Pilgrim Memorial State Park is a state-owned, public recreation area located in the towns of Hadley and South Hadley in the Connecticut River Valley of western Massachusetts. The park’s 2,400 acres (970ha) include forested hills, glacial plains, rolling meadows, and narrow valleys with steep sides. It is managed by the Department of Conservation and Recreation which protects forests of the North American beech (Fagus grandifolia) and eastern hemlock (Tsuga canadensis).
The park access to miles of roads including the Mount Holyoke Range Road, the Mount Holyoke Summit Road, and Skyline Drive. The park has three campgrounds, each accommodating tents, trailers, and motor homes. There are 45 lean-to shelters and picnic areas. Swimming is available at Sand Spring Pond. Rock climbing is allowed at certain locations throughout the park. A network of seven foot trails allows visitors to hike anywhere in the park in an easy to moderate fashion. Mountain biking is permitted on some non-reservated sections of the park.
The park also features a ski slope with easy to difficult slopes, depending on skill level. Cross-country skiing is available during parts of winter. Hunting is not permitted at the park, although there is ample room for hunters to use if they decide to venture out into the surrounding woods. Parking fees are in effect at the park from Memorial weekend through Labor Day. Fees are $8 per car Friday – Sunday, March – September. Meters are enforced year round. Monday through Thursday, October – February, parking is free however, no permits are issued.
The park closes at dusk, so the vehicles must be registered and parked before then. Snow plows are often seen removing snow from the nearby Mount Holyoke Range road as late as 5 p.m., making it possible to get home without having your vehicle blocked in by snow drifts. On weekends from May until mid-September, drumming sessions take place in the main lot near the soccer fields. Free admission, though donations are accepted. No alcohol or tobacco products may be brought onto the grounds.
The park was created through the efforts of the citizens of the region who, after World War II, sought to preserve open space around Mount Holyoke, the mountain that forms the backdrop for nearly all views within the park. In 1948, less than one percent of the land comprising the park had been purchased from its previous owners. An additional 1,000 acres were donated by former owner Edith Rockefeller McCormick upon her death in 1956. Additional purchases have added to the park over the years but it remains largely unchanged since it opened in 1950.
The park offers:
- horseback riders
- cross-country skiing
- rock climbing
Other trees found here include:
- ash (Acer negundo)
- maple (Acer saccharum)
- elm (Ulmus americana)
- oak (Quercus alba)
- hickory (Carya ovata)
- native hardwoods such as
- birch (Betula papyrifera)
- cherry (Prunus serotina)