Spring Hiking & Mountain Biking Meet a Unique Twist at the Millstone Trails
● By Melanie Heisinger
Spring hiking and
mountain biking meet a unique twist at the Millstone Trails, a network of
trails that wind their way through northern hardwood and coniferous forests and
along exposed granite spines, showcasing scenic vistas of the Green Mountains
from waste-granite piles, former quarries now filled with turquoise water, and
relics from the old quarrying days.
The town of Barre and the Rock of Ages quarry corporation have helped make the Millstone Trails possible. Overseen by the eponymous association, the trails open on May 1st or sooner if conditions are dry. The Millstone Trails are divided into three sections: the Barre Town Forest, Gnome Man’s Land, and the Canyonlands.
The Barre Town Forest is home to the greatest diversity of trails in the Millstone network, including the Mainline, VAST, Town Forest Parking, #6, Westside, Rail Road, and Grand Lookout trails. These are primary corridors through the western, northern, and eastern sections of the Town Forest. Mountain-biking beginners will find them to be Millstone’s easiest trails to ride, and they can be combined to form a number of enjoyable loops.
Gnome Man’s Land is home to Millstone Trails’ most challenging terrain. Many of these trails are built specifically for mountain biking, although all of them are viable hiking routes too. Recreationists are asked to use caution, as an active quarry road cuts through Gnome Man’s Land, which is accessed primarily by the Grand Lookout. It can also be reached from several locations along Websterville Road, including from the Barre Town Middle and Elementary School.
Canyonlands gets its name from the deep active and dormant quarries that flank its northern edge. Just a few years ago, these quarries were active and dry. Now, they are filled with crystal-clear turquoise water. Canyonlands is a bit more out of the way, but it is worth a visit for those seeking a quieter experience without missing Millstone’s spectacular scenery.