From the kiosk near the end of the parking area, enter the woods, following the Alander Mountain Trail, which is not blazed at this point. In 0.8 mile, after crossing a brook on a footbridge, you'll come to an intersection (marked by a sign) with the blue-blazed Ashley Hill Trail. Turn left and follow this pleasant trail for the next 3.5 miles, paralleling a brook for much of the way. In one...
From the kiosk near the end of the parking area, enter the woods, following the Alander Mountain Trail, which is not blazed at this point. In 0.8 mile, after crossing a brook on a footbridge, you'll come to an intersection (marked by a sign) with the blue-blazed Ashley Hill Trail. Turn left and follow this pleasant trail for the next 3.5 miles, paralleling a brook for much of the way. In one mile, proceed straight ahead where a side trail leads right to a camping area, but be sure to turn sharply left in two miles at a junction (also marked by a sign) to continue on the Ashley Hill Trail.
About 3.4 miles from the start of this trail, you'll pass on the right a Massachusetts/New York boundary monument, placed in 1898. A short distance beyond, you'll reach an intersection with the red-blazed Mount Frissell Trail. Turn left onto this trail, which soon begins to climb.
In a short distance, you'll pass another boundary monument - this one marking the point common to three states, Massachusetts, New York and Connecticut (although, interestingly, the name of Connecticut is not inscribed on the monument). Continue ahead, climbing a little more steeply, and in another quarter mile, you'll reach the highest point in Connecticut (marked by a green pipe and a cairn), with views south over Riga Lake. Proceed ahead on the trail for another 200 feet, and you'll come to an even more expansive viewpoint to the southeast. (If you wish, you can continue on for a short distance to the summit of Mount Frissell, where there is a trail register box, but there are no views from the summit.)
Now retrace your steps to the junction with the Ashley Hill Trail, and continue ahead on the Mount Frissell Trail to its terminus at the white-blazed South Taconic Trail. Turn right onto the South Taconic Trail, and you'll immediately reach a great viewpoint over New York to the west and Brace Mountain to the south. The trail continues along open rocks, with more views, for another quarter mile, then reenters the woods.
Continue ahead on the South Taconic Trail for the next 3.7 miles, proceeding ahead on the white-blazed trail at several intersections with blue- and red-blazed trails. After reaching an intersection in about 2.7 miles with the blue-blazed Alander Loop Trail, the South Taconic Trail bears left onto a footpath and descends rather steeply (on the way, rejoining the woods road). It crosses a brook at the base of the descent and soon turns right, leaving the woods road (be alert for this turn, which is easy to miss).
After steeply climbing about 600 vertical feet, the South Taconic Trail emerges on open rocks, near the New York-Massachusetts boundary, with spectacular views to the west and south. The trail continues along the ridge for another half mile until it reaches the west summit of Alander Mountain (marked by the foundations of a former fire tower), with more views.
About 300 feet beyond the summit, turn right at a sign for the park headquarters and descend rather steeply. As you descend, you will see a cabin below to the left. Bear left and pass in front of the cabin, then continue ahead on the white-blazed Alander Mountain Trail. Follow this trail for about three miles back to the parking area where the hike began.Publication: Submitted by Daniel Chazin on 09/09/2010
This tri-state loop hike climbs to the highest point in Connecticut and to several other panoramic viewpoints.
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.