Monday, August 24, 2015

Green Mountain National Forest: Little Pond Trail (Blog Hike #539)

Trail: Little Pond Trail
Hike Location: Green Mountain National Forest
Geographic Location: east of Bennington, VT
Length: 5 miles
Difficulty: 3/10 (Easy/Moderate)
Last Hiked: August 2015
Overview: An out-and-back, mostly on jeep road, to secluded Little Pond.

Directions to the trailhead: The Little Pond trailhead is located on the north side of SR 9 9.2 miles east of Bennington, VT.  National forest signs for “Little Pond” mark the parking area.  Park in the gravel parking area, taking care not to block the gravel forest road that leaves SR 9 at this site.

The hike: Often overlooked in favor of its larger counterparts (such as Stratton Pond some 8 miles to the northeast), 23-acre Little Pond lies in the southern part of Vermont’s Green Mountain National Forest.  The pond is located on the edge of the national forest’s Glastenbury Wilderness.  The area’s wilderness status protects the pond from development and overuse, and it also ensures that access to the scenic and tranquil pond is only by foot travel.
            Another reason Little Pond sees few visitors is because most of the 2.5 mile hike required to get there uses a two-track jeep road.  Thus, while the pond makes for a scenic destination, the hike to get there is rather uninspiring.  Truth be told, I originally planned to hike to Stratton Pond until I decided I wanted an easier day of hiking after the rough time I had in the White Mountains the previous day.  When I got done, I was happy with my decision to hike to Little Pond.
Forest Road leaves SR 9
            The hike starts at the east side of the parking area where the road that serves as the trail enters the woods.  The road had recently been re-graveled on my visit, and it also doubles as the driveway for some private residences.  Some maps call this road Forest Road 275, but nothing on the ground identifies it as such.
            Several private driveways exit either direction, but they are all labeled as private.  Thus, one way to stay on the right path is to choose the only route that is not designated as private.  As you approach the last of the private residences, you need to angle left to start a rougher two-track dirt road.  At 0.4 miles, you top a small hill and reach a power line easement that doubles as a snowmobile trail in the winter.  Nice views of Haystack Mountain and Mount Snow open up to the east across the power line clearing.
View east across power line clearing
            The trail continues its gradual ascent as it pushes further north and alternates between sunny field and shady forest.  A couple of old stone walls beside the trail remind you that all of this land has been farmed and logged in the past.  A few mudholes large enough to contain frogs need to be negotiated, but overall the jeep road makes the going quite easy.  Also, almost all of this hike lies between 2400 and 2800 feet in elevation, while Bennington sits at less than 800 feet above sea level.  Thus, the temperature will generally be a few degrees cooler on this trail than down in Bennington.
Hiking the jeep road
            Just over 2 miles into the hike, you pass some yellow reflective signs that remind you that this jeep road doubles as a snowmobile trail in the winter.  At 2.2 miles, the jeep road curves sharply right.  Though no signs indicate such, the trail going left here past three large rocks is the final segment to Little Pond.  Thus, you need to angle left and walk between the rocks, which are strategically placed to block vehicles and snowmobiles.
Starting the final segment
            The final 0.3 miles to Little Pond follows a single-track dirt trail that enters the Glastenbury Wilderness.  In accordance with its wilderness status, the trail is unblazed and unsigned.  A brief moderate descent brings you to an established campsite on the west bank of Little Pond.  The pond was an amazingly peaceful and quiet place on my visit.  I did not get lucky enough to see any moose, but I saw a few common songbirds including sparrows, cardinals, and robins.  In spite of the somewhat ugly trail required to get here, Little Pond is a fantastic destination.
West corner of Little Pond

Little Pond
            After some rest, snacks, and pond admiration, there is only one way out: the way you came in.  Thus, you now need to turn around and retrace your steps 2.5 miles mostly on jeep road to return to your car and complete the hike.


2 comments:

  1. Many thanks for your efforts toward documenting hiking trails. Heading to Woodford State Park next weekend and will check this one out! DB

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    Replies
    1. Thank you, and you're welcome. I hope you enjoy your visit to Little Pond. It's a nice destination, but it's too bad you have to hike such an uninspiring trail to get there.

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