Lauren R. Stevens | Hikes & Walks: Climb and Dive Trees at Prospect-Money Brook Trails Loop | Sports
On Memorial Day, it was time to hike the Prospect-Money Brook Trails Loop.
Last time I posted on this – May 24, 2020. The 7.8 mile trial hike starts at the Hopper parking lot and includes a steep climb, views from the hopper, and then down the valley to the Hoosic River from Prospect Lookout; Money Brook Falls and a gradual descent along the scenic creek. Much of it is in the inner hopper, a largely untouched area of tall, old trees.
In short, this hike is about as stimulating for body and soul as any in County Berkshire.
From most of the county, going north on Route 7, turn east on Route 43 at the Five Corners in South Williamstown. Turn right on Hopper Road at Mount Hope Park. Turn left to stay on Hopper Road where it turns to gravel. The parking lot at the trailhead is at the end of the road. It’s not uncommon to see 50 cars here on a pleasant weekend day, but most people climb either the Hopper Trail to Greylock Summit or the Haley Farm Trail to Stoney Ledge.
The Money Brook Trail begins at the east end of the parking area, through two gates and along a pre-revolutionary road between hay fields. Haley Farm, then the Hopper Trails turn right. You pass through a scattered campground next to Hopper Brook, then enter a reserved natural area, the Inner Hopper, where uses are limited to hiking and studying. The bridge you cross is dedicated to Bob Quay, Williams College ’04, former president of the Williams Outing Club.
Of the old trees most are hemlock, which grow in shady areas The trail continues across the stream now, passes a ravine one could swim in, a detour to avoid leaching, and two cellar holes on the right . A bridge takes you back across the creek, where a trail comes straight out to connect to the Hopper Trail. Here, Money and Hopper streams meet. You go up and down to cross two tributaries before crossing Money Brook again, where in high water the fording can be tricky. A hiking stick helps.
Follow the blue flames to a junction which you will come back to, taking a left where the Money Brook Trail turns right, to begin the ascent to Prospect. In a sunnier region, most of the trees are beeches, maples and oaks. At the start you go up in a zigzag way where the trail may need a bit of cutting. You turn left to negotiate the boulders or, rather, the slabs of rock on a short but intriguing stretch. As you exit above the boulder, instead of leveling, the trail continues to climb steeply, through dwarf trees of the wind, passing a lookout to Greylock and finally an azalea lookout to the west. of the Taconics.
Someone erected a small cairn, but the real cairn marks the top (2,690 feet). Although without a view, here begins a charming half-mile ridge walk to Prospect, finally, “prospect” and the Appalachian Trail, four miles from the parking lot. Plan to soak up this view of farms, towns, mountains, and the river valley sewn together like a quilt.
Take the blazing white AT to the south, plunging into the spruce / fir wetlands that are the source of Money Brook. A trail rerouting appears to be in progress, but cross many bog bridges to the Money Brook Trail, blazing blue. Fear not, there are signs at every intersection including one that tells you you have 3.5 miles to park.
Leaving Wilber’s Clearing on your right, take a side trail to Notch Road, turn left, steeply downhill, to the side trail, left, which leads to Money Brook Falls. Even though the falls don’t flow much and although the short trail is rugged, the waterfall offers 70 feet of long, winding falls that are worth the trip.
Back on the main trail, descend through hemlock including a hairy bend over the abyss, cross a tributary, and climb steeply up stone steps. Then begin a long, gradual descent, largely over stone slabs, which brings you to the junction with the Prospect trail. Ford Money Brook, cross Parris and Bacon creeks, go past the cut trail to Hopper Trail, turn right to cross the bridge, then left to cross the Quay Bridge and you are back to your car. Hikers don’t always have to climb Greylock; frankly, any time is a good time to discover Prospect and the Hopper.
Good road to you.
Lauren R. Stevens is the author of “50 Hikes in the Berkshire Hills”, Countryman / Press / WW Norton, 2016.