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Sunday, July 5, 2015

Buckner Memorial Preserve at Bald Mountain(Vermont)

Got out for an early morning hike at the Helen W. Buckner Memorial Preserve at Bald Mountain, located just over the New York state line in West Haven, Vermont.  These 3,827 acres are preserved by the Nature Conservancy and encompass much of the peninsula of Vermont that is surrounded by New York, offering glimpses at many rare and uncommon animal and plant habitat.
      To find the preserve, drive east on Route 4 out of the village of Whitehall and turn left onto 9A, until you arrive at Route 9 and then bear left.  Take your first right onto Route 10(Doig Street) and then bear left where the road splits after half a mile.  Almost immediately you will cross a bridge over the Polutney River.  Bearing left, you will now be driving on gravel Galick Road.  The parking area is a small pull off along the side of the road directly below large, steep cliffs.  A small sign indicates the trail entrance.  Unfortunately, it was a bit dreary and there was even a slight drizzle as I arrived.
 Tim's Trail leaves the road and quickly enters the woods following the base of the cliffs.
 After .2 miles you arrive at a very informative kiosk, with trail brochures and maps.  This is where I paused to secure my gaiters, which are an essential on this hike due to the rattlesnake population at the preserve and recent rains.
Following along the foot of the cliffs.
 Climbing up to the ledges, there are many views just a few yards off the trail
 East facing views over Ward Marsh and towards rolling peaks.
The rocky cliffs have extremely steep drop offs.
 This is a spot on the cliff directly above where I had parked the car, with Galick Road clearly visible. As I followed the cliffs, the sun began to break through the clouds, beginning to heat things up.
 Once leaving the rock cliffs, the trail turns north and enters a hemlock forest, crossing a small stream.
The trail soon emerges into large, grassy woods climbing to another overlook.
 An incredible view southwest over South Bay and the Route 22 bridge.
 Looking directly down at the Poultney River to the south.
 Steep east facing cliffs.
 The north edge of Tim's Trail closely follows an old stone wall. 
 A fantastic vantage point with views to the south and west.
 Where the Poultney River meets South Bay.
 Luckily, the only snake I saw was this garter snake.
I left Tim's Trail and followed a one mile connector trail that leads to the 2 mile Susan Bacher Trail on the north section of the preserve. The connector trail crosses directly over the wooded summit of Austin Hill on its way.
 The connector trail soon emerges to wide open fields and views.
 This section of trail passes through wildflowers and meadows.
 A nearby barn makes for a perfect setting.
 After finishing the Susan Bacher Trail, I opted to hike back via quiet gravel Galick Road, which parallels the Poultney River.  The road hike was just over a mile long, and afforded me the chance to view several boaters out enjoying the holiday weekend.
The river is overflowing its banks from all of our recent rains.  Here is a spot that the waves are splashing out onto the road.
Flooded shoreline.
The road provides a great look at the rock cliffs that I had been on a short time before.
Taking one last look back at the rocky cliffs from Galick Road.
Hiked a total of 5.8 miles RT, with many wildlife observations along the way.

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