EXPERIENCING THE PRESERVE
Equinox Preserve Users Guide
Informational kiosks greet visitors at both entrances to the Preserve. An enlarged trail map is on display along with copies of the handy pocket guide & trail map, updated program information and special notices. “Mutt mitts” and disposal bins to assist dog owners with cleaning up after their pets are available here as well. A third kiosk is located near the trail connector at the rear of the Equinox Hotel parking area.
Access Points & Parking:
There are two main entry points to the Equinox Preserve lands.
The green entrance gate at the designated parking to the Red Gate Trail is the principal entrance. It can be accessed by driving west on West Union Street (just south of Burr & Burton Academy on Prospect Street in the Village), and turning right at the end of paved portion toward the Town’s water tank. The gate itself is a short distance below the Red Gate Trail. Please respect the neighbors and do not block the fire hydrant, traveled ways or driveways. Improperly parked vehicles will be towed.
The trail system can also be accessed from the Southern Vermont Arts Center, during business hours.
| Kiosk at the head of the Pond Loop Trail
Additional parking is available at the rear of the Equinox Hotel parking lot, where a kiosk marks the West Union Trail connecting path leading up to the intersection of Prospect Street and West Union Street. From here, hikers can proceed straight ahead on West Union Street to reach the Red Gate trail entrance.
Private land surrounds the Preserve and several maintained Preserve trails cross through privately owned acres. Only through individual landowner generosity are the EPT trails allowed to cross their lands. Please respect the rights of these landowners, do not litter, and stay on the marked trails. Limited vehicle use has been granted to some landowners to access their holdings as needed.
General Preserve Use Guidelines:
Leave No Trace - Please carry out everything you carry in.
Dogs must be under control at all times, and on leash on Pond Loop or when approaching other trail users. Reminder: Please clean up after your dog throughout the trail system. Clean-up bags available at the kiosks just inside the Preserve entrances.
Unauthorized motor vehicles are not allowed in the Preserve. Please note location of any ATV or motorbike spotted in the Preserve and report it the EPT Trails Steward at 366-1400 or to the hotel concierge at 362-4700. If possible, please inquire of the driver if he has special vehicle access permission before reporting any violations.
Collecting plants, animals or other natural material is strictly prohibited. To identify and enjoy the spring ephemeral wildflowers, download a copy of the spring wildflower guide here: http://www.equinoxpreservationtrust.org/blog/?attachment_id=682.
Camping, building campfires, swimming and boating are not permitted due to the sensitive nature of the varied Preserve habitats.
Fishing in the pond is by permission only, and is catch and release with barbless hooks. Please see Equinox Hotel concierge for permission.
Hunting is discouraged but may occur in the Preserve. Please take precautions.
BACKCOUNTRY SKIERS: The trail system serves as an entry into natural, backcountry ski terrain when conditions permit. Please do not ski alone. The trails are not patrolled. It is advisable to avoid steeper terrain under icy conditions.
SNOWSHOERS: Please stay to one side of all trails to allow for cross-country ski travel on the same terrain.
MOUNTAIN BIKERS & HORSEBACK RIDERS: Please avoid single-track trails. Snicket and Trout Lily are off-limits to bikes and horseback riders.
Detailed Trail Usage:
Hiking: All trails are open for pedestrian use. The Equinox Preservation Trust may close some trails temporarily for repairs or to protect them from damage during muddy conditions. The Equinox Resort and the holders of certain spring rights on the mountain have the right to construct, repair and maintain water wells and water lines, and may temporarily close a trail for such purposes.
Pond Access: Because portions of the Pond Loop Trail cross unconserved property, users should be advised to stay on the trail path. Access to Equinox Pond and the casting bank, as well as fishing or boating, is reserved for Resort guests or by permission of the Resort.
The Resort may close a portion of the Pond Loop Trail for a reasonable period of time during special events at the Pond Pavilion, if the Resort anticipates there may be a potential conflict between trail users and those attending a special event. During the trail closure, the Resort shall erect temporary signage at both ends of the closed trail segment, notifying trail users of the closure and when the trail will be re-opened for public use.
Skiing and Snowshoeing. During periods of adequate snow cover, most hiking trails are available for backcountry skiing and snowshoeing. Recommended ski trails are designated by a round, rectangular or diamond symbols on the map key, depending upon their degree of difficulty. The trails are not groomed for winter recreational activities nor are they patrolled. Snowshoers and walkers are urged to use the side of the trails when snowfall is sufficient to allow for skiing and snowshoeing.
Mountain Biking. Mountain bikers are welcome on many Equinox trails. Bikers are urged to look out for hikers and pass carefully. Mountain bikes are prohibited on Snicket, Trout Lily and Maidenhair Trails and on the Blue Trail above (west) of Trillium Trail. The Nature Conservancy will permit mountain biking on the Mountain Bluff Trail so long as it finds that no damage to the Deer Knoll Natural area is occurring. Off-trail riding is forbidden.
Equestrian. Because horse manure will sometimes contain seeds of exotic plant species, including the highly invasive garlic mustard, horse traffic is limited to the lower reaches of the mountain and confined to designated trails. The trails include Flatlander Pass, Pond Loop, the Red Gate Trail, and the lower portion of the Blue Trail where it overlaps with the Red Gate Trail. These trails shall be monitored annually to document and control any invasive or exotic species attributable to manure.
Motorized Vehicles. Public motorized recreation is prohibited from the Preserve. Motorized vehicles & equipment may be used for the construction, repair or maintenance of the springs, waterlines and trails and for ferrying Hotel guests to the Resort’s Pond Pavilion area. They may also be used for emergency or rescue purposes. In addition, the owners of certain private parcels have limited vehicular access through the Red Gate trail to their property.
Hunting. Hunting is permitted throughout the Equinox Preserve above 1,300 feet in both the VLT and TNC conserved lands. In fact, deer hunting can be beneficial to the ecological integrity of the natural communities on the mountain, since deer browse is a significant threat to the regeneration of native species. The Equinox Resort and Equinox Preservation Trust may post “No Hunting” or “Safety Zone” signs restricting hunting below 1,300 feet elevation.
Specially Conserved Lands
Deer Knoll and Table Rock are covered by a separate conservation easement held by The Nature Conservancy of Vermont. The purpose of that easement is to protect the special natural values of Deer Knoll and Table Rock, which had previously been impacted by public access through soil erosion, trampling of plants, clearing of vegetation to maintain views. In the mid-1990s, following the conveyance of the easement to TNC, several of the historical trails to these sites were closed, and an alternative lookout area (Robin’s Lookout) was created. With the passage of time and the decrease in public use, the two sites have begun to recover.
No trails currently exist in the Table Rock area, and no future trails will be permitted.
Public access to Deer Knoll is not encouraged and should be accessed by guided walks led by qualified professionals and approved by EPT and the Nature Conservancy.
Trail Descriptions and Allowed Uses
Note: The Southern Vermont Arts Center Trails, portions of the Trillium, Maidenhair, Mountain Bluff and Blue Trails traverse private lands. Trail users must stay on the trail corridor in these areas and respect the rights of these owners. If an opportunity arises, it is the objective of EPT management to encourage additional land preservation & permanent trail right-of-way in these areas, in order to maintain the continuity of the trail system and protect the ecological integrity of the mountain.
POND LOOP—1.2 km (0.75 mi.)—Easy loop through beautiful hardwoods around Equinox Pond on a level woods road. Allowed uses: hiking, cross-country skiing, snowshoeing, mountain biking, horseback riding, snowmobiling (owner supervised).
RED GATE TRAIL—1.3 km (0.80 mi.)—Cross over trail between the Red Gate and Equinox Pond Loop on rolling woods roads. Allowed uses: hiking, cross-country skiing, snowshoeing, mountain biking, horseback riding, snowmobiling (owner supervised).
TRILLIUM TRAIL—1 km (1.25 mi.)—A connector trail off the Pond Loop to the Southern Vermont Art Center Loop through gently winding woods roads Allowed uses: hiking, cross-country skiing, snowshoeing, mountain biking, snowmobiling (owner supervised).
SOUTHERN VERMONT ART CENTER LOOP,—3.6 km (1.00 mi.)—This trail follows rolling woods roads to the lands of the Southern Vermont Art Center. The trail contains a mini loop through attractive hardwoods. Allowed uses: hiking, cross-country skiing, snowshoeing, mountain biking.
| Maiden Hair Fern
MAIDENHAIR TRAIL—2.5 km (1.00 mi.)—Beginning from the Trillium Trail and crossing the Blue Trail, this trail follows a gently sloping woods road. The trail then crosses a ravine and goes up a steep slope. At this point, the trail descends eastward to join the trail network of the lower slopes. Allowed uses: hiking only.
WILD LEEKS CUT OFF—This short trail cuts across the Southern Vermont Art Center Loop. Allowed uses: hiking, cross-country skiing, snowshoeing, mountain biking.
SOUTHERN VERMONT ART CENTER TRAIL—0.3 km (0.2 mi.)—An intermediate trail off the Southern Vermont Art Center Loop. Allowed uses: hiking, cross-country skiing, snowshoeing, mountain biking.
MOUNTAIN BLUFF TRAIL—2.9 km (1.8 mi.)—With steep ascents and descents, this is a challenging trail. The trail travels up slope to an elevation of 1580 feet, then runs pleasantly along the contour by a series of woods roads before descending to the south and joining the Pond Loop. Allowed uses: hiking, cross-country skiing, snowshoeing, and mountain biking as permitted by The Nature Conservancy. Note: Except for the short trail segment below the junction with the Trillium Trail, skiing and mountain biking are permitted only in the counterclockwise direction. Do not ski the trail under icy conditions.
| The Snicket
THE SNICKET—(an English word for narrow, winding path)—0.5 km (.35 mi.)—a relatively flat, winding trail. The Snicket is a lovely walk or ski through mature forests that were farm fields a century ago. Look for the stonewalls—evidence of a time when the land was cleared for farming. Allowed uses: hiking, cross-country skiing, snowshoeing.
ASPEN TRAIL—.13 km (.10 mi.)—Shortcut connecting the Trillium Trail with the Red Gate Trail through a disturbed area that will someday mature into a magnificent stand of Aspen. Allowed uses: hiking, cross-country skiing, snowshoeing, mountain biking.
FLATLANDERS PASS—0.8 km (0.5 mi.)—a wide, flat and easy trail that hugs the 1200’ contour line from the Red Gate to the Black Gate. Allowed uses: hiking, cross-country skiing, snowshoeing, mountain biking, horseback riding, snowmobiling (owner supervised).
ROBIN’S LOOKOUT—0.4 km (0.30 mi.)—blazed green and black —A steep, but brief climb leads to Robin’s Lookout, a perfect picnicking spot. From here, there are spectacular views of Equinox Pond, the Battenkill Valley and the Green Mountains to the east. Allowed uses: hiking only.
TROUT LILY TRAIL—1 km (0.62 mi.)—blazed purple and white—The trail begins on a gently winding woods road. After the Bower Spring, the trail narrows to a foot path and ascends steeply with quick hairpin turns through lovely hardwoods to meet the Mountain Bluff Trail. Allowed uses: hiking only.
BLUE SUMMIT TRAIL—4.5 km (3.1 mi.)—(commonly known as The Burr and Burton Trail—blazed blue)—From the Red Gate, this trail ascends for a long distance on a rather steep woods road to the Upper Spring, then becomes a narrow hiking trail, ascending steadily through high elevation forests, and eventually reaching the Red/Yellow trail which leads to Lookout Rock. From Lookout Rock, there are excellent northerly and easterly views of the Manchester Valley, White Mountains, Mount Ascutney and Mount Monadnock. Allowed uses: hiking on the entire trail, plus cross-country skiing, snowshoeing, and mountain biking BELOW THE TRILLIUM TRAIL ONLY. Horseback riding is permitted only up to the point where the Red Gate trail departs to the left (south).
Liability. The State of Vermont has long maintained a policy to encourage private landowners to keep their land open to the public for hiking, hunting and other forms of recreational use. As such, State laws severely limit the liability of landowners to people who may be injured by recreating on their land. While landowners are required to keep their lands reasonably safe for their business guests, non-paying recreational users take the land as they find it. Unless the landowner has intentionally injured the recreational user or is found to be grossly negligent, the landowner is not liable for injuries to a non-business guest, even though the recreational user may be on the land with the landowner’s permission of the landowner.