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Thread: Bushwhacking from AT to South Taconic Trail

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    Bushwhacking from AT to South Taconic Trail

    EDITED TO ADD: Post #58 of this thread, 7/8/2015, has attached a text description of the Route as of that date, a GPS Track file, and an overall map of the Route. Message #60 adds some minor updates as of a trip I took in October 2018.


    Off and on over the years I've looked at the South Taconic Trail (STT) along the Mass/NY border as it approaches the Appalachian Trail (AT) just South of Jug End, and wondered about a Northwest passage from the AT to the STT.

    Such a crossing would create a huge loop since the trails are linked on the South at the CT/MASS border or even further South, making for wonderful multi-day trips in this area.

    Once you get to it from the AT, a portion of the Jug End Loop Trail puts you on a nice S-to-N trail paralleling close to the STT to the West. Access from there would be over, or in the passes between, Mt. Darby, Mt. Sterling, or Mt. Whitbeck. Obviously East Street (or Mt. Washington Rd) would have to be crossed.

    [Updated later: more recent maps have shown very little private property remains to get around]

    [Updated to add: I am going to try to annotate my posts like this as we learn more, rather than simply clarifying further into the thread.]

    If anybody has bushwhacked all or parts of this Northwest passage I'd like to hear some tips. Old paths and woods roads, game trails, and just open woods without brambles are what I'll be looking for.
    Last edited by Will; 10-24-2018 at 04:00 PM.

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    I've pondered the same thing. I don't think there's a better route in the north than the one you described. If you try this much further south than Sterling, you run into private property along East St. If you try it near the southern terminus of the STT, you'd have to cross Mt. Riga Corp's land, which I understand they don't take kindly to.

    The closest thing that I've considered to a NW passage as you've described is going through the col between Mt. Darby and "Yagar Pond Peak" (x604.5 on the USGS quad.) Several maps I have indicate that a trail a trail or jeep path runs through it from the vicinity of the Jug End reservation to East St., but I'm not sure about the legality of crossing that land and I'm not even sure that the trail exists because there are discrepancies in the maps.

    The best route I came up with was taking the AT north to Bear Mtn and then bearing left at the "trail" that comes in a bit after the junction with the Undermountain trail (it's unmarked, but apparently well used.) This will put you on East St. right near the CT/MA border. A five minute road walk will bring you to the Frissel trail trailhead, and that can be followed out to Brace Mtn. and the STT. I've done this several times and it works well. A loop back onto the AT could be reached at the end of the STT by bushwhacking over Sterling/Whitbeck to Jug End like you described.

    If you want a variation on that route with more bushwhacking, you could also follow the AT into Sages Ravine, then bushwhack north to Mt. Plantain. Some maps show a forest road running along the west side of Plantain (I've never actually looked for it, but I'm confident that it exists. My BNRC map even indicates that there's parking available on it,) which could be followed to East St. It'd put you out at near the base of Mt. Ashley, crossing which would put you on the STT somewhere south of Alander Mtn.

    (Ashley is a worthwhile bushwhack in its own right if you haven't done it. There are some great ledges between it and Frissel. Plantain is... less worthwhile. About all you get there are views through the trees of Bear and the Twin Lakes. Incidentally, I did find a trail of some sort on Plantain. It's yellow blazed and not indicated on any map. By the time I found it, it was getting dark, so I didn't investigate. It may lead back to the road I mentioned earlier.)
    Last edited by Taconic; 10-18-2009 at 05:23 PM.

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    Senior Member MichaelJ's Avatar
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    On Mohammed's web site he describes a route starting at Bear on the AT and going over to the state high point on Frissell. From there I've been on the trail that continues to the tri-state marker and the South Taconic Trail. Is this route what you're looking for, or am I too far south?

    http://home.earthlink.net/~ellozy/mount-frissell.html

    EDIT: looked at the map again, yeah, I'm looking waaaaay too far south.
    May your trails be crooked, winding, lonesome, dangerous, leading to the most amazing view. May your mountains rise into and above the clouds. - Edward Abbey

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    Senior Member Mike P.'s Avatar
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    Michael, I think they are looking at is a way to loop that with a Northern bushwhack so you have a great circle. Bear & Frissel would be the southern connection but there is no northern connector between the two main trails.

    Because some of the area is part of the Riga Trust, you will want to try & stay off their land, I believe some of the existing trails are easments they allow. At one point south of Bear & just north of Lion's Head, hikers were granted access to Bald Peak. (it had a very nice view from an open ledge, I was there in the 1990's) I believe that the trail has been a closed a few years.
    Have fun & be safe
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    Quote Originally Posted by MichaelJ View Post
    too far south.
    Yeah. There are quite a few connections on the south, some of them do unfortunately cross Riga Inc but I thought I had read they were tolerant of hikers, just no camping, or hunting without permission, etc. But there are also some completely legal connections on the south, for example using Mt. Washington Rd, which is very pleasant to walk.

    [Updated later: recent land acquisitions seem to be adding flexibility to the southern end of this potential loop as well]

    What would make the area great would be to close the loop at the north. With the many side trails and areas to explore this would make multi/many-day hikes possible without having to spot a car or backtrack.
    Last edited by Will; 10-20-2009 at 10:26 PM.

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    Senior Member Mike P.'s Avatar
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    They are tolerant to hikers staying on the trails where they have granted access. Some areas I believe though are intended only for their use. (The pond I believe is one such place)

    I've thought for years about bushwhacking to Gridley Mt. In CT, it would be I believe the third highest peak in CT. (Bear at 2316, Round & then Gridley at 2,211 - the map is in the car, I'm just off memory)

    Camping I think they are okay with as long as you are in designated spots. There is no overnight parking at the Southern terminus of the STT in the neighborhood but I think that's a neighborhood issue not a Riga issue. Isn't there (was) a shelter on Alander, right. (I haven't been north of the trail to Frissel on the STT)
    Have fun & be safe
    Mike P.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Taconic View Post
    going through the col between Mt. Darby and "Yagar Pond Peak" (x604.5 on the USGS quad.) Several maps I have indicate that a trail a trail or jeep path runs through it from the vicinity of the Jug End reservation to East St., but I'm not sure about the legality of crossing that land and I'm not even sure that the trail exists because there are discrepancies in the maps.
    Does exist and it's a possible start. I went up that way once, though not as far as East St. It's a very well-defined path. The advantage is it gets a lot of the climbing out of the way on a good path. But as you mention you are off Park land and potentially not legal

    [updated later, probably legal, though maybe not the last few hundred feet to East St; there is however, a narrow public land corridor to East ST for that last, either exactly here or very close]

    What I was looking for the day I did that, and one potential I will be exploring soon, is if I can find something going off to the right (north) of that path once you get the climbing done. Maybe at around the x562 pond climb north and contour around just east of Darby's peak, then either duck west between Darby & Sterling or continue to contour to the north around Sterling.

    [EDIT:] None of this panned out, in terms of an easily describable non-bushwhacking (literally) route.
    Last edited by Will; 10-24-2018 at 03:30 PM.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Mike P. View Post
    I've thought for years about bushwhacking to Gridley Mt. In CT, it would be I believe the third highest peak in CT. (Bear at 2316, Round & then Gridley at 2,211 - the map is in the car, I'm just off memory)
    I'll start by saying that I once tried to bushwhack to Bald--I had no idea about the old AT spur to it. I found the trail. The trail was heavily posted, so I left. I have no desire to trespass.

    In regards to Gridley, I also wanted to do it for years, so I looked at maps and worked out a route that I was reasonably sure would steer me clear of land that was posted. I bushwhacked it by way of the AT and kept an eye out for any sort of property boundaries, but I saw nothing. I'm not sure who owns the land, but considering that access to the jeep trail is allowed, that Gridley itself is not posted (at least to the south and east) while the surrounding land that is private is heavily posted, and that it is so close to areas in which access is allowed, I think access may be tolerated.

    Though I wouldn't recommend it. There are no views, the east face is a lot steeper than you'd think, there are swamps to cross, and the mountain laurel is thicker than anywhere else on the plateu--I have scars on my arms from pushing through it. I've been told that there's actually a cairn on the summit, presumably left over from the time in which the area was deforested, but I couldn't find it.

    Isn't there (was) a shelter on Alander, right. (I haven't been north of the trail to Frissel on the STT)
    There is (or was the last time I was there) a "cabin" just below the summit of Alander.

    I'm not sure I'd want to stay in it, though. I've never been in it (it has always been occupied in the mornings I've passed it,) but it looks like it should have collapsed about 20 years ago. It's pretty rough. I remember reading somewhere that it was supposed to be torn down when the firetower was removed, but wasn't.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Will View Post
    Does exist and it's a possible start. I went up that way once, though not as far as East St. It's a very well-defined path. The advantage is it gets a lot of the climbing out of the way on a good path. But as you mention you are off Park land and potentially not legal. What I was looking for the day I did that, and one potential I will be exploring soon, is if I can find something going off to the right (north) of that path once you get the climbing done. Maybe at around the x562 pond climb north and contour around just east of Darby's peak, then either duck west between Darby & Sterling or continue to contour to the north around Sterling.
    Interesting. I can't imagine that it's a "private" road because the maps indicate that it doesn't actually go anywhere.

    Since you seem to be much more familiar with that end of the plateau than me, let me ask you this: Is access to the summit Mt. Darby allowed? This is another point that my maps seem to disagree on. I know that is where the transmitters are, but I've never been close enough to see if it's posted.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Taconic View Post
    Is access to the summit Mt. Darby allowed? This is another point that my maps seem to disagree on. I know that is where the transmitters are, but I've never been close enough to see if it's posted.
    I've never bee up that high. There is, as you know, a road up to the towers from the west.

    The towers are_definitely_ just off the Park boundary. Just going by the topo there seem to be some ledges to the east that are nearly at the peak and they are definitely within the Park. Those ledges have actually been on my bushwhack list for a long time.

    BTW the Alander cabin mentioned was still there a month or so ago, occupied when I passed. I think I remember there was smoke so it may have a stove,

    On the subject of ramshackle cabins in the area, there is one just east of the southeastern tip of the Jug End Loop Trail (actually the tip of the more southern of the 2 loops). It is even faintly possible that this was once the "destination" of the woods road/path we just spoke of, coming in from East St.

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    I haven't read this whole thread, and should, but all of the Mt Riga Corp property is identified here as "No Trespassing". Between that and the fact that it's hunting season I'd skip the bushwhacking in the area. Lattinhill here is much more familiar with the NY side than I am, maybe he'll chime in.
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    Quote Originally Posted by Taconic View Post
    If you want a variation on that route with more bushwhacking, you could also follow the AT into Sages Ravine, then bushwhack north to Mt. Plantain.
    Please don't do this. Almost nothing is gained as there are official trails east and west out of Sages. The area you would cross there is popular with hunters, crosses private property and then a YMCA camp.
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    Quote Originally Posted by Will View Post
    Old paths and woods roads, game trails, and just open woods without brambles are what I'll be looking for.
    Without better info I think your safest bet is from Everett across the Guilder Pond Trail to East St and then south to the Alander Mtn Trail to the STT, or further north it would involve more roads: Jug End Rd to Mt Washington Rd and then straight up the northeast shoulder of Mt Fray towards Catamount.
    Last edited by Chip; 10-19-2009 at 08:49 AM.
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    Senior Member Chip's Avatar
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    If you click on this map link you can then expand and search the map by clicking on its lower right corner. Between Mt Washington Rd and the STT; there seems to be a trail near the stream/ravine between Fray and Prospect Hill and a road between Prospect Hill and Dugway. I'm interested in this area also as I have only ever done the AT up there.
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    Quote Originally Posted by Chip View Post
    Between Mt Washington Rd and the STT; there seems to be a trail near the stream/ravine between Fray and Prospect Hill
    [[Updated later:]This was a key contribution. There is both a dirt road, fully legal to walk as long as you don't stray off the road onto two (maybe three) private holdings which are posted. This is part of the final route I posted. There is also an old parallel trail on the other side of the stream that is badly overgrown and difficult.
    Last edited by Will; 10-24-2018 at 03:12 PM.

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