Lake George

Lake George
Lake George - from Tongue Mtn Range - 11/11/2011

Sunday, March 25, 2018

Antone Mountain - Merck Forest and Farmland Center - 3/25/18

This hike was a shocker for me.  I had chosen this hike for today by just studying a topo map.  I  wasn't sure if there would be a trail or if I would be bushwhacking through the woods.  What I found was the Merck Forest and Farmland Center.   This center manages 3162 acres and is a non-profit educational organization with a mission to teach and demonstrate innovative a and sustainable management of forest and farmland.  Quite different from what I was expecting!  All I was hoping for was a place to pulloff on the side of the road.  Merck Forest has a visitor center, a working farm, rustic cabin rentals, workshops and educational programs and 30+ miles of hiking trails... quintessential New England.

It took me a little while to get over the shock of what I had run into.  This farm center was quite a pleasant surprise.  My plan had been to climb Antone Mountain (2600').  Once I got oriented, I found that a woods road, Antone Road, leads almost to the summit.  The whole farm and forest complex is quite an attractive area for xc skiers, and I saw a number of them out today catching some last spring miles in the snow.  The cabin rentals sound appealing also.  I'll have to find out more about that.  Details are at

The signage at VT 315

The visitor center.

The sap house.

Mount Antone in the center background.

The animal barns

The sap was running!

Antone Road

Lots of choices

Page Pond

Rev and I had another late 2 PM start, but again this was a short hike, 5.5 miles round trip.  It was an easy walk at a continuous moderate grade on a packed trail.  A snow squall came through and there were some interesting skies which made for the fun photo opportunities.

I must admit that hiking through a farm to start a hike feels quite different than taking a hike in the Adirondacks, but that made it all the more appealing to have a different experience.  The entire wooded portion of the hike was through hardwoods.  That was also different.

Rev, climbing Antone Road

The view from Antone Mountain.  The Merck Farm can be seen down below in the center.

Gallop Peak is the back right.

Rev on Antone Mountain

Leaving the summit.

Going back down Antone Road.  This would be a nice downhill xc ski. 

Returning to the farm.

I was sorry that Leesa was not with me on this day.  I will be back soon with her to see other parts of this phenomenal Merck Forest.  A map of the Merck Farm trail system can be found here.

Hike Stats:
Hike Distance:  5.5 miles
Hike Time:  2 hours
Total Vertical Gain:  ~1000'  

The route

Haystack Mountain - Pawlet, VT - 3/24/18

I feel guilty.  I haven't posted a blog post in two months.  It's not that I haven't been hiking, but I've done a lot or repeats lately and I don't want to just re-post a hike solely to discuss changes in trail conditions.  Leesa and I have done a lot of Adirondack High Peaks in the last couple months in order to make progress on her winter 46 list.  They've been good hikes, but I've sufficed with a Facebook post here and there.

This weekend I ventured East into Vermont on Saturday for a short hike up Haystack Mountain in Pawlet.  It was another repeat hike, but this time there was snow on the ground.  I last climbed this peak on New Year's Day 2012 and there was no snow on the ground.    It was a great afternoon hike after having climbed Mount Equinox in the AM.

It's been 6 years, so time for a re-visit and so the mountain in snow conditions.  I had a 2 PM start, but the hike is only 3.3 miles round trip, so the late start was not a problem.  As we were parking, another car pulled in and hopped out with a dog and started hiking.

I finished putting on my boots and snowshoes and Rev and I started out.  We passed the woman and her dog Garcia after a short while.  The woman didn't have her snowshoes (and she was wishing she had them).  Her footing was less than ideal.

Haystack provides an imposing backdrop 

The beginning of the foot trail

A profile view from the east

Rev and I reach the summit in about 30 minutes.  It was a beautiful sunny afternoon.  I took the opportunity to drink the hot chocolate that I had packed. I also snacked on some trail mix and gave Rev a few treats.

Garcia and her human showed up after a few minutes and we had a pleasant conversation.  Rev and Garcia did the same.   Afterwords they left and Rev and I stayed on the summit a little longer to enjoy the afternoon sun.      

The summit of Haystack.

Looking south.  VT Route 30 down below. 

Looking east.

Looking north to Middle Mountain and Pine Mountain, the other two sister peaks.

It was easy to head down in the soft snow with snowshoes on.  The gravel road and the bottom was mud, but the trail was fine in the snow.

This is a great little peak with fine views.  The vertical gain is about a 1000'.  A lot of bang for the buck and well worth 2-3 hours of your time.  The parking is on Waite Hill Road in Pawlet.  A small sign is on the north side where a narrow dirt road is the beginning of the hike until a foot trail veers off to the left.

Hike Stats:
Hike Distance 3.3 miles round trip
Hike Time:  2+ hours
Total Vertical Gain:  ~1000'