Sunday, April 15, 2018

Gettysburg Quarry and Gilbert Lookout - Owl's Head Town Forest - Dorset, VT - 4/14/18

Dorset Vermont is full of history.  It's apparent in the town.   It's apparent in the quarries.  Just google Dorset Quarry; it's a fascinating story.  It's amazing that it's still privately owned, yet the owners for the past 20 years have maintained the quarry as a swimming hole and place of enjoyment for the public.   That may be coming to an end unless the Town of Dorset or some public entity steps in to help.  I'm hopeful that some arrangement can be made that can benefit all.

Other nearby quarries exist that are not visible from Route 30.  On the hillside above Dorset Quarry lies Gettysburg Quarry; so named after the amount of marble that came out of the quarry for headstones for men who died in the Battle of Gettysburg.   The Town of Dorset has acquired this property and there is now a trail that leads to the old quarry.  Access to this trailhead is from Route 30 (just south of Dorset) to Black Rock Lane to Ken's Camp Road to Owl's Head Town Forest parking area and kiosk.

The hike from the trailhead to the quarry is short (0.5 miles), but climbs steeply and the trail goes past the cellar holes that remain from the migrant worker houses. 

The trail passes this cellar hole.  Several others can be seen from the Trail.

Just before the quarry a short ridge leads to a viewpoint where the town has placed a large slab of marble (Art's Bench).

Rev at "Art's Rock"

Gettysburg Quarry was next.  It was quite an impressive site.  It must have been a chore getting the marble out from this location.  The six pictures below don't capture it very well.

Gettysburg Quarry

From the quarry, Leesa and I wanted to go to Gilbert's Lookout, the next location described in the town's trail description.   Blue trail markers led away from the quarry heading southwest then northeast, skirting around an unnamed hill.  Upon reaching a saddle, the last blue marker directed hikers again to go southwest around another unnamed hill.  The trail was obvious, but blue markers no longer existed; only painted metal can lids.  Soon we past posted signs (William Burns) and trail cameras.  I was beginning to think we were in the wrong spot, but the written description in the brochure matched what we were seeing.  It appears that ownership of the property is in dispute as I read later.   Here is a map that is on the internet that show the property allegedly owned by William Burns. If you look, you can see the trail (shown in red) crosses the Burns property.

Stone steps at a switchback on the blue trail.

The trail description said " Continue on the blue trail as it reaches a flat hilltop with a view of Owls Head; the trail continues through a saddle to a 15 foot high boulder on the right.  At this point the trail turns left, with a steep zig zag climb up the cliff another 0.10 miles."   The flat hilltop is part of the property that is in dispute.  None of this was parked with trail markers, although the path to the boulder was easy to follow.

We found the boulder and a faint herd path scrambling up the steep hillside.  This would not be a good trail to take young children or people who are afraid of heights. 

The Gilbert Lookout, is a rock outcropping on the west side of Owls Head that has been marked with a marble plaque.  This plaque is very old and supposedly has been at this site since 1945.  The Dedication of Gilbert Outlook is quite fascinating and is worth a read.  There are some old wrought iron nails that help hold the marble sign in place.  The view from the lookout is quite spectacular, although we were there on a dreary day.

Gilbert Lookout sign


View from Gilbert Lookout

Thee was no trail to the top of Owls Head, but we bushwhacked the short distance to the top where we found a small American flag in a tree and a glass note with note paper and pencils to sign in.  Several people wrote that they had been searching for the Gilbert Lookout and had been unable to find it.

Summit of Owls Head

Below are a bunch more pictures from Gilbert Lookout.

This hike was short, but well worth the trip, especially if you like to see a little history during the course of your hike.  

Hike Stats:
Hike Distance:  4.4 miles roundtrip
Hike Time:  3 hours
Total Vertical Gain:  ~1400'  

The route

1 comment:

  1. Dreary day hike? Quite common here in Vermont. Pay attention to the local weather report and plan the hike for a nice day. Be patient. Vermont gets nice weather, that is, if you wait a minute.