View from Barr Hill in September
Barr Hill View from Barr Hill in September © Eve Frankel

Places We Protect

Barr Hill Natural Area

Vermont

A short nature trail leads to top-of-the-world views and one of Vermont’s prettiest picnic spots.

Barr Hill is the highest point in Greensboro. From the open field at the trailhead there is a stunning, nearly panoramic view that sweeps from Spruce and Signal Mountains at Groton State Park to the southern Green Mountains, Woodbury Mountain, Camel’s Hump, Elmore Mountain and Mount Mansfield.

What the Conservancy is Doing

Barr Hill Preserve is owned and managed by The Nature Conservancy of Vermont. The Philip Gray family donated this land, which was immortalized in Wallace Stegner’s book Crossing to Safety, to the Conservancy in 1972. Every spring, volunteers maintain the trail.

There is a self-guided, 1/3-mile or 4/5-mile trail loop on the preserve. Both are easy hikes, ideal for children. 

From a spur trail, there is a magnificent view of Caspian Lake, which appears suspended in mid-air. Further along the loop there are views to the northwest of Belvidere Mountain and Jay Peak.

The trail traverses fern glades and a ledge outcropping once ground down by glaciers and passes through dark, coniferous woods where you’ll find beds of sphagnum moss so thick it’s tempting to stretch out and take a nap. Barr Hill is also an excellent place for bird watching. If you have binoculars you may see hawks and northern ravens from the trail lookouts.

Stone fire rings are available for picnickers. In winter, ski trails from the Highland Lodge in Greensboro cross the preserve. A nature trail brochure is available at the trail sign-in box.

What to See: Plants

A forest of northern white cedars, white spruce, red spruce and balsam fir covers the summit. There are also deciduous trees here—sugar maples, red maples, yellow birch and American beech. Along the trail you’ll find six species of Lycopodium or club moss.

What to See: Animals

Cape May warblers nest here in the spring and summer. Boreal chickadees live in the conifers year round. Some of the mammals you’re most likely to see are the eastern chipmunk, red squirrel, and snowshoe hare. If you're lucky, you may also happen upon the pygmy shrew, one of the world’s smallest mammals.