animal tracks

The Secret is in the Bedrock

The northern hardwood forests are perhaps the most significant forest community on Mt. Equinox. This rich mix of forest may well be the largest and best example of its type in New England, attributable to both its typography and geology and the large tract undisturbed by roadways or human development.

Ferns and wildflowers flourish here. There is an abundance of early spring wildflowers known as spring ephemerals, and naturalists have cataloged a number of rare and unusual species throughout the Preserve.  Its slopes gush forth thousands of gallons of water each minute which feed rivers and supply drinking water below.

t is the bedrock and topography of Mount Equinox that make it so special. The Taconic Mountains have a curious origin – marble and limestone that originated in a warm shallow sea is covered by shale and slate that originated very far away as deep sea mud.

The mudstone was pushed up on top of the marble and limestone by the great force of moving continents, and it remains today as a hard cap on top of the Taconics, protecting the soft marble from erosion. Because of this protective cap, we see marble and limestone at unusually high elevations on Mount Equinox and surrounding mountains. It is that high-elevation marble that makes this place unique.

Marble weathers easily. Water moving through it can quickly create crevices and cracks that over time become caves and caverns. Underground streams are abundant, popping out at the surface as springs and seeps.

Marble also contains an abundance of plant nutrients, so the slopes of Mount Equinox are extraordinarily rich. The constantly weathering bedrock creates a steady source of nutrients, and gravity moves those nutrients down slope, creating a rich compost-like soil that is ideal for plants. Here we find a Rich Fen, Rich Northern Hardwood Forest, Calcareous Outcrops, and many rare and unusual plants.

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