Mount Wachusett in winter
|Elevation||2,006 ft (611 m)|
|Prominence||Approx. 1,000 feet (305 m)|
|Translation||"Near the mountain", "Mountain place" (Natick Indian)|
|Location||Princeton / Westminster,
|Age of rock||250 million years|
|Mountain type||Metamorphic rock; monadnock|
|Easiest route||Auto road, ski lift, or Pine Hill trail.|
Mount Wachusett is located in the towns of Princeton and Westminster in Worcester County, Massachusetts. It is the highest point in Massachusetts east of the Connecticut River. The mountain is named after a Native American term meaning "near the mountain" or "mountain place". The mountain is a popular hiking and skiing destination (see Wachusett Mountain Ski Area). An automobile road, open spring to fall, ascends the summit. Views from the top of Mount Wachusett include Mount Monadnock to the north, Mount Greylock to the west, southern Vermont to the northwest, and Boston to the east. The mountain is traversed by the 92 mi (148 km) Midstate Trail. It is also home to the Wachusett Mountain State Reservation.
A band of old growth forest along rock ledges 500 feet (150 m) below the summit supports trees from 150 to 370 years old. Covering 220 acres (89 ha), it is the largest known old growth forest east of the Connecticut River in Massachusetts.
Wachusett Mountain is a glaciated monadnock: a single mountain on a relatively flat landscape. Glacial activity that shaped the mountain can be seen at Balance Rock on the northeast side of the mountain: two large boulders were stacked one on top of each other by moving glaciers thousands of years ago.
Wachusett Mountain is bordered to the south by Little Wachusett Mountain and Brown Hill, to the north by Church Rock, to the east by Pine Hill, and to the northeast by the Crow Hills. The nearest mountain of comparable size is Mount Watatic, 1,832 feet (558 m), 12 mi (19 km) to the north on the New Hampshire border in Ashburnham, Massachusetts.
The west side of Wachusett Mountain drains into the east branch of the Ware River, thence into the Chicopee River, the Connecticut River, and Long Island Sound. The south side drains into the Quinapoxet River, the Nashua River, thence the Merrimack River and the Atlantic Ocean. The east side drains into the Stillwater River, thence the Nashua River. The north side drains into the Nashua River through a series of small reservoirs.
Ski Area & Recreation
Wachusett Mountain is home to a 25-trail ski area serviced by 3 high speed quads, 1 fixed-grip triple and 3 carpet lifts. It features approximately 1,000 feet (300 m) of vertical, a 50,000-square-foot (4,600 m2) base lodge, 100% snowmaking and night skiing on 18 trails. The mountain also maintains a terrain park and a jump called the Main Event. Due to its location, it is a popular skiing destination for residents of nearby Worcester and Boston. The ski area is located within the boundaries of the Wachusett Mountain State Reservation on a 450-acre (1.8 km2) lease parcel on the northern slopes of the mountain.
Stands of old growth hardwood forest on Mount Wachusett became the object of a 2003 court ruling in favor of the Commonwealth of Massachusetts in joint contract with the ski area regarding plans for a ski slope expansion into an environmental buffer zone around the old growth stand. The old growth forest contains trees over 350 years old; the buffer zone contained mature trees about half that age. The Sierra Club and other conservation organizations criticized the ruling and two members of Earth First! staged a sit-in protest by climbing into the crowns of several of the trees in the area slated to be clear cut. As of 2007 wording on the website of the Wachusett Mountain Ski Area included strong language prohibiting skiers and snow boarders from entering the old growth area: "Anyone found entering old growth areas will have their lift ticket revoked. Subsequent offenses will be subject to fines."
The name Wachusett has been adopted for the names of institutions, businesses, structures, geographic features, and other miscellaneous uses:
- Wachusett Reservoir
- Wachusett Mountain State Reservation
- Wachusett Brewing Company
- Wachusett (MBTA station)
- Mount Wachusett Community College
- USS Wachusett
- Wachusett Road in the Town of Woodway, Washington
- Mary Byrd Davis (23 January 2008). "Old Growth in the East: A Survey". Archived from the original on 17 February 2012. Retrieved 27 August 2013.
- DeMarco, Peter. "2 Tree-Sitters Staving Off Ax at Wachusett, Massachusetts" Boston Globe 10 September 2003.
- Sierra Club, et al. v. Commissioner of the Department of Environmental Management. 439 Mass 738 (2003).
- "Protect the Old Growth Forest" Mount Wachusett Ski Area. Retrieved October 30, 2007.
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