In a rare geophysical phenomenon, snow and ice persists in this 50-foot deep bedrock chasm throughout the hot and humid summertime.
The Snow Hole is nestled into the limestone of the Taconic Mountains, a few short miles north of the point where New York, Vermont, and Massachusetts come together. Due to its particular depth and formation, it maintains a temperature in its depths that is cold enough for snow, even as hikers sweat in the July heat.
The site has fascinated visitors for hundreds of years (although it’s likely been snowy for millennia). Carvings of names and dates in the rocks around the crevasse date to as late as the 19th century. In 1818, Chester Dewey, a professor at nearby Williams College described the sight:
“The rocks are cleft in several places, and in one to such a depth that the snow and ice remain there through the year. The snow hole is about 30 feet long and nearly as deep at the east end, ascends to the west or toward the summit of the ridge and is from 10 to 20 feet wide. When I visited in June the snow was six feet deep on ice of unknown depth.”
Located along the ridge line between Bald Mountain and the White Rock, would-be visitors can take advantage of a well-maintained trail system to reach the the site. The hike to the Snow Hole begins at Petersburg Pass in New York, on Route 2. Those not content simply peering over the edge can explore the cave located just at the beginning of the descent into the crevasse.
Know Before You Go
From Rt. 7 in Williamstown, MA: Turn onto Rt.2 west at the Taconic Park Restaurant approximately half way between the Store at Five Corners and the Wlliams Inn. (This road is known locally as the Taconic Trail.) When you reach the top of the hill you will enter the town of Petersburgh NY, and you'll come to a large parking area on your left. Park there, and cross the road to access the trailhead. The trail entrance can be hard to see if you've never looked for it, but it's there. You will then hike a short steep section, and you're on your way!