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Tuesday, February 3, 2015

Phelps Trail(Taconics)

Following a large snow storm that dropped about a foot of snow in the area, I wanted to get out for a snowshoe hike to enjoy all the fresh new powder, so I headed over to the Phelps Trail in Williamstown, Massachusetts.  The trail is located off of gravel Oblong Road, which is accessed off Route 43 near the NY/ Mass state line.  Had to park along the side of the road today, due to the small parking lot being unplowed.
The breathtaking view of the Greylock Range from the trail head.
 A large wooden sign marks the beginning of the trail, which serves as an access trail to the Taconic Crest Trail, a ridge top trail which meanders along the NY/ Mass and NY/ Vermont state lines.
 Someone had broken trail for the first .3 mile or so but turned around, leaving me to break trail through over a foot of snow the rest of the way.  Here is an open meadow you pass through, before heading into the woods.
Hiking through open woods on a cold February afternoon.
 Although the sign at the trailhead says 1.5 miles, the trail actually climbs over 1300 feet in about 1.9 miles, and the deep snow made each step a challenge.
 There are no incredible vistas to be had, but many screened views into the Williamstown valley below.
 The trail continues its climb steeply to west, following blue markers the entire way.
 The afternoon sun just over the shoulder of the mountain.
 The Phelps Trail is a property of the Williamstown Rural Lands Foundation, who has helped to preserve over 3500 acres of land in the town.
 There were a few steeper sections of trail, which, when combined with the deeper snow near the ridge line, made hiking a grueling challenge at times.
Walking along a ridge over 2000 feet and approaching the Taconic Crest Trail.
After about 1.9 miles you arrive at the TCT, which runs north to south for over 35 miles. I turned around there and began heading back.  Coming down the trail with the sun sinking behind the mountain to the west.
 A glance at the steep slopes of the mountain.
 Coming back down the trail was a much easier, quicker hike.
 The Phelps Trail is located entirely on the eastern slopes of the mountain, meaning the hike back was completely in shadows in the late afternoon.
 Continuing the descent.
 Nearing the end of the trail, you begin to emerge from the shadows of the mountain, with sunshine visible through the trees.
Hiked a total of 3.8 miles up and down the east slopes of a shoulder of Misery Mountain in the Taconics.  My legs felt like jello as I arrived back at the car.

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