Mt. Tom State Forest
|Mt Tom State Forest is a 1780 Acres forest in Washington County. There are 2 main trail systems with various side paths|
Western Trail System
The Mt Tom State Forest western trail is accessed from the Shaker Hollow Road which is a narrow dirt road in better condition than the paved Lincoln Hill road immediately adjacent to it. At the end of the road is a Y, the left branch ending shortly thereafter at a gate and the right branch turning into a truck trail which is technically drivable in season for about a mile. A few cars can be parked on the right fork without blocking the truck trail and there are several parking areas along the truck trail. Most cars should be able to easily get to the first big clearing in season, there is a stream to get across a little ways after that.
There is a main loop marked with blue DEC snowmobile markers which is about three miles. Some of the side trails are also marked with these markers though which can be confusing. There are also some side trails marked with a dull red DEC horse trail marker. About a mile along the truck trail there is a path to the left marked with a sign prohibiting motorized vehicles which is the loop trail. After another mile and half this trail crosses a power line which you can go left on for a short distance back to the Shaker Hollow Road which goes downhill for a half mile or so back to the gate.
It's possible to continue on the other side of the powerline for short distance before coming to the end of the state forest. The road continues and is not posted but there is a sign indicating that the land beyond that point is private. Likewise the truck trail continues for a distance however the markers just seemed to stop without an indication that the boundary had been reached. Shaker Hollow Road does continue to the top of the hill where there is some sort of FAA installation. You can see for quite a distance to the SW although there is a lot of small growth interrupting the view.
The truck trail apparently sees a lot of snowmobile traffic and has gentle grades until you get to the loop trail where it becomes steeper and more rough. The loop trail has some tricky sections for skiers, steep downhills with sharp turns at the bottom. As you approach the top of the ridge there is a horse trail leading right which seemed like it would be less steep to get over the ridge and then bushwack a short distance back to the main trail. There are also apparently some unmarked trails that skiers experienced in the area use to avoid some of the other rough spots. Shaker Hollow Road also gets some snowmobile traffic, unfortunately perhaps because while there is space to get around the gate to the left, there isn't much snow after that before getting to someone's driveway and while the road is relatively wide there may not be enough unpacked snow to slow you down sufficiently if you were to attempt to ski down it.
Eastern Trail System
The Eastern trail system has 5 to 6 miles of trails that is accessed from Lincoln Hill Road or Notch Lane. The trails are all linked but there's no grand loop so some backtracking is required. There is a marked road on Lincoln Hill Road which leads to a large open field for parking but unfortunately is not plowed. At the end of Notch Lane, a well graded, wide dirt road, there is a largish plowed parking area shortly before the gate to the truck trail. It's not clear when/if the gate gets closed.
The Truck Trail goes for about 1.25 miles before it reaches Chestnut Hill Road, passing through the "notch" which gives the road its name. The road is well maintained and drivable in season. It generally has a gentle grade until right before Chestnut Hill Road where it becomes somewhat steeper.
Shortly after the south gate there is a steep rough path to the left which leads to the trails in the center of the park. This is marked with red snowmobile markers and is about 1.5 miles long before it reaches the state forest border and there's a sign indicating that the land beyond is private although there are no posted signs. A little over half a mile on this path there is an unmarked trail coming in sharply on the left as you enter a stand of red pines. There are several Y intersections leading west which appear to quickly leave State lands although there are no posted signs and the DEC map of the area seems to be inaccurate. One is an old road that goes through an old apple orchard before reaching Lincoln Hill Road and another less defined branch leads to a recently built camp. The Eastern part of the Northern loop comes in from the North at an angle as the trail makes a NW to SW turn but is easy to miss.
As you head North the trail becomes more defined once again and there are occasional DEC Horse Trail markers. There is one stream to cross but the trail is fairly dry otherwise. Shortly after the stream the trail makes a sharp left to head in a more southernly direction and this is actually one of the intersections with the Northern loop. There are a few faded paint blazes on the trees here but nothing that particularly looks like a trail for about 50 yards, then the impression of an old road becomes evident and a yellow horse trail marker can be found. Markers are infrequent but the road is fairly obvious until the top of the ridge although there is a lot of new growth in the trail. The high point of the ridge is covered with Hickory trees and a grassy ground cover. There is a bit of a view when the leaves are off the trees. Sporadic trail markers can be found just below the ridge. Eventually there will be a narrow berm to the East that runs along the edge of a marshy area which seems to mark the end of the Northern loop although topo maps indicate easy terrain to the North which might provide a connection to the Western trail system. There are a few markers skirting the marshy area indicating the Eastern branch of the loop (on the South side of the trees only) and then if you head down slope a little ways you will come across a fairly well defined but completely unmarked old road which brings you back to the connector trail to the Eastern portion of the trails.
Back on the main trail as you head South, a stone wall will eventually appear on the west and in one section a second stone wall 10-12 feet beyond that, perhaps edging a road long since overgrown. There is a brief side loop to the west that rejoins the trail to the south of a pair of what appear to be manmade earthern berms perhaps intended to block that section from vehicular traffic (currently prohibited anyway), and part of an A-Frame roof which appears to have been transported there. As you approach Lincoln Hill Road there are several stands of spruce and other conifers planted in orderly rows. There are several alleys through these stands to the east but they don't go very far or lead to anything interesting although you could bushwack down the slope to an inviting little stream.
5/11/2010 - The Eastern part of the trails have been cleared between the Lincoln Hill parking lot to the Notch Road. The western branch of the Northern loop has generally been cleared to the top of the ridge except for a few large blowndowns and new growth.
10/13/2010 - There's a clump of trees across the connector trail between the central and Eastern trails. The Lincoln Hill parking area and surrounding grassy sections have been mowed.
DEC State Lands Interactive Mapper