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Places We Protect

Black Mountain Natural Area

Vermont

Misty woods with trees, moss and lichens.
Black Mountain Black Mountain Natural Area in Dummerston, Vermont © Rae Bronenkant/AmeriCorps

Mountain laurel, scarlet tanagers and ancient granite are among Black Mountain's treasures.

Overview

Description

Notice

Black Mountain is experiencing extremely high use, imperiling public access, wildlife populations and sensitive habitat. Please consider using Trail Finder to identify other nearby trails and visit them instead. If the parking lot is full when you arrive, choose another trail to visit. Be considerate of your fellow trail enthusiasts - pass at safe distances, wear masks, and move on from viewpoints if others are waiting.  As always, leave your dogs at home to protect the unique wildlife here.

Overview

Black Mountain rises abruptly from the West River in Dummerston to a horseshoe ridge with a summit of 1,280 feet. The mountain originated as a mass of molten rock deep beneath the surface of the earth between 345 and 395 million years ago. Erosion has exposed the granite that forms the core of the mountain.

From the preserve's trailhead, the path up Black Mountain climbs for more than a quarter mile in a very clearly defined stair-like pattern over a set of ancient floodplain terraces. Some of the terraces represent the shore of ancient Lake Hitchcock, the great glacial lake that ran much of the length of the Connecticut and West Rivers at the end of the ice age. From the top of the mountain, there are views as far as New Hampshire's Mount Monadnock and into the river valleys.

Why TNC Selected This Site

The complex of dry ridge-top communities on Black Mountain’s rugged granite contours is exemplary for the region.

What TNC is Doing

The Nature Conservancy has been working for decades to protect Black Mountain and its surrounding landscape. Recently, we have focused on public experience on the natural area, improving the trail system and points of access.

Access

OPEN TO THE PUBLIC

Please note: dogs are not allowed at this natural area.

Highlights

Rare plant species, ravens, turkey vultures, and deer

Size

952 acres

Explore our work in Vermont

There is a 3-mile trail network here that provides hikers the option to loop back to their starting point from either of the trailheads on Rice Farm Road. Regardless of the starting point, the ascent to the summit is a steep and difficult climb. Remember to bring lots of water and take breaks as necessary.

Please read our Preserve Visitation Guidelines.

Hikers can now track their position while exploring our trails using the Avenza Maps app on their smartphones. To learn how to record your route, drop placemarks, and more using the Avenza Maps app, please see our Avenza How-to Guide and download the natural area's trail map

What to See: Plants

The lower slopes of the mountain are covered by pine, hemlock, and hardwood forests. As you hike up the mountain the dominant tree species change with the geology, elevation, and soil moisture of the site. Near the top you’ll come across a 70-acre pitch pine-oak- heath rocky summit woodland community normally associated with the sandy areas of New England’s coastal plains. There is also a 100-acre red pine community clearly visible from the village of West Dummerston. A large population of mountain laurel produces a magnificent display of showy pink flowers in June.

Four plant species found at Black Mountain are very rare in the state of Vermont including pitch pine and scrub oak trees, which are at the northern end of their range here. Black Mountain’s high plant diversity is due in part to the horseshoe shape of the mountain, which creates a water collecting bowl that produces ideal conditions for moist forests, streams, and wetlands different from the drier portions of the mountain.

What to See: Animals

Ravens, turkey vultures, and deer are commonly seen on Black Mountain. If you look closely you’ll find coyote tracks and bear scat. Moose have even made it this far south.