Vermont Trail Runners
Trail Run New Discovery State Park
The hot, sticky humidity broke as Jay, Matt and I carpooled up to New Discovery State Park to meet Steve in his lean-to for our Groton State Forest trail running adventure. Severe thunderstorms were passing to the south, bringing cooler air perfect for an evening run.
Steve was settled in Raven lean-to in the New Discovery campground. This quiet park is exquisitely maintained with spotless toilet buildings, neatly raked campsites and completely empty fireplaces. If you are looking for a quiet retreat in a beautiful forested setting, New Discovery is the campground for you. The greater Groton area is phenomenal for a variety of outdoor pursuits, and will be featured in additional blog entries by our crew. There is so much to explore.
We headed down Blake Hill Road a dirt road which conveniently starts at the gated end of the campground road where Raven is located, in campground loop B. A short way down Blake Hill Road, Big Deer Mountain trail turns off on the right...which we managed to run right past only to discover our error after a few more minutes of running. Oops! The Big Deer Mt. trail runs through a pine plantation and later a nice mixed hardwood stand. The forest is beautiful and quiet, you feel like you really are in the middle of a peaceful retreat, an undiscovered area. We passed some interesting relics of Civilian Conservation Corps work, which is scattered throughout the entire Groton State Forest. When I see a beautifully constructed fireplace out in the middle of the woods, I cannot help but ponder what this place was like when it was constructed, and what the plan for it was.
The trail stays pretty flat until around 1.1 miles, where there is a trail intersection and the trail rises steeply the last half mile to the summit of Big Deer Mountain. Views are fantastic from two rocky outcrops on the top. You can see Peacham Pond, Lake Groton, and Peacham Bog. It was overcast while we were there, but on clear days you should be able to see the White Mountains from the summit. There is also a very impressive boulder at the top, a large glacial erratic appearing to be dropped on its side by a receding glacier 10,271 years ago. There was a nice breeze on top, which was great for keeping away the pesky deer flies which were otherwise in full force during our run.
From Big Deer Mountain we dropped back down to the intersection, where we turned left on the other Big Deer Mt. Trail, this one leading to the Osmore Pond Trail. This trail crosses a wetland area, with a series of puncheons that were a little slippery, but easy to navigate and better than getting wet feet.This trail crosses a couple intersections; from there you could connect to Big Deer State Park and the nearby nature center located close to Lake Groton, a hub for many other trails. You could easily plan a really nice long trail run starting from the same place where we started (it would be a spectacular run too!). We also crossed the new power line trail, which is a new multi-use trail—it is wider and more even terrain than the hiking trails we ran on and is worth an exploration.
We reached the trail to Little Deer Mountain and decided to throw in another mountain. This was a quick half mile ascent with wonderful views of Lake Groton and the surrounding mountains. There are not many places in Vermont where you can stand at a scenic vista and not see very many signs of human beings.That combined with not seeing anyone else on the trails makes you feel like you really are out on a wilderness adventure.
From there we dropped back down to the Osmore Pond Trail, which runs along the boulder strewn shoreline of this remote pond. This pond hosts a pair of nesting loons and is a wonderful place to paddle around on. There are some beautiful remote campsites along the shore that would be worth paddling (or hiking) into with your camping gear. From there we ran back to Steve’s campsite where we enjoyed some Guinness (Brilliant!) provided by Matt (trying to redeem himself after bringing Budweiser on the last run), and watching Steve prepare his dinner. Reluctantly, Matt, Jay and I left to head home.
Driving home we watched an enormous crescent moon rise over the Green Mountains. Matt, who was the sage of the day captured what we were all feeling when he said, “It is always worth getting out the door.” Getting a few scratches on your shins, some mud on your feet, beautiful views of Vermont and some free pizza with good friends are the very best reasons to get out the door.