East Mountain Fire Impacts on the A.T.

May 24, 2021

A brush fire that became known as the East Mountain Fire began Friday night, May 14, 2021, on the outskirts of Williamstown, Massachusetts. The fire moved east onto lands managed by the Massachusetts Department of Conservation and Recreation and across the Appalachian Trail (A.T.) in the Clarksburg State Forest, burning almost a thousand acres. More than 120 firefighters worked to contain the fire. By Monday afternoon, the fire was 75 percent contained and efforts were reduced to mop-up operations on Tuesday, May 18. Although the A.T. was never officially closed, hikers were advised by firefighters to avoid the Trail, and the Appalachian Trail Conservancy (ATC) issued an alert through its social media channels and website. 

Charred vegetation now surrounds a two-mile section of the Trail just north of Williamstown between NOBO mile 1596 (0.3 miles south of the Sherman Brook Campsite) and Eph’s Lookout (NOBO mile 1598.6). The footpath was not impacted and there was no damage to mature trees. The only structure destroyed in the fire was a tent platform at Sherman Brook Campsite.

Hikers are reminded that late spring can be a time of high fire danger, when temperatures rise and the winter leaf litter can become easily combustible in bright sunlight before leaf-out is complete. For information on campfire safety, visit www.appalachiantrail.org/campfires.

Our thanks go out to all the firefighters involved in this effort, and to the Appalachian Mountain Club Western Massachusetts Chapter’s A.T. Management Committee who maintain and manage the A.T. in partnership with the Massachusetts Department of Conservation & Recreation, the National Park Service, and the ATC.  The A.T. Committee can be reached at at@amc-wma.org

Header image courtesy of Cosmo Catalano, Jr.