It’s a rite of passage: every Deerfield student makes the hike to the Rock.
The Rock, or Pocumtuck Ridge as it’s more formally called, serves campus life in many ways. Foremost, the Rock provides a view of the entire Deerfield valley—the fields, farms and buildings of Deerfield are placed in the broader context of the Pioneer Valley. The view on a clear day extends into New York and Vermont.
The walk to the Rock takes many forms. Pine Nook Road ascends from Deerfield Village and provides a mostly paved road all the way to the Rock’s lookout point. Alternatively, miles of singletrack, doubletrack, and jeep roads cover the ridge (connecting to trails in South Deerfield and Greenfield), so it’s easy to take the road less travelled. A network of trails connects the front (westward) promontory of the Rock with eastward vistas–serving both sunrise and sunset views.
Our faculty note that the ridge is itself a geological curiosity, and hikes to the Rock are often a part of environmental science and geology classes. History classes explore the role of Pocumtuck Ridge in the lives of the native people of Deerfield—who likened the ridgeline to a the shape of a giant beaver. The ridge has even hosted our founding fathers, with John Quincy Adams noting that the view from the Rock “is not excelled by anything I have ever seen—not excepting the Bay of Naples.”
For some, the Rock is a destination, but for many Deerfield students and faculty members, the Rock is a stopping point during larger adventures: hiking, mountain biking, snowshoeing, geocaching, orienteering, cross country running and skiing all happen on the ridge. Our outdoor skills program, Elements, even camps out on the ridge.
Head of School Margarita Curtis takes frequent trips to the Rock, and each fall she leads new students there to provide them with an initial connection to the valley. Throughout their time at Deerfield, students venture to the Rock, and each time the view is different, as New England lives up to her reputation for change. At the end of their Deerfield careers, many students take one final trip up to the Rock, and take a last look out across the valley that has become home.