The Father Loop Trail and Mother Loop Trail hike at Alford Springs Wildlife Conservation Easement in Great Barrington, Massachusetts is an easy 6.7-mile loop hike that covers two loop trails and features beautiful vistas.
Location: Alford Springs, Mountain Road, Alford MA
Trail name(s): Father Loop Trail and Mother Loop Trail
Allowed activities: hiking, hunting & fishing in accordance with Massachusetts state regulations, birding, horseback riding as long as there are not muddy conditions, mountain biking, berry picking, nature study, geocaching, cross-country skiing, and snowshoeing.
Forbidden activities: no motorized vehicles, no fires, no camping
Hours: Trails are open daily during daylight hours.
Fees and Parking: There is no fee to park or use the trails. There are two trailhead parking areas to access the trails. One is off of Mountain Road; the other is located off of Old Village Road. The parking at the Mountain Road trailhead has plenty of room and can accommodate at least 6 cars. The trailhead off of Old Village Road is not winter friendly.
Pets: Dogs are allowed on the trails as long as they are leashed and waste is carried out with the hiker.
Accessibility: The trails are not wheelchair accessible.
Sanitation: There are no restrooms or trash receptacles. Carry out all trash.
Trail information: There are no trail blaze markers on the wide sections of the Father Loop trails as the path is mowed and is obvious to the hiker. The “Connector Trail” and the Mother Loop Trail, as well as parts of the loop that are narrower and are more wooded have Blue rectangle trail blaze markers posted. There is ample signage at intersections and maps posted to help keep hikers aware of where they are on the trails. There is an information kiosk at the Mountain Road parking area with plenty of maps to borrow or take. To download a map before your visit, please see the link below:
Length and features: This hike was done as a “double loop” hike combining both trails into one hike. The total of both trails combined is approximately 6.7 miles and is an easy hike. To get to the Father Loop Trail, park, then head past the gate down a dirt road. Upon reaching a wide open rocky plaza like area, keep to the far right. The other option will lead to a dead end at a locked gate with park boundary and no trespass signs posted. A short distance from this plaza, hikers will connect to the Father Loop Trail. The hike starts off with a steady climb on a gravely substrate and then turns into a grassy wide pathway. The trail is well shaded and wild blackberries and raspberries are growing within easy reach of the trail edges. There are several fun, well maintained geocaches to hunt for in this park. The Berkshire Natural Resources Council (BNRC) is responsible for the stewardship of this park. In 2016 the BNRC arranged for a timber harvest and have planned to keep approximately 7 acres cleared every 5 years to encourage diversity of berries and browsers. The area that was cleared in 2016 has created a meadow of sorts and has a beautiful park like feel to it. The views of Mount Greylock in the distance makes this part of the hike an excellent place to stop and forage for berries or just enjoy the views.
The trail continues downhill and then winds its way along shaded grassy pathways and intersects with the Mother Loop Trail. The Mother Loop Trail is narrower and more wooded than the Father Loop Trail, but does have some grassy pathways. There are vista points marked on the map and offer beautiful views of the farmland and Taconic Mountains surrounding Alford Springs. The trail leads hikers to an open area with an old apple orchard where the trail can appear a bit ambiguous due to the openness of the area. Keep to the right and look for signs posted nearby. The trail skirts private property, but has plenty of signs to keep hikers from trespassing.
Alford Springs is a great place to spend a few hours hiking, geocaching or foraging for wild edibles. It offers easy hiking and beautiful views.
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