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Backpacker Magazine – BACKPACKER.com Online Exclusive

South Taconic Mountains, Connecticut

Connecticut's South Taconic Mountains have bald peaks, deep, forested gorges, and trees as old as the Mayflower.

by: BACKPACKER Editors

PAGE 1 2

Contact Information:

Mount Washington State Forest East Street Mount Washington, Massachusetts 01258 (413) 528-0330

Location:

The Taconics form a mountainous highland where the borders of New York, Massachusetts and Connecticut meet. Mount Washington State Forest and Mount Everett Reservation encompass much of the Massachusetts Taconics. Taconic State Park is in New York State. Tiny, undeveloped Riga State Park is in Connecticut.

Getting There:

The Taconics are 125 miles from New York City, 145 miles from Boston, and 50 miles from Hartford. New York Rt. 22 parallels the west ridge, and Massachusetts Rt. 41 the east. Rt. 344 penetrates the mountains at Copake Falls. Secondary roads give access to the highland interior.

Seasonal Information:

Contact the forest office for details.

Wildlife:

Deer, bears, raccoons, and snakes are common in the Taconics.

Insects:

Contact the forest office for details.

Plant Life:

The South Taconics are dominated by towering hemlocks that fill the gorges and filter the sun's rays through the dense canopy. A tiny grove of hemlocks in Massachusetts' Mount Washington State Forest contains the oldest trees in the state. One tree has been scientifically dated to 1620. The inaccessible Taconic ravines protected these virgin giants from the charcoal burners of the 18th and 19th centuries, when the mountains were stripped of trees to fire local iron mines.

Brace Mountain's desolate top is typical of a Taconics summit: windswept, grassy, tufted by high-bush blueberries, mountain laurel, scrub oak and birch.

Facilities:

The 4,500 acres of Massachusetts' Mount Washington State Forest offer beautiful primitive campsites on the Ashley Hill Trail, and a well-kept backpackers' cabin at Alander Mountain.

The Appalachian Mountain Club provides well-kept, designated campsites along the Appalachian Trail.

Taconic State Park, covering 5,000 acres in New York State, has major campgrounds at Copake Falls ((518) 329-3993) and Rudd Pond ((518) 789-3059).

Parking:

Contact the forest office for details.

Permits:

No permits are required, but register at the park headquarters when camping at the campground.

Policies:

Contact the forest office for details.

Hazards:

Contact the forest office for details.

Leave No Trace:

All LNT guidelines apply.

Maps:

The "New York Walk Book" highlights major trails and is available from:

New York-New Jersey Trail Conference 232 Madison Ave. Suite 908 New York, NY 10016 (212) 685-9699. The conference also sells an excellent waterproof map.

Maps and trail guide for the Appalachian Trail in Connecticut and Massachusetts are available from:

Appalachian Trail Conference Box 807 Harpers Ferry, WV 25425.

Other Trip Options: Contact the forest office for details.


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READERS COMMENTS

Paul Gagnon
Apr 17, 2009

Change your sub-caption. You were mostly within Massachusetts and somewhat less in New York; you did very little hiking in Connecticut. Mt. Everett is the highest point in the **South** Taconics; Mt. Equinox, of Vermont, is the highest point in the Taconics. Rattlesnakes, while resident in the South Taconics, are still rare. It might be worthwhile for your readers to know that it is probably unlikely that they will see one--rather than go with the current hype-up. Finally, there's lots of wilderness left in New England. Huge areas in Maine and New Hampshire. A number of federally designated wilderness areas, in both NH and VT, in fact. Did you mean "southern" New England?

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