding and hunting.