I knew that the A.T. passed by Dartmouth College in New Hampshire but I was surprised to find another institute of higher learning on the trail. Williamstown, MA is a quick 2.5 miles east of the Appalachian Trail. Williamstown is the home of Williams College, a private liberal arts school established in 1793 from the estate of Ephraim Williams. The institution, originally a men’s college, became co-educational in 1970 with today’s enrollment being 48% male and 52% female.
The school colors are purple and gold and their college mascot is Ephelia, the Purple Cow. The Williams Ephs (named after the school’s founder Ephraim Williams) participate in NCAA Division III varsity sports. According to the school’s website, the school has many unique student activities, including the semi-annual, school-wide trivia contest and the annual Mountain Day in October when students hike
Mount Greylock on the A.T. The college is home to many firsts, including the world’s first society of alumni, the first to wear caps and gowns at graduation and the first to host an intercollegiate baseball game. The school has a tradition at each graduation to drop a watch from the top of the college chapel. If the watch breaks, tradition holds that the class will be lucky.
Williams College, for the eleventh consecutive year, occupies 1st place in U.S. News & World Report‘s 2014 ranking of the 266 liberal arts colleges in the United States. Williams ranked 6th after Yale, Princeton, Harvard, Stanford, and Brown University in Newsweek‘s 2011 ranking of “Brainiac” Colleges which measured the success of alumni in winning Rhodes, Marshall, and Truman Scholarships. The acceptance rate into this exclusive college is only 16.7% (2012). Tuition is $46,600. Williams has small class sizes, with a student to teacher ratio of 7:1.
The beautiful, rural campus sits on 450 acres and the trailhead of the A.T. is just down the road. If you can get in, and if you can afford it, and you don’t mind being the Purple Cows, this college certainly offers some great weekend hiking.