Black Mountain Natural Area

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

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.


1,009 acres

Why the Conservancy Selected This Site

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

What the Conservancy is Doing

The Nature Conservancy recently purchased an additional 2 parcels totalling 251 acres on the mountain, nearly doubling the amount of protected lands here to 593 acres.

There is a trail here with access from Rice Farm Road. The ascent to the summit is a difficult, 1.5-mile climb. Please read our Preserve Visitation Guidelines.

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.


1112 Rice Farm Road, Dummerston, VT

From 1-91, get off at Exit 4 to Putney. Take a left off the exit ramp and go south 2.4 miles on Route 5 and turn right on the East West Road. Continue through East Dummerston and Dummerston Center for 4.5 miles and turn left onto Quarry Road (unpaved), just before the covered bridge over the West River. Go south on Quarry Road. At 1.4 miles the road becomes Rice Farm Road at an out-of-service, green steel bridge across the West River. From here keep going 0.5 mile to the Conservancy’s parking area and trailhead on the left. The trail is marked with a sign.

From Brattleboro, travel north on Route 30 about 6.6 miles to East West Road and take a right onto this road to cross the West River at the covered bridge. Just across the river, take a right onto Quarry Road and travel south on it, following the directions above from Quarry Road.


Have you been to this preserve? Are you thinking of visiting? See what others are saying about their experiences and add your comments below.

Add Your Comments

Time for you to join the discussion. Tell us about your experience at this preserve. What plants and animals did you see? When did you go? You can help others plan their visit when you share your thoughts. And thank you for visiting one of our nature preserves!

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