Dutchess County Highpoint Trip Report

Brace Mtn (2,313+ ft)

Date: May 20, 2007
Author: Andy Hatzos

[Editorís note: See the report from Litchfield, Connecticut for the start of this hike.]

The Mount Frissell Trail continues west from the Connecticut high point, roughly paralleling the CT/MA state line. The trail leads past a rocky, exposed region on Frissell's south slope. Eventually, it heads steeply downward into the col between Frissell and the western edge of the Taconic Range. Much like the eastern ascents of Round Mountain and Mount Frissell, this region is very steep and requires hands-on climbing to get the job done. Once at the bottom of this area, the steep portions of the hike are done. The rest of the trails to Brace Mountain are very gentle.

Shortly after the descent from Frissell, I reached the famous tri-state marker. As has been detailed in many other trip reports, "CONN" was scratched in later, while "MASS" and "N.Y." are actually engraved. The final side of the marker is engraved with the year 1898. The trail continues to the west, now along the NY/MA state line. There's an intersection just beyond the tri-state marker but the red blazes make it obvious that "straight ahead" is the way to go. Eventually, the trail reaches a small hill in a clearing. This is the end of the Mount Frissell trail, and also its intersection with the South Taconic Trail. There are signs here with clear directions on which way to go and distances are given as well.

The trail to Brace Mountain heads off to the south. It's blazed with white markers but they are hardly needed. This trail is wide, gentle, and very easy to hike. In just minutes, I reached the top of Brace, marked well by a very tall cairn that was swarming with small flying insects. There was also a new addition to the cairn that I had not seen in any photographs -- a wind sock! With the wind sock flying as a flag, the whole ensemble ended up strangely resembling the famous Iwo Jima flag-raising.

The rest of the summit is completely bare and the views in all directions are absolutely spectacular. South Brace is directly to the south and Frissell and Round are clearly visible to the northeast. In fact, I saw a small group of people navigating some of the exposed rocky ledges on the southern slope of Frissell. The views to the west, though, are the most impressive. In the foreground, over 1,500 feet down, is an area of farmland in a valley. Beyond a small ridge, the rest of the Hudson River Valley can be seen. To the southwest, the Shawagunk Mountains are visible. Far in the distance to the west, the Catskill Mountains were very faintly visible as well.

According to the signs at the trail intersections, the Mount Washington Trail is 2.2 miles long. The portion of the South Taconic Trail from the intersection to the top of Brace Mountain is 0.4 miles. As such, the entire trip is 2.6 miles, for a round trip of 5.2 miles. The entire journey took me just over three hours to complete.

report with links to photos