Know the New Hiking How-tos
Race Brook Falls to Mount Race on the Appalachian Trail
Directions to trailhead
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 a little over 42 miles. After going around a bend to the left with yellow and black checkerboard painted on the embankment, turn right on Main Streat/U.S. 44. Proceed for 5.6 miles then turn left on Undermountain Road/CT 41 N. Enter Massachusetts in about 4 miles and continue another 3 miles to the parking area on the left just after passing the intersection of Salisbury Road. The parking area is an off-road paved pull-out with gravel space for about 5-6 cars.
From the center of the parking area follow a path away from the road towards a kiosk. Sign the trail register then turn around to find a post marking the trailhead of the Race Brook Falls Trail, which will be blazed with both blue rectangles and blue triangles. Turns are often marked by a triangle on its side pointing in the direction of the turn. Pay close attention to the placement of the triangles as these turns are not always obvious. The trail is well marked and appears to have been recently reblazed in areas but there is a network of unmarked trails. If you aren’t seeing blazes, you missed a turn. The two largest waterfalls are referred to as the upper falls and lower falls on trail signs.
Proceed along the trail crossing a dry creek bed on rocks then skirting a field briefly before entering the woods. At .3 mile arrive at a fork where the Race Brook Falls Trail continues to the left. It is worthwhile, however, to take a short out and back to the right (about .35 mile each way) to view the lower falls. This trail will be blazed with blue rectangles. There is another opportunity to take a side trail to the lower falls a little farther along but the views from this first side trail are much better. After viewing the falls return to the intersection and take the left fork to continue on the Race Brook Falls Trail to the upper falls. Watch for an unmarked left turn where you will need to cross over Race Brook on rocks. A short distance ahead climb two sections of steps then come to the second fork. The unmarked side trail to the right goes to the lower falls where views are obstructed by foliage. Nothing missed by skipping that so keep left following the sign to the Race Brook Campsite.
In another quarter of a mile rock hop over Race Brook and follow the trail away from the brook as it ascends more steeply. When the trail levels there will be partial “preview” views to the east through the trees but the real views are yet to come.
The trail returns to the brook, turns right and follows the brook. Cross over to the left on a log bridge then cross a feeder stream. A short distance ahead the trail passes through the Race Brook Campsite before following a switchback up short flights of rock steps.
At 2.6 miles the Race Brook Falls Trail ends at the Appalachian Trail. Turn left and follow the white blazes of the Appalachian Trail heading south through a swampy area. The trail will ascend with a couple of brief rock scrambles along the way. At 3.45 miles the last short scramble brings you up to the top of Mt. Race with a 360 degree view. It is said that the views from Mount Race far surpass those of the neighboring Mount Everett to the north, which is actually a higher mountain. A panorama of the Massachusetts countryside is to the east, Twin Lakes in Connecticut to the southeast, to the west is Alander Mountain with New York beyond, and on a clear day, the Catskills in the distance. Mt. Everett is to the immediate north.
This would be the turnaround point but before heading back you might want to go keep going another half mile south on the Appalachian Trail following the east rim of the ridge of Mt. Race. You’ll be treated to continuous views. Watch your step, it’s a straight drop down off the ridge. If a 14-mile hike is desired, keep heading south descending from Mt. Race into the wild and beautiful Sages Ravine, which is reached at the 6.25-mile point and continues on for another .75 mile. When ready, turn around and retrace your steps all the way back to the parking area to finish the hike.
[ 0.00] From parking area take trail starting at kiosk (sign trail register)
[ 0.30] Right at fork towards lower falls
[ 0.65] Lower falls; retrace
[ 1.00] Back at intersection take left fork towards upper falls; trail parallels creek; watch for unmarked left turn to rock hop over creek short distance ahead
[ 1.15] Ascend two sets of log steps
[ 1.35] Keep left towards Race Brook Campsite (right trail to lower falls does not provide as good of a view as the first trail to the lower falls)
[ 1.60] Rock hop over creek at top of lower falls; trail turns left away from creek and ascends more steeply
[ 1.75] Trail levels out with views to the east through the trees
[ 1.85] Trail reaches creek, turns right and follows along right side of creek
[ 1.95] Cross creek to left over log bridge
[ 2.10] Rock hop over feeder stream
[ 2.25] Continue through Race Brook Campsite
[ 2.50] Trail switchbacks up short flight of stone steps
[ 2.60] Turn left on white-blazed Appalachian Trail at intersection
[ 3.45] 360 degree views at top of rock scramble; retrace
[ 4.55] At intersection, right on blue triangle-blazed Race Brook Falls Trail
[ 4.80] Follow trail through Race Brook Falls Campsite
[ 5.25] Cross over log bridge
[ 5.35] Watch for left turn over creek where trail appears to go straight
[ 5.70] Cross creek at bottom of upper falls
[ 6.00] Keep straight when side trail to lower falls goes left
[ 6.25] Descend two sets of wooden steps
[ 6.35] Trail turns left and rock hops over creek
[ 6.50] Keep right at intersection where left goes to lower falls
[ 6.65] Trail exits woods and skirts small field
[ 6.75] Arrive at parking area