Litchfield County Highpoint Trip Report

on north county line 600 feet south of Mount Frissell (2,372+ ft)

Date: May 20, 2007
Author: Andy Hatzos

Well, this was a bit of a change-of-pace from the relatively easy Michigan COHPs I'm used to! My hike -- which involved summiting three mountains -- far surpassed all of my other COHPs combined in terms of both horizontal distance and elevation gain. In addition, Litchfield County's high point is also Connecticut's state high point -- my second, after New Hampshire.

The point in question is located on the south slope of Massachusetts' Mount Frissell, where the state line intersects the mountain's main north-south axis. I chose to approach this region from the Connecticut side, coming in from the town of Salisbury. Near a crossing over a creek is a road signed as Factory/Washinee. This road heads toward the northwest and joins up with Mount Riga Road. Soon, the pavement gives way to dirt and, while the remainder of the drive was manageable, it was not pleasant. After a few miles, Mount Washington Road turns right and heads due north. This intersection is near South Pond, which offers some nice scenery. The road passes a few pull-offs but the desired Appalachian Mountain Club (AMC) parking lot is very obvious on the east side of the road. Throughout this entire section of road -- from Salisbury to the parking lot -- it's very important to watch the road signs and make sure to be on the correct bend.

The Mount Frissell Trail begins just north of the parking lot, across the road from the MA/CT boundary marker. The trail heads into the woods and soon reaches a split. The trail to the left (back into Connecticut) is blazed with red marks; this is the way to go. The trail is rocky and narrow but the slope is gentle at first. That all changes near the base of Round Mountain, where the rest of the climb becomes very steep. Using hands for balance was a necessity, as the rough trail goes over boulders, around trees, and along rocky ledges that switchback up the mountain. Once at the top, the views are impressive. There is some vegetation that gets in the way but, depending on where I stood near the top of the mountain, I could see fairly clearly in all directions. My eventual endpoint, Brace Mountain, is the northernmost of two bumps to the west. Brace's large rock cairn is easily visible, even all the way from Round Mountain!

The next goal -- Mount Frissell -- is the obvious mountain to the northwest and looks a lot further away than it actually is. At the top of Round Mountain, it's easy to lose the trail. I had to pay close attention to the red markings on the rocks, which often depict turns in the path that need to be made. The descent from Round Mountain is pretty easy but the ascent up Mount Frissell is not. It's not quite as bad as the ascent up Round but again there are a few spots a novice may find dangerous. Just north of where the trail reaches the summit is a metal box holding the register. I signed it on the way back down. The book, which is rather large, only went back to 2005. It's obvious that this is a frequently-climbed mountain.

While Frissell is covered well by trees at the top, the ledges along the mountain's slopes offer some fantastic views. This became quite evident as I headed south, toward Connecticut's highest point. Here, the trail actually gains a bit of exposure, with 300-foot drop-offs to the south and east. As the trail winds its way gently downward, rounding the edge of the mountain, the rock cairn marking the goal becomes very obvious. Right next to the cairn is the famous green peg -- no more than four inches tall -- and the small disc marking the state boundary. These are found on the upslope side of the traiI. Despite the fact that this point is a liner, the views from here are really quite nice. If I were the state of Connecticut, I would not be embarrassed at all to have this as the state high point.

From here, my hike continued to the west to the highpoint of Dutchess County, NY [see report].

report with links to photos