Sunday, July 20, 2014

Summit House Now Accessible to All

Make sure to visit this beautiful park this summer or fall – the winding road to the top is a fun drive and now wheelchair users can access and explore the building and enjoy the full view. Those with other mobility impairments should have much easier access too. 
This popular scenic vista in western Massachusetts offers panoramic views of the Connecticut River and surrounding landscape from 900 feet up. Part of Skinner State Park, the Summit House can be reached off of Route 47 in Hadley. 
Many mountaintops in western Massachusetts once had such summit houses, which served as hotels in the 1800s. Most of these historic structures have burned down long ago. Visiting the Summit House at Skinner State Park is a unique opportunity to enjoy a bit of history while picnicking and taking in fresh air and views.
There are two new designated accessible parking spots right at the base of the Summit House. A universally accessible restroom is available at the lower level of the building near the two new parking spaces. The restrooms are open 9am-7pm daily. 
A long ramp traverses the length of the building with views to the south. Some people may need assistance to get all the way to the mid-level where a wide balcony allows for circumnavigation of the historic structure with the most spectacular views over the River to the north. An awning allows shaded relief on hot days and captures any cooling breeze. Nearby picnic spots are scattered along the ridge top – the first one is fully accessible for anyone using a wheelchair.
The Summit House is open to the public on weekends and holidays from Memorial Day to Labor Day from 12 to 6:30pm. Inside there are some intriguing features worth checking out! Guided walks with an interpreter take place at 1, 3 and 5pm. From Labor Day to Columbus Day, the Summit House hours change to 10am to 4:30pm, with restrooms open daily from 9am to 5pm and  guided tours at 11am, 1 and 3pm.
The Summit House is easily visible from major roads in the vicinity as a white building along the forested range. It is located at 10 Skinner State Park Road. For further information, call the park at 413-586-0350. Enjoy your visit! 

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