Big View


Growing up on South Street, Unquomonk Hill and brook loomed large in our backyard. Its steep topography, large trees, vegetation and wildlife were fascinating to a curious youngster. Although the hillside belonged to our neighbor and the Williamsburg watershed, I had tacit permission to explore the area. The black bears, turkeys, moose and coyotes that are common now were rare or non-existent then.

In the early 80s, Diane, a lifelong horse rider, and I jumped at the opportunity to purchase 107 acres on Wolf Hill, an area that Diane had ridden and I had roamed for decades. Excited by the potential for trails and views, we set to work developing new hiking and riding trails to replace the steep and unmanageable skidder roads. We soon discovered the Big View area potential, and with years of hard work, using a large array of tools and heavy equipment, created what you see today. The property requires constant maintenance; once-ubiquitous hemlocks succumb to the wooly adelgid, stately beeches to blight, large oaks lose their grip in the ledge-filled ground, and they all frequently fall onto the trails.

American chestnuts, once a dominant species, still valiantly sprout in the Big View area, but never live more than a few years. Geologically, the upper hillside is granite pegmatite, with a terrace of gravelly ancient lakeshore along the lower level. There are massive calved-off ledge boulders along with glacial erratics which often display lichens and liverworts, in abundance on the Boulderdash trail. Just for fun, we excavated a pool that is now home to “Humphrey” the whale.

As you climb, the first lookout point provides a glimpse of Mt. Monadnock on a clear day. From Big View, one can see Umass, the VA hospital grounds, the Seven Sisters peaks of the Holyoke Range, and Mt. Tom. In the distance are the Connecticut River, the Northampton meadows and, at night, the lights of the Coolidge bridge.

It is our pleasure to share this trail and the Big View vista with visitors who appreciate its beauty and the healing power of nature here in the foothills of western Hampshire County.
-Phil and Diane Merritt

Trail Use Guidelines:

  • Carry in, carry out

  • Please follow appropriate guidelines during hunting season

  • Please stay on the trails and respect the land and generosity of the owners

  • Do not pick plants or feed wildlife

Please pick up after your pet and keep dogs on leash or under voice command at all times.

Location: From Rt. 9 in Williamsburg Center, Take South St. and go about 1 mile to Unquomonk Rd. on the right. Park at the trailhead approximately ¼ mile up on the left.

Click HERE for a trail map.

Public Access to Brewer Brook (Old Wolf Hill) Conservation Area: Land protected by the Kestrel Land Trust can be accessed 600 feet west of the Big View overlook.

Public Access Trail: This private trail is open to the public thanks to the Voluntary Access Program, made possible by the U.S. Department of Agriculture-Natural Resources Conservation Service, Franklin Land Trust, Hilltown Land Trust, and this participating landowner.

Public access is permitted for hiking and wildlife observation.