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Tuesday, October 4, 2016

Merck Forest and Farmland Center(Vermont)

Visited the Merck Forest & Farmland Center, just over the state line in Rupert, Vermont on an overcast, dreary Tuesday morning.  The Center is a non profit educational organization offering over 30 miles of trails on 3,100 acres of land, as well as a working 62 acre farm and sugaring operation.  Access is off the south side of Rupert Mountain Road(Route 315).   Follow a gravel road about half a mile beyond the sign at the road's entrance.  There you will find a sizable parking lot and visitor center.
 Once out of the car, I stopped at the visitor center to use the restroom and pick up a trail map and then was on my way.  Having a trail map is extremely useful here, as there are old roads and trails that criss-cross all over the place.  I walked the gravel road, known as Old Town Road, south through the working farm.
Sheep greeted me on my way. 
 Looking south where Old Town Road can be seen threading the hillside.
 Horses grazing, with early fall colors on Old Town Road as the back drop.
 Passing by the horses.
 The colors were a bit muted on this cloudy day, but they are still coming along nicely.
 Small Page Pond sits just off the road and down the hill.
 After a brief stop at Page Pond, I continued along Old Town Road passing by more farm fields.
 Across these farm fields are far reaching views to the northwest.
 One last look at the farm area, as the road enters the woods.
 The woods section of the road was very scenic and shaded.
 I followed Old Town Road to its junction with Antone Road.  This road is a bit rougher and climbs steadily up to Antone Mountain's 2600 foot summit.  After 2.5 miles from the car, I arrived at the mostly cloudy but still panoramic summit view.
 That is Merck's working farm far below tucked into the hills.
 A closer look at the farm from the summit.
 
 Continuing a few hundred feet past the summit and slightly lower in elevation brings you to.....
 ...a much broader, north facing vista in a large clearing.  A bench beckons you to rest here, soaking in the views.
 Northwest view towards the Champlain Valley.
 The cleared area on this north shoulder of Antone Mountain provide excellent views, even on an overcast day.
 Fall colors drape the nearby forested hillsides.

 Farmland and peaks dot the landscape below.  This was a great spot to enjoy the views and I lingered for quite a while here.
 Finally leaving the summit area, as the clouds thickened even more, seeming to threaten of rain, but never came.
 On the hike back off Antone Mountain, I dropped down the .4 mile Ski Trail, which provides excellent north views from a couple of small openings on the steep hillside.  Here is a great view towards nearby peaks, framed by the beautiful foliage.
 The Ski Trail brings you back to Antone Road, which I followed back to Old Town Road again.  Instead of heading back towards the cabin, I turned east here onto Spruce Road.
 Spruce Road quickly meets with a side foot trail, called the Viewpoint Trail.  This trail lives up to its name as it ascends to a large meadow with great views.  I really enjoyed the view back towards Antone Mountain, the peak I had just came off of.
 Looking out beyond the meadow from the Viewpoint Cabin.
 North facing views towards rolling peaks.
 A last look back at Viewpoint Cabin and the open meadow.
 I took a short spur trail east through the woods to Lodge Road, which in turn brought me to the Barton Trail.  The Barton Trail is the steepest trail on the property, climbing directly up on its way towards 2585 foot Gallop Peak. 
 I took the Barton Trail all the way towards the summit of Gallop Peak, which was just off trail and fully wooded with no views. There are a couple of small views through the treetops near the summit, but nothing of relevance.
 After dropping off the summit area, the Barton Trail continues south until it meets up with Gallop Road.  I then followed Gallop Road, as it swings around the southeast edge of the summit area and then heads due north back towards the farm area.  This is a pretty steep drop along a wide woods road.  Once back by the farm, I once again enjoyed the views, as skies looked like they may clear out a bit.
 I noticed some nice east facing views from Stone Lot Road towards what I believe to be Dorset Peak.  The slowly clearing skies made for a nice perspective.
 Passing by the long distant views from the farm.
 Looking back up at Gallop Peak's fall colors.
 I really enjoyed my time here, quietly strolling along the gravel roads past the barns and animals and finally through the gorgeous woods. 
Got back to my car, feeling great, having climbed two peaks and reveling in the solitude.  Such a unique hiking experience. Total mileage for the day was just over 7 miles RT.

5 comments:

  1. Wow, I think you covered the entire Merck Forest! I have been going there since I was a kid, what a feeling of peace & solitude...I always have that same feeling when I get back to the car.

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    1. Such a unique hiking experience! Only wish it would've been a brighter day

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  2. Thank you for introducing us to this unique hiking opportunity. I went to their website to determine whether dogs are allowed, but could not find a reference to that. We are being a bit shy about wanting to definitely know beforehand. We recently went to Pleasant Valley Sanctuary in Lenox, only to find that dogs are not permitted. Any guidance on Merck would be appreciated, since we know you have a dog yourself. Best regards, Bill

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    1. Hi Bill, yes dogs are allowed there, but must be leashed in certain spots(around the farm animals). Signs are posted in these areas. This is such a beautiful place to hike. I hope you enjoy your visit!

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    2. Great news....thank you!!
      In a different area, we are going to the Burlington, VT area for a long weekend from the 20th - 25th on Lake Champlain. Any suggestions for good hiking within a radius of an hour of car travel to get there from Burlington?? We are staying at a home on the Lake, but with direct access to Eagle Mountain's trails right adjacent. That will be good, but also looking for additional areas (with dog). Thanks very much. You are incredibly helpful with your posts!!
      Bill Nadeau, Wynantskill

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