Northfield Mountain - Atlas Obscura

Northfield Mountain

Northfield, Massachusetts

The largest battery in New England sits atop a Massachusetts mountain. 


Northfield Mountain is a picturesque recreation area in north-central Massachusetts. It boasts an incredibly well-maintained trail system, featuring miles of paths through the woods. One can meander up gentle slopes to the top of the mountain. Come winter, the trails function as an extensive cross-country ski trail network.

Northfield Mountain is more than just a beautiful place to be outdoors. Deep inside the mountain, past layers of security, there’s a hydroelectric plant. The Firstlight Power Plant uses cheap electricity during off-peak hours to pump water up the mountain. At the summit of Northfield, the water is stored in a reservoir. When the need for energy spikes, water is released, generating hydropower.

When the Firstlight Power Plant opened in 1972, it was the largest pumped storage hydroelectric plant in the world. Today, the reservoir on Northfield Mountain serves as New England’s largest battery—storing water for hydroelectric power until energy needs spike.

Know Before You Go

Northfield Mountain is accessible via hiking. There is an extensive, well-marked, and well-maintained trail system on the mountain. The main trailhead parking area is located at 99 Millers Falls Rd, Northfield, MA 01360, USA. There is a map of the trail system posted at the trailhead.

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November 9, 2023

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