to preserve and promote the natural beauty of the Hilltowns of Western Massachusetts

…we recognize and preserve Hilltown history for all…

Mission Statement: Western Mass Hilltown Hikers, Inc. is organized exclusively for charitable and educational purposes to engage in all legal activities relating to the development, maintenance and operation of recreational hiking and outdoor adventure in Western Massachusetts.

Western Mass Hilltown Hikers, Inc. provides monthly, free group guided tours of hiking locations in various locations of Western Massachusetts. We also provide free volunteer trail maintenance for trails including brush clean up, trash collection and storm cleanup for all outdoor passive recreations in Western Massachusetts. We also provide free presentations to other civic groups, non-profit organizations, libraries and schools.

We are a non-profit 501C(3) organization incorporated in the State of Massachusetts. Tax ID #86-2532249

Western Massachusetts is far off the beaten path…..which is it’s advantage. Far from the urban hustle and bustle, the sleepy Hilltowns nestled in hollows and along wild and scenic rivers are an unspoiled wilderness of nature and wildlife. Old growth forests and trees along long ago abandoned roads still stand over one hundred years old. Exotic plants and birds thrive including bald eagles. Bobcat and moose wander the vast protected open spaces, with no threat from man or automobile.

The Hilltowns are an outdoor museum of history. Many state forests and conserved properties contain relics of early colonial settlements, factories and transportation including electric street railways, the first stage coach turnpikes and the Western Railroad. Cemeteries from the 1700’s are now forested but their stone walls still stand. Saw mills, tanneries and dams are still very distinguishable

We have compiled detailed maps, and have published and created many of our own; so that visitors can learn, explore and adventure to the Hilltowns and experience the natural beauty of the mountains, rivers, lakes, fields and forests of the Hilltowns.

What's New For 2023?

Group Hike Schedule 2023


For those of you who love Hilltown Hiking from the comfort of home!

A new membership option for those who want to be a part of our adventures, and you get a magnet for your fridge!

Re-Open Cobble Mountain Reservoir!

A few weeks ago a few of our Board Members attended the Meet and Greet with Senator Paul Mark at the Chester Railway Station in Chester. We spoke to him and relayed our support of Bill H2992; State Senators Paul Mark and Nicholas Boldyga submitted state legislation (Bill #H2992) on January 20th, 2023 to reopen Cobble Mountain Rd for passive recreation. Specified permitted activities are foot traffic, bicycling and equestrian use. On March 5th at the Chester Town Meet and Greet, Senator Mark indicated the subcommittee to address this petition is being assembled at this time. Hilltown Hikers Director Dr. Russ LaPierre spent time writing a letter showing his support for this bill as below:
While this is exciting, opposition from Springfield Water and Sewer Commission (SWSC) should be expected. Many of us are experienced with Springfield Water Commission’s aggressive enforcement policies toward Hilltown residents to “protect” “Springfield’s” water. If the past performances are an indicator of future performance, then this behavior likely to continue. Blandford and Granville Townships petitioned Massachusetts Division of Capital Asset Management and Maintenance (DCAMM) to reopen Cobble Mt Rd in September of 2020. DCAMM denied reopening Cobble Mountain Rd in March 2021 despite even the safety issues of increasing regional First Responders response time to almost 40 minutes from less than 20 minutes to reach Blandford. Only promising to have a key at the Cobble Mountain Rd gate is problematic. The Jersey barriers are closely spaced and may hamper fire trucks navigating the road. Seconds count in times of fire or medical emergency. State law does indicate SWSC is allowed to protect its water shed; it does not, however, condone excessive measures as ethical or legal. SWSC has failed to prove the existence of any documented threats to “their water”.
Note well that the legislation language specifies opening Cobble Mountain Rd but does not specify opening the remaining water shed area to passive recreation. Opening the road is said to be a start. A myriad of hiking and biking experiences related to flora, fauna, and geology exist in the water shed. There are many historical remains in the Hill Towns dating from pre-Revolutionary War to the early 1900s. America burgeoned from these areas and one populace from a distant location should not be allowed to disallow others from experiencing this American history.
Please sign the accompanying Document  below supporting the petition to reopen Cobble Mt Rd and promptly send to the senators’ email addresses listed below. Please add accounts of encounters with SWSC’s environmental police or other organizations intimidating Hill Town residents and the effects on our communities. It still maybe reasonable to reiterate additional salient points regarding opening the remaining water shed, decimation of Granville and Blandford tax bases, effects on local businesses and most importantly, increased response time for regional First Responders.
If YOU would like to support this bill, please let our legislators know!
You can use Russ’s letter below or just write your own. Let them know how this affects all of us!
Letter Supporting House Bill # H2992 to Reopen Cobble Mountain Rd
I am resident of ______________ Township and/or travel to Blandford, Russell and/or Granville Townships for purposes of passive recreation and historical edification. We are excited for and fully support legislation of House Bill #H2992 referred to the Joint Committee on State Administration and Regulatory Oversight sponsored by Senators Paul Mark and Nick Boldyga regarding reopening Cobble Mountain Rd to passive recreation. We also advocate for opening the surrounding water shed to passive recreation.
Springfield Water and Sewer Commission (SWSC) policies and enforcement tactics are not in line with other water shed area policies whether at the local level such as Otis Reservoir, the state level such as Quabbin Reservoir or the national level such as Lakes Mead and Powell or even Yosemite National Park.
SWSC has failed to document any legitimate threat to “their” water supply but still uses law enforcement agencies to intimidate Hill Town visitors and residents where we live. No threat in terms of mechanical, chemical, biologic, infectious nor terrorist related has ever been demonstrated to justify closing Cobble Mt Rd and the water shed.
Residents and visitors are prohibited from accessing and enjoying the natural flora, fauna and geological resources in our towns. We are denied access to American history and archaeology in our towns even though this is where America began.
SWSC has jeopardized Hill Town safety with the Cobble Mt Rd closure by increasing regional First Responders response time to Blandford and Russell Townships from less than 20 to almost 40 minutes. The Jersey barriers are likely to impede fire truck access. The promise of a key at the gates is not a good faith solution; medical and fire emergency response time in measured in seconds.
The MassDEP requested public comment in July 2021 regarding SWSC’s acquisition of Hull Forestry property to which many Hill Town residents responded. MassDEP stated, “MassDEP encourages SWSC to consider those comments (the public comments) in connection with any future land acquisition and in connection with the lands that it may already own or control. “
Please consider our past and present Hill Town experiences with the water shed and SWSC as out lined in these letters.
Name. _____________
Word Document Below:

Become a Hilltown Hiker Member

Sign Up Here!
Sign Up Here!

Hilltown Hikers Membership Form pdf

Support the Hilltown Hikers and get your membership, be a part of our historical hikes, wild adventures and experience the natural beauty of the Hilltowns!

Mail your form and donation to:

Western Mass Hilltown Hikers P.O. Box 3 Chester, MA 01011

Please make checks payable to: Western Mass Hilltown Hikers Inc.

You can sign up securely with a credit card on our shopping page here: https://westernmasshilltownhikers.com/product/membership/

We updated this website platform in Fall 2020 after completely outgrowing our old one! That being said,  we will be uploading ALL our info here…yes..everything, including dedicated pages to Hilltown History and a more user friendly map database.  Don’t forget our BLOG has everything we do including new map uploads.  Thank you, we love you guys!

Check out our YouTube Page to see live videos of everywhere we go!

subscribe to our You Tube Channel to see new videos posted

Trails we are involved in….Blandford Long Pond and Shepard Lot, Essau’s Heel in Becket, Tekoa Park in Russell/Westfield, Round Top Hill in Chester.  We always have a lot going on.  We also do educational presentations at Libraries and Schools.  Trail work is something we really enjoy…keeping our beautiful outdoor passive recreation spaces in good shape for hikers (and dogs too).  Check out the Country Journal where we publish our weekly Hilltown Hiking Adventures.  We really enjoy keeping Hilltown History alive, if you know of a historic place…let us know.  We research our area’s history at local libraries and our members are Historians!
Town Walking Maps
Almost every Hilltown has created their own Walking Map, complete with historical locations and walking routes offering woods hiking and street walking options. These are great for everyone because they are rated on difficulty, show mileage and sights to see. Most are easy and short. We are pleased to have worked with Healthy Hampshire, The Hilltown CDC and Highlands Footpath over the last several years creating a walking map for Chester; one of the first! Please click here to learn more about these maps. All town walking maps can be found on our All Trail Maps pages categorized by town.

Watch Karen and Liz on the Live Broadcast of Ken’s Den on WCPC15 TV (Westfield Public TV) and WSKB 89.5 FM (Westfield State Radio).  Thank you to Harry Rock and Kathleen Palmer for an enjoyable morning on LIVE TV! 

Special Thank you to Patrick Berry and Mass Appeal for coming out to Chester! 
(Mass Appeal) – There are many miles of hiking trails in Western Massachusetts and one group has been regularly organizing hikes and volunteer efforts to maintain some of these trails.
Liz Massa, Lead Hiker and volunteer with the Western Mass Hilltown Hikers, gives us an inside look at some of the hikes and history they’ve been enjoying.

The 2023 21st Annual Housatonic Heritage Walks. We were pleased to be hosting and co-hosting hikes again this year!!

Heritage Areas around the U.S. have distinctive histories, geographies, natural resources and fascinating stories to tell. Ours is one: comprising nine towns in Northwest CT and 20 in Berkshire County, MA.There are 49 Heritage Areas in the U.S. U.S. Congress has designated these areas, which are funded through the National Park Service. Find out more About Housatonic Heritage here.

We are a member of 1Bershire and Berkshires.org check out our listing and all the great things to do in the Berkshires of Western Mass!

As Featured in the August E-News!  #visittheberkshires

Off the Beaten Path – Visit the Berkshires of Western MA

Western Mass Hilltown Hikers was created for people who love the outdoors to get out and discover new destinations for outdoor recreation. Our goal is to bring awareness of the landscape, history and wildlife the Hilltowns of Western Massachusetts have to offer and promote those natural assets to boost tourism and economic development to the area while still keeping our open spaces natural.

In 2016, we decided to take YOU along……

We were once three friends who hiked every weekend to a different destination, each week more friends joined us, then friends of friends and so here we are today, a group of over 10,000 members, over 5,100 in the Facebook Group and 8,600 followers on our Social Media platforms. Each month we lead a publicly advertised group hike, always free, open to everyone including well behaved dogs.
We want to hear from you! Do you have a great hiking destination? Historical location? Are you a landowner with awesome trails and want to do a group hike? Email us at westernmasshilltownhikers@aol.com

Hilltown Hikers In The News

Check out our You Tube Channel and Subscribe!

Upcoming Events

Keystone Arch Bridges Trail Narrated Hike

October 21 @ 10:00 am - 2:30 pm

Make a Tax Deductible Donation with any Form of Payment



Register Here for our Group Events!

Shatterrack Mountain in Russell

Keystone Arch Bridges Trail in Chester

Tekoa Mountain in Montgomery

We invite you all to post on all our social media your adventures whether it be hiking, cross-country skiing, snowshoeing. kayaking or mountain biking.  Let others know your idea for a hike or share your favorite trail. Post your beautiful pictures and videos! If you are looking to get out there and you need someone to come along…. you can network on our social media. We use hashtags to find our adventures all over the internet, #westernmasshilltownhikers and #hikethehilltowns
We have discovered that there are many of you out there that want to get outdoors to a waterfall or climb a mountain and need a partner to do it with or simply want to enjoy our pictures and videos. We invite you to all come out to the Hilltowns of Western Mass to see and enjoy our natural beauty! 

Hike Leader Liz

I have been told that I am a “hike-a-holic”.  Fact, I am!  I rented a house in Richmond years ago, hiked/biked the area trails and remembered how much I enjoyed growing up in the woods of Hampden.  After working and living in the Springfield area for 20 years….it was time for me to get back in touch with the outdoors.  I immediately made the move to Russell after completely falling in love with the Hilltowns and finding myself again.  There is nothing I love more than our beautiful Hilltowns and my dogs of course!



Ronnie is a 14 year old Lhasa Apso who has hiked the Appalachian Trail in Massachusetts.  She loves mountains and rock climbing.  Find her on the trail at Liz’s feet. Ronnie has recently gone blind, she continues to be a happy dog but unfortunately she cannot hike with us any more as she has gone into retirement.


Angie loves to hike but preferably in warm weather! Angie loves other dogs and people. Hide your trail snacks, she loves food too.

Hike Leader Karen

Karen McTaggart grew up in Russell.  After being away for 30 years in Southwick and Agawam, she moved back to town to help her Dad, Gerry Sikes.  She is a postal carrier in Suffield, Ct and has a son and granddaughter in LA, whom she loves to visit.  Karen is an original Western Mass Hilltown Hiker and Hike Leader.  She was an avid softball player and played for the Russell Inn Woman’s Softball Team in the Hilltown Women’s League.  Karen loves to travel, having family all over the country.  But, returning to the beautiful hills of home is her favorite thing.  Local history and family genealogy is her passion.  This makes for a great enjoyment for hiking the local roads, trails, and woods, as well as the beautiful views.  Bowling, hiking, photography are her activities of choice.   Karen is an original founder along with Liz of the Western Mass Hilltown Hikers.


Hike Leader Michele

Hike Leader Michele Kenney has lived in Western Mass for over 30 years, with 20 of those years in Chester. Michele hikes with her two dogs: Kiki, a flat coated retriever mixed with chow, and (Taco) Bella, the famous WMHH Chihuahua.

When not hiking, Michele could be found kayaking, or making thermal shades for her business CustomThermalshades.com

Michele also is the program director of the Southern Hilltowns Adult Education Center, does Business Assistance for the Hilltown CDC, and is an active member of the Jacobs Ladder business Association.




Hike Leader Kim

I am originally from South Hadley, Ma. and currently living in Huntington for the past 10 years.
I work as an HVAC Coordinator for small family owned company.  My favorite hobbies are hiking, gardening, cooking, fishing and painting oils and acrylics on canvas.  I also enjoy music, motorcycle rides, antiques, cape cod and my family and my two kitty cats.    




Hike Leader Russ

Grew up in South Jersey when it was still rural.  Worked on a Thoroughbred training farm and spent a lot of time walking in the woods.  Hiked and backpacked many of the national parks in the west and upper midwest including off trail route finding in few national parks.  Also backpacked in Puerto Rico.  Flown in by bush plane close to Chitna glacier (Alaska) and paddled back.  Have hiked four 14ner summits including Mt Whitney (on the first attempt).   Thoroughly spoiled by the Rockies.  Moved to hill towns just before Covid lock down.  Spent initial few months beginning to learn the area alone due to Covid.  To do list includes PCT and CDT.  Retirement plans include much time in Alaska, interpretive rangering in National Parks system and international volunteer large animal vet medicine. 


Hike Leader Stephanie

Born and raised in western MA. I grew up on a small family farm in Southampton which was the start of my appreciation of the outdoors.
Through recreational and competitive sports my love for the wilderness was enhanced. As for many, responsibilities take over much of our life. During my free time I and my Fido companion Cybill enjoy escaping to the wilderness to explore.




Cybill is my name. Four paw patrol is my game.

I’m a six year old Yorkshire Terrier and currently reside in Agawam MA. My life started off as a Georgia peach until my human parents moved me to western MA where my adventurous life blossomed. I love exploring the great outdoors by means of hiking, kayaking, biking or any modes offered to me.

What a “ruff” life I live…

Former Hike Leader Lyle

Lyle grew up in Connecticut and got her first real taste of hiking when she walked across Europe in college. Later she moved to Colorado where she spent time exploring the San Juan Mountains. A couple years ago she finally settled down in western MA and has been hiking and exploring the area since. She also has her best furry friend, Finley, with her on hikes. If you’ve been on a hike with WMHTH you’ve probably seen him and his sheer excitement to hit the trails!


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