Friday, June 13, 2008

A Misty Morning on the Bray Loop Trail

Mount Tom State Reservation boasts miles of options for folks looking to take a hike. The variety of terrains, grades, and scenery make the Reservation one of those unique destinations that affords repeat visitors many choices of exploratory excursion experiences. Carved out of parts of Holyoke and Easthampton, cleared and well-marked trails loop, stretch, and criss-cross for a good 20 miles spread over 2082 acres along the Mount Tom Range. With gas prices rising faster than the Connecticut River in springtime, this local treasure is a sensible and fun spot to visit for all ages.

For more information and directions, visit the Massachusetts Department of Conservation and Recreation's web page, at

Here's a link to a trail map of the Reservation:

The Bray Loop Trail on a quiet, misty Sunday morning is a fine place to set off along the path of contemplation. A walking stick and backpack. A camera. It's not a long journey, a meandering couple of miles, but sometimes a short trip away and alone is enough to bring you back refreshed and recharged. Nature's grace affirms beauty. The world turned right-side up.

Some photographs of that early walk...

According to a long ago comment - on a long ago EWM post - that Bill Dusty of The Springfield Intruder left about a similar sun ray photo: "Legend has it, when the little forest fairies of the East flutter around stealing jewelry and trinkets from campers and hikers, their booty can sometimes be found at the end of those rays." Still looking, Bill. No luck yet, but thanks for the tip.

No matter how soothingly calm the water, humans can't help but anticipate disruption. The reflection disturbed by the ripple.

Green on glass.

Tapering off, distance beckons the curious closer. The desire to reach there from here a primordial urge difficult to tamp down. And often impossible to put aside.

Lake Bray is on the left just down the road a bit when entering Mount Tom via Reservation Road off of Route 5 in Holyoke. There is ample parking just beyond the lake, from where the Bray Loop Trail can be easily accessed. An informative display kiosk is stocked with free trail maps of the Reservation. $2 per day gets your vehicle through the gate.

The deck on the opposite bank has a nice picnic table and a grill nearby. I sat there for a bit when the loop brought me around to it. Looks like a great spot for a picnic.

A path of interlaced roots demands the eye's attention in passage, perhaps jealous of the glory of its soaring torso and crown: A twisted ankle for those who dare not pay homage with their gaze.

Reservation Road runs atop the bank on the far side of the lake. The parking lot and restrooms are to the left.

Skunk cabbage undisturbed. Thankfully.

This bridge brings hikers on the short 'Inner' version of the Bray Loop Trail. It's a nice spot to watch birds from as well.

Nope, but that's okay...

Not wanting to ruin all of the beautiful spider webs constructed along this span, this turned out to be one bridge I was unwilling to cross when I came to it.

Mist on Bray Brook.

Love is love, not fade away...


The circle of life sans sap.

Beavers: Nature's chainsaw.

'Tis a welcome sight for a weary traveler...

Somehow, we end up crossing most of the bridges we come to. Some are a pleasure: Works of art worth lingering over. Others, rickety and frightening. Dash over those. Someone who has been where you are is already on the other side, waiting to clap you on the back.

For more about the Mt. Tom area from EWM, take a look at previous posts, Holyoke, Massachusetts: Mountain Park (c1900 - 1915) and The Eyrie House: William Street's Home in the Clouds.

As always, thanks for stopping by and take care.

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VanDog said...

Great pictures Mark!

Mark T. Alamed said...

Thanks, Van Dog!

Anonymous said...

Fantastic Mt Tom shots brings me back to my life in Holyoke and trips to Bray Lake to go skating in the winter.

Tony said...

Everything is so fresh in the early morning, isn't it? Nice tour...

Anonymous said...

Your Mt. Tom pictures remind me of a time of my life in the early to mid 1950's. Mt. Tom was a popular place for our extended family to gather on weekends to picnic all day long. Aunts, uncles, cousins. Most of my aunts and uncles lived in the tenements of Holyoke and were so glad to be out for a day on Mt. Tom. It was usually crowded and you had to get there early to get a few tables.

Mark T. Alamed said...

I'm pleased you all enjoyed the post! Thanks for taking the time to comment: I do appreciate it.

Take care everyone,


CFV said...

Just found an old picture of my dad skating on Lake Bray in 1947...must have been on a date with my mom who was from Holyoke.