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South Taconic Tri-State Hike
This hike has a few strenuous climbs, but it also offers fantastic views and long stretches of peaceful, breezy trails and woods roads with minimal ups and downs and nonstop bird songs.
Moderate to Strenuous
Allowed on leash
Views, Waterfall, Birding
New York State Thruway I-87 to Saw Mill Parkway north to I-684 north, which becomes NY Rte. 22 north. Follow NY Rte. 22 north for 50+ miles to Copake, NY. From NY Rte. 22 in Copake Falls, NY take NY Rte. 344 east into Massachusetts (becomes Falls Rd.) for 3.3 miles. Turn right onto West Street and continue for 2 miles, bearing right onto East Street. Follow East Street (will become a gravel road) for 2 miles to parking on right just before the MA/CT state line. Additional parking 100 feet ahead on left.
Note: Approaching the parking area from the south through Connecticut -- tempting if looking at a map -- is not advised. The approach includes a seven-mile section of a narrow, rutted gravel road and is slower than taking the route described above.
For all but a very short section, these trails are well defined and easy to follow.
The hike begins at the trailhead for the red-blazed Mt. Frissell Trail, at the small parking lot on the west side of East Street on the Massachusetts side of the Massachusetts/Connecticut state line. In about half a mile, the trail ascends very steeply, with rock scrambles, until it reaches a viewpoint at the summit of Round Mountain.
After descending a little, the trail climbs steeply to the summit of Mt. Frissell, which it reaches at 1.2 miles. Although the highest point in Connecticut is on Mt. Frissell, the summit is in Massachusetts. The trail descends from the summit, passing the highest point in Connecticut at the state boundary benchmark -- a round green disk, with a short pipe in the middle, next to a rock pile.
At 1.7 miles, a tri-state marker (dated 1898) indicates the spot where New York, Massachusetts and Connecticut meet. The marker is about three feet high and stands in the middle of the trail, so you can't miss it.
At 2.2 miles, the Mt. Frissell Trail ends at a junction with the white-blazed South Taconic Trail, at an open crest with spectacular views. Looking to the left, you can see the flag at the summit of Brace Mountain, 0.4 mile away. Turn right at the junction and head north on the South Taconic Trail. The trail soon enters the woods and becomes a pleasant, shady woods road, with minor ups and downs, for the next two miles. After the steep climbing on the Mt. Frissell Trail, this is an easy section to cruise through.
A blue-blazed trail begins on the right at 3.0 miles, but you should bear left to continue on the white-blazed South Taconic Trail. Then, at 4.4 miles, the red-blazed Robert Brook Trail begins on the left, and at 4.9 miles, the blue-blazed Alander Loop Trail begins on the right. In each case, continue ahead on the South Taconic Trail.
At 5.1 miles, the blue-blazed Alander Brook Trail begins on the left, but you should continue to follow the white-blazed South Taconic Trail, which turns right and narrows to a footpath. For the next half mile, it climbs steeply to the west summit of Alander Mountain. Although there are no rock scrambles, it is a steady climb all the way to the top. As you climb, you will want to stop several times, turn around and take in the panoramic views behind you.
When you reach the summit, you will be rewarded with more amazing views in all directions. You can look back to Brace Mountain and Mt. Frissell to see where you came from and how far you have gone. On a clear day, you can see the Catskills to the west and Mount Greylock to the north.
Just beyond the old fire tower foundation, turn right at a cairn with a very faded light blue blaze. You're now following the blue-blazed Alander Loop Trail, which is poorly maintained. As of this writing, the trail is overgrown, with only an occasional faded blaze to mark the way. In a short distance, you'll reach an intersection with the Alander Mountain Trail, blazed with blue triangles. Bear left and follow the Alander Mountain Trail, which soon passes a cabin (bear to the left of the cabin).
The mostly level Alander Mountain Trail leads in 2.8 miles to the headquarters of Mount Washington State Forest, passing through delightful dark, fragrant hemlock forests along the way. About halfway along the trail, you will begin to hear flowing water. This is Ashley Hill Brook, which runs down below, parallel to the trail. Eventually, you cross over Ashley Hill Brook on a sturdy log bridge. You should be able to see a few small waterfalls here, even after other brooks have dried up during a drought. A short distance beyond, another bridge takes you over a smaller brook.
At the end of the trail, you emerge onto a mowed field. Continue straight ahead to the Mount Washington State Forest parking lot, passing a picnic table and kiosk for the Alander Mountain Trail trailhead, and bear right towards the headquarters building. If you need a refill on your water supply, there is a drinking water spigot on the opposite side of the building.
Continue on to the Mount Washington State Forest entrance and turn right onto paved East Street. After crossing a one-lane bridge, the pavement ends, and East Street becomes a gravel road, with pleasant countryside views. You will pass a few well-kept homes and interesting ponds and, in a little over two miles, reach the Mt. Frissell Trail parking lot (on the right), where the hike began.
Turn by turn description
1. From the Mount Frissell parking lot on East Street, follow the red-blazed Mount Frissel trail.
2. Reach the Round Mountain summit at .7 miles
3. Reach the Mt. Frissell summit at 1.2 miles; the highest point in CT during the descent.
4. Tri-state boundary marker at 1.7 miles
5. Mt. Frissell trail terminates at the South Taconic Trail at 2.2 miles.
6. Turn right on the white-blazed South Taconic Trail
7. At 3 miles a blue-blazed trail goes to the right; stay left on the white-blazed trail.
8. At 4.4 miles the red-blazed Robert Brook Trail goes to the left; stay right on the white-blazed trail.
9. At 4.9 miles the blue-blazed Alander Loop Trail goes to the right; stay left on the white-blazed trail.
10. At 5.1 miles the blue-blazed Alander Brook Trail goes to the left; stay right on the white-blazed trail.
11. At 5.9 miles reach the Alander Mountain summit then turn right on the blue-blazed Alander Mountain Trail; head towards the cabin beyond which the blazes become blue triangles.
12. At 7.2 miles a blue-blazed trail goes to the right; stay left on the blue diamond blazed trail.
13. At 7.9 miles the blue-blazed Ashley Hill Trail goes to the right and shortly thereafter the Charcoal Pit Trail goes to the right.
14. At 8.7 miles arrive at Mount Washington State Forest Headquarters.
15. Proceed to the state forest entrance and turn right on East street.
16. Arrive back at parking lot at 11 miles.