animal tracks

Threats to the Ecological Integrity of Mount Equinox

  Because of the unusual and sensitive nature of the Mount Equinox lands, there are many potential threats to its ecological features. Any human activity on these lands, including trail construction and use, must be handled with great care. There are five primary threats at present (though others may appear with time):

Morrow’s honeysuckles

Non-native Invasive Plants & Animals

Non-native invasive plants (NNIP) are one of the most significant threats to the Mount Equinox system. Since 2008 the Equinox Preservation Trust has worked diligently to manage the populations of these plants with a strategy involving a variety of management tools.

These NNIP species include Tartarian and Morrow’s honeysuckles, garlic mustard, purple loosestrife, common and glossy buckthorn, common and Japanese barberry, burning bush, Asiatic bittersweet, multiflora rose.

The ecological threats from these species are numerous.  A great resource for NNIP identification and management is the Vermont Invasives website.

The Preserve is continually monitored by the Forest and Trails Steward for NNIP species as well as invasive insects. If any are discovered, a separate control and eradication plan is implemented.

Soil Erosion and Compaction

Soil Erosion & Compaction

Soil texture and fertility are key components of the natural communities on Mount Equinox. Soil compaction through human activity can change the soil so dramatically that native species are unable to survive. Mountain bikes and horses are therefore limited to certain trails where such compaction has already taken place.

Trampling & Taking

Trampling & Taking

The Calcareous Outcrop communities are particularly vulnerable to direct trampling of rare plants by hikers. These areas are therefore managed to reduce use to a sustainable level. Rare plants have occasionally been over-collected by zealous botanists and gardeners seeking unusual specimens.


Hydrological Changes

Water is a key component of the Mount Equinox system, and changes in the flow or quality of the water moving down the mountain could have deleterious effects, especially on the Rich Fen and Equinox Pond. The Rich Northern Hardwood forest could also be threatened by improperly maintained trails if they change the flow of water down the mountain. Flow change could deprive some areas of the nutrients that arrive through downslope movement of water and organic material.



The browsing of native vegetation by deer is a major concern in the forests of this region, therefore hunting is allowed on the holdings above 1,300 feet. The threat of herbivory is linked to the threat of invasive plant species. Deer avoid eating many invasive plants and will preferentially browse native plants if both natives and invasives are present. High levels of deer herbivory can create a feedback loop where invasive species spread more rapidly and dominate areas more completely than they would under low levels of herbivory.

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. 

An enlarged trail map is on display along with copies of the handy pocket guide & trail map, updated program information and special notices.

Informational kiosks greet visitors at both entrances to the Preserve. A third kiosk is located near the trail connector at the rear of the Equinox Hotel parking area.

Naturalists have long held Mt. Equinox in high esteem for its beauty and natural diversity, a valued source of study by botanists and ecologists since the late 1800s.

A variety of mammals populate the slopes of Mt. Equinox, protected by the thick natural cover and food sources that the forest provides.

animal tracks