Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Taconic State Park, NY and Mt. Washington State Forest, MA: Alander Mountain to Brace Mountain

Taconic State Park, NY - New York State Office of Parks and Recreation
Mt. Washington State Forest, MA - Massachusetts DCR
Alander Mountain - Wikipedia
Brace Mountain - Wikipedia
Paragliding and Hang Gliding on Brace Mountain - Mount Brace Outdoor Club

This is a two car shuttle hike - see notes at bottom***

Leave car #1 at end of hike:
GPS Coordinates for Alander Brook Trail Parking: 42.065784, -73.515586

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Note that the trailhead is not at this parking lot - it is a short distance west around the bend of Undermountain Road on the right.  Although there is space, there are no parking signs at the trailhead.
Signs at the trailhead.

Drive car #2 to the beginning of the hike:
GPS Coordinates for Taconic State Park parking lot: 42.117150, -73.507789

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Pick up the South Taconic Trail to the right of the porta-potties in the parking lot.

Mt. Washington State Forest Trail Map - Massachusetts DCR (does not show entire hike)
South Taconic Trails - NY/NJ Trail Conference (does not show car #1 parking)
South Taconic Range Map - Berkshire Natural Resources Council, Inc.

HIKE DISTANCE:  11.2 miles

Alander Mountain
Brace Mountain

Starting along the path leaving the parking lot to the left of the porta-potties, you will soon see the white blazes of the South Taconic Trail.  Follow to the left towards Bash Bish Brook.  At the T-intersection just before Bash Bish Brook, turn left on the gravel road and proceed over a bridge towards cabins.
The gravel road bridge as seen from the parking lot.
Just before the cabins, the South Taconic Trail enters the woods to the right on a footpath.
The trail ascends steeply but with no rock scrambles.  In just a little over a mile, a short blue-blazed side trail to the left leads to a view:
Click twice to enlarge.
In another .15 mile, arrive at an intersection with a blue-blazed trail, noted as "SIDE TRAIL" on the sign below.  This trail leads to Bash Bish Falls.  We had intended to park car #2 in the Bash Bish Falls parking lot and begin the hike there but were unable to locate the trailhead for this blue-blazed trail.  A hiker we ran into later told us it starts beyond the metal gate to the left of the parking lot - the only place we hadn't looked.
Be sure to turn around at the 3.1 mile point for a view to the north.  On a clear day you should be able to see Mount Greylock, the highest mountain in Massachusetts.
Mt. Greylock in the far center.
In another 10th of a mile, views to the west:

A little farther along arrive at the top of Alander Mountain with great views.
Old fire tower footings at the top of Alander Mountain; Brace Mountain to the left.
Click twice to enlarge.
At 5.1 miles, make note of the red-blazed Robert Brook Trail which goes to the right.  From this point it will be an out-and-back to Brace Mountain as the Robert Brook Trail leads to where car #1 is parked. 

At 6.3 miles the trail splits.  The forks merge back together a short distance ahead but the right fork will bring you to a view.  Be careful when the forks merge back together because a blue-blazed trail also comes in at this point and the blazes are not very obvious. Be sure to stay on the white-blazed trail, coming from the view you would turn right.
You might see paragliders just before reaching Brace Mountain.

 You will catch a glimpse of Mount Brace soon and it looks like a steep climb but amazingly, it is not.  It is actually a very easy .4 mile to the summit and you are there before you know it.
Brace Mountain summit from less than 1/2 mile away.
Brace Mountain Summit
Views from Brace Mountain:
The Hudson Valley and Catskills
Head back the way you came on the South Taconic Trail turning left on the red-blazed Robert Brook Trail.
Pass two different NY/MA state boundary markers.
The Robert Brook Trail descends through pretty forests with a ravine to the left.

[  0.00]  Pick up white-blazed South Taconic Trail to the right of the porta-potties
[  1.10]  Left on blue side trail to view; retrace
[  1.20]  Continue left on white South Taconic Trail after returning from view
[  1.35]  Stay on white trail when blue-blazed trail goes left
[  3.10]  Turn around for view to the north
[  3.20]  View to the west
[  3.40]  Continue on white-blazed South Taconic Trail at intersection where trails to left go to park headquarters at the top of Alander Mountain
[  4.65]  Keep straight on South Taconic Trail when blue-blazed Alander Loop Trail comes in from the left
[  5.10]  Keep straight on South Taconic Trail when red-blazed Robert Brook Trail goes right
[  6.30]  When trail splits, take the right fork to a view; come out at an intersection with a blue-blazed; keep right on the white-blazed South Taconic Trail
[  7.40]  Summit of Brace Mountain; retrace heading north on South Taconic Trail
[  8.40]  Keep straight when blue-blazed trail goes right
[  9.70]  Turn left on the red-blazed Robert Brook Trail
[  9.90]  Two state line markers
[ 11.05]  At T-intersection Robert Brook Trail ends, turn left on blue-blazed Alander Brook Trail
[ 11.10]  Turn left on paved Undermountain Road and follow around sharp curve
[ 11.20]  Parking area on left

***We had intended to park car #1 at the southern trailhead of the South Taconic Trail here:

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Although I am confident we had the correct spot (across from a house, near the quarry, gravel pullout for parking) we could not find the trail going into the woods, only private property signs and a sign that the land is for sale.  It seems as though the southern trailhead no longer exists so we left the car at the Alander Brook Trail parking area and hiked out and back to Brace Mountain instead of straight through. 


  1. looks like a beautiful day! i'm curious if you had views of Bear Mtn or Race Mtn from anywhere?

    love your site, have done quite a few variations of your hikes since stumbling on the site a month or so ago. the pics, maps, summaries and just overall attention to detail is extremely helpful and greatly appreciated!

  2. Thanks, xbeansx! Glad the info is helpful.

    I am really bad at identifying mountains from a distance but I think I picked out a few. From Brace Mountain you can clearly see Frissell since it is the closest and Alander to the north. I remember seeing Everett and Race, I think from Alander. I wasn't looking for Bear Mountain but I think if you go just a little farther south on the South Taconic Trail from the Brace Mountain summit you get a clear view in that direction into Connecticut.


  3. This looks amazing, cant wait to get there!! How far was the hike altogether? Would love to do this with the kids but me thinks it could be a bit much?!!

  4. The hike was 11.2 miles. You can do shorter hikes. If it is Mount Brace you want to get to, you can park at the MA/CT state line as in this hike, take the Mount Frissell Trail to the end, turn left on the South Taconic Trail .4 mile to Mount Brace then go back the same way for about a 5 mile hike.