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...
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.
Turn By Turn Description:
[ 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
Ascend through the peaceful forests surrounding beautiful Race Brook Falls to arrive at the summit of Mount Race for a half-mile long ridge section with spectacular panoramic views.
Whether you are going for a day hike or backpacking overnight, it is good practice to carry what we call The Hiking Essentials. These essentials will help you enjoy your outing more and will provide basic safety gear if needed. There may also be more essentials, depending on the season and your needs.
Hiking Shoes or Boots
Water - Two quarts per person is recommended in every season. Keep in mind that fluid loss is heightened in winter as well as summer. Don't put yourself in the position of having to end your hike early because you have run out of water.
Map - Know where you are and where you are going. Many of our hiking areas feature interconnecting network of trails. Use a waterproof/tear-resistant Tyvek Trail Conference map if available or enclose your map in a Ziplock plastic bag. If you have a mobile device, download Avenza’s free PDF Maps app and grab some GPS-enhanced Trail Conference maps (a backup Tyvek or paper version of the map is good to have just in case your batteries die or you don't have service). Check out some map-reading basics here.
Food - Snacks/lunch will keep you going as you burn energy walking or climbing. Nuts, seeds, and chocolate are favorites on the trail.
Sunscreen and insect repellent
Rain Gear and Extra Clothing - Rain happens. So does cold. Be prepared for changing weather. Avoid cotton--it traps water against your skin and is slow to dry. If you are wearing wet cotton and must return to your starting point, you risk getting chills that may lead to a dangerous hypothermia. Choose synthetic shirts, sweaters and/or vests and dress in layers for easy on and off.
Compass - A simple compass is all you need to orient you and your map to magnetic north.
Light - A flashlight or small, lightweight headlamp will be welcome gear if you find yourself still on the trail when darkness falls. Check the batteries before you start out and have extras in your pack.
First Aid Kit - Keep it simple, compact, and weatherproof. Know how to use the basic components.
Firestarter and Matches - In an emergency, you may need to keep yourself or someone else warm until help arrives. A firestarter (this could be as simple as leftover birthday candles that are kept inside a waterproof container) and matches (again, make sure to keep them in a waterproof container) could save a life.
Knife or Multi-tool - You may need to cut a piece of moleskin to put over a blister, repair a piece of broken equipment, or solve some other unexpected problem.
Emergency Numbers - Know the emergency numbers for the area you're going to and realize that in many locations--especially mountainous ones, your phone will not get reception.
Common Sense - Pay attention to your environment, your energy, and the condition of your companions. Has the weather turned rainy? Is daylight fading? Did you drink all your water? Did your companion fail to bring rain gear? Are you getting tired? Keep in mind that until you turn around you are (typically) only half-way to completing your hike--you must still get back to where you started from! (Exceptions are loop hikes.)
Check the weather forecast before you head out. Know the rules and regulations of the area.
The Leave No Trace Seven Principles
- Know the regulations and special concerns for the area you'll visit.
- Prepare for extreme weather, hazards, and emergencies.
- Schedule your trip to avoid times of high use.
- Visit in small groups when possible. Consider splitting larger groups into smaller groups.
- Repackage food to minimize waste.
- Use a map and compass to eliminate the use of marking paint, rock cairns or flagging.
- Durable surfaces include established trails and campsites, rock, gravel, dry grasses or snow.
- Protect riparian areas by camping at least 200 feet from lakes and streams.
- Good campsites are found, not made. Altering a site is not necessary.
- In popular areas:
- Concentrate use on existing trails and campsites.
- Walk single file in the middle of the trail, even when wet or muddy.
- Keep campsites small. Focus activity in areas where vegetation is absent.
- In pristine areas:
- Disperse use to prevent the creation of campsites and trails.
- Avoid places where impacts are just beginning.
- Pack it in, pack it out. Inspect your campsite and rest areas for trash or spilled foods. Pack out all trash, leftover food and litter.
- Deposit solid human waste in catholes dug 6 to 8 inches deep, at least 200 feet from water, camp and trails. Cover and disguise the cathole when finished.
- Pack out toilet paper and hygiene products.
- To wash yourself or your dishes, carry water 200 feet away from streams or lakes and use small amounts of biodegradable soap. Scatter strained dishwater.
- Preserve the past: examine, but do not touch cultural or historic structures and artifacts.
- Leave rocks, plants and other natural objects as you find them.
- Avoid introducing or transporting non-native species.
- Do not build structures, furniture, or dig trenches.
- Campfires can cause lasting impacts to the backcountry. Use a lightweight stove for cooking and enjoy a candle lantern for light.
- Where fires are permitted, use established fire rings, fire pans, or mound fires.
- Keep fires small. Only use sticks from the ground that can be broken by hand.
- Burn all wood and coals to ash, put out campfires completely, then scatter cool ashes.
- Observe wildlife from a distance. Do not follow or approach them.
- Never feed animals. Feeding wildlife damages their health, alters natural behaviors, and exposes them to predators and other dangers.
- Protect wildlife and your food by storing rations and trash securely.
- Control pets at all times, or leave them at home.
- Avoid wildlife during sensitive times: mating, nesting, raising young, or winter.
- Respect other visitors and protect the quality of their experience.
- Be courteous. Yield to other users on the trail.
- Step to the downhill side of the trail when encountering pack stock.
- Take breaks and camp away from trails and other visitors.
- Let nature's sounds prevail. Avoid loud voices and noises.
The Trail Conference is a 2015 Leave No Trace partner.
(c) Leave No Trace Center for Outdoor Ethics: www.LNT.org.