South Taconic Tri-State Hike

Overview

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.

Details
Time:
6 hours
Difficulty:
Moderate to Strenuous
Length:
11 miles
Route Type:
Circuit
Dogs:
Allowed on leash
Features:
Views, Waterfall, Birding
Location
Park:
Region:
County:
Columbia
State:
MA/CT/NY
Maps/Books
Publication
First Published:
07/11/2010
Submitter:
Daniela Wagstaff

Photo

Mt. Frissell Trail view south to CT of Riga Lake.jpg

Parking


View Taconic hike_Daniela in a larger map

Trailhead GPS Coordinates
42.05022, -73.46699
Driving Directions

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.

GPS coordinates to Mt. Frissell trailhead parking area: 42.05022, -73.46699

Description

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.


 

Comment: Please be relevant, civil, non-commercial.

info

is camping alowed?

Camping in the South Taconics

Backcountry primitive camping is allowed at designated sites along the Alander Mountain Trail in Mt. Washington State Forest (the campsites are accessed from the trailhead at the headquarters of Mt. Washington State Forest in Massachusetts).  Camping is also allowed at designated campsites and shelters along the Appalachian Trail (the Sages Ravine site is closest to the route of the hike). Campgrounds (for car camping) are available at Bash Bish Falls and Rudd Pond.  Backcountry camping along the route of the hike is not permitted.

Great Hike!

My girlfriend and I just did this hike last weekend and it was fantastic!  It was mostly sunny and the views from Round, Frissell, and especially Alander are spectacular.  Directions are spot on:  I would only underscore that, at the time of writing at least, the footpath leading to Alander's summit (instruction number 10 at Mile 5.1) is indeed a footpath and it is very poorly marked. Keep heading up and you are eventually rewarded with spectacular and far-reaching views.  And the writer's estimate of the time to complete the loop was equally spot on:  we stopped on several occasions to snack and take in the views and completed the tour just under 6 hours.   There's also a guest book at the summit of Frissell and another one at the CT high point.

Driving Directions are incorrect.

The author says: Follow East Street (will become a gravel road) for 2 miles to parking on right just before the MA/CT. This sentence should read: Follow East Street (will become a gravel road) for 3.6 miles to parking on right just before the MA/CT. its a good route, and except for this error directions are good. Highly advise carrying South Taconics map! Bill Walsh

Driving Direction Clarification

West Street becomes East Street and because it might not be clear where this transition occurs the distances may have been confused.  According to GoogleMaps, the exact distance driven on West Street is 2.1 miles and the total distance on East Street (both paved and gravel) is 2.6 miles.  Once East Street becomes a gravel road, it's a little over 2 miles to the parking area.