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 Sages Ravine (MA), CT high points - 7/16 & 7/17 
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Peak Bagger
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 Sages Ravine (MA), CT high points - 7/16 & 7/17
I hadn’t done a backpacking trip since last fall and it feels like the summer is already slipping away, so it was time to get out for an overnight trip. I considered going to NH, but I had wanted to check out Sages Ravine, along the Appalachian Trail in the southwestern corner of Massachusetts, and possibly hit the Connecticut high points too.
My plan was to hike the Race Brook Falls Trail to the ridge, then take the AT south to Sages Ravine and set up camp, then continue south into CT if time and energy permitted. A trail sign at the beginning of the Race Brook Falls Trail, and the beginning part of the trail:

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It’s about two miles up to the ridge, with a lot of nice sections, mostly along Race Brook:

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There are two waterfalls along the trail. Lower Falls is on a side path about 0.5 miles off the trail, and I skipped that one because I had a lot of miles in front of me and I wanted to get to the campsite. The trail passes right under Upper Falls, which unfortunately was underwhelming due to the dry weather this summer:

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Shortly after that, the trail passes through the Race Brook Falls Campsite, where a scout group was packing up after their night out. It looked like a nice place to camp, but is probably very popular because it’s so close to the road. The trail meets the AT about 0.2 mile further:

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I turned south on the AT and began the 1 mile climb to the summit of Mt. Race (2372’). This wasn’t a difficult climb and I made good time. Here’s the summit ridge, looking north with Mt Everett in the distance:

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It was very hot and hazy, but there are nice 360 degree views from the summit. I could see the Catskills in the distance to the west. There’s also an interesting pitch pine forest on the summit. Some of the pines are in the foreground and you can just make out the outline of Mt Greylock in the distance:

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I ate lunch here, and then continued south. The first half mile after the summit is a wonderful ridge walk along the eastern side of the mountain, with a steep drop and nice views into the Berkshire and Taconic farm country. Looking southeast towards the Twin Lakes area of CT:

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And looking northeast:

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After the ridge walk, the trail enters the woods for a long 3-plus mile descent into Sages Ravine. Along the way, I ran into an “AT Ridgerunner”. I didn’t know what an AT Ridgerunner was, but he told me he was monitoring that section of the trail and educating people about Leave No Trace principles and general trail stewardship. He also told me that the Sages Ravine campsite was filling up, so I hustled down the trail. I ran into a thru-hiker from St Louis at the beginning of the ravine and we chatted about the Red Sox – Cardinals World Series in recent years. Sages is a deep V-shaped ravine, with pretty brook scenery and nice small cascades:

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It’s about 0.75 miles long, with the campsite at the far end. It turns out I had nothing to worry about regarding a campsite, because there were a lot of open sites:

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I picked out a nice site and set up camp, leaving most of my weight there:

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I took a short rest, but then continued on my way. I had hiked about seven miles so far, but I had about seven more to go: continue into CT and hike Bear Mountain (the highest SUMMIT in CT, at 2316'), then cross Round Mountain on the way to Mt Frissell (where the highest POINT in CT is, at 2380'), then back over Round Mt and back to the campsite. The hike out of Sages Ravine is easy enough, but the climb up Bear Mt is steep. Some nice trail work by the CT chapter of the AMC:

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And then VERY steep:

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There’s a pitch pine forest on the summit of Bear Mt too, and a large rock monument, but there were several people sitting on it taking in the view so I didn’t take any pictures of it:

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Bear Mt has good east-facing views too, but I only stayed a few minutes, then went back down the way I had come up. I hiked this section with a thru-hiker from Georgia, who had gotten fed up with his job, so he quit to hike the AT instead (he instantly became my hero). We split up at the base of Bear Mt, when he continued north on the AT and I turned west on an unmarked trail called Northwest Road, which took me to a dirt road. I walked about 100 yards up the road, past a granite marker at the CT/MA state line, then turned west into the woods on the unmarked Mt Frissell Trail.

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I couldn’t find a resource like the White Mt Guide, so I had to read a lot of websites to figure out this route. And even then I wasn’t 100% sure I was on the right trail, but fortunately there was a group hiking out that confirmed that this was the Mt Frissell Trail (those were the only hikers I saw on this section). About 0.8 mile later, after a short but steep climb, I was on the summit of Round Mountain (2296’), looking over at Mt Frissell, which looked further away and steeper than I wanted it to be at this point:

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Nevertheless, I made it to the summit of Frissell (2543') about 20 minutes later, at 5:00. This summit is unremarkable, but it did have a chintzy yellow sign and a register, which I signed:

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I continued past the summit a few hundred yards to the CT high point (2380'), which is marked by a large cairn, a register (which I signed) and this interesting state line marker:

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Six high points down, 44 to go!

There’s apparently a marker at the 3-state intersection (MA/CT/NY), which is about 1500 feet further down the trail. I briefly entertained continuing, and I actually started down, but it was getting late and I knew I still had to climb back over Round Mt. And it was all downhill to the 3-state intersection, which meant that it was all uphill on the way back. I didn’t need the extra elevation gain at that point. Also, I wasn’t very impressed with Four Corners, where AZ, CO, UT, and NM meet, so I figured that the MA/CT/NY intersection would probably be even less impressive. So I didn't bother.

I was pretty wiped out by this point, but I made the descent off Frissel and then the short but steep climb up Round Mt (all of these mountains are short but steep), then about two miles back to the campsite. I rested for a few minutes, then made dinner. The skies had started looking ominous when I was on Round Mt, and by the time I had gotten back to the campsite, it has started thundering. Immediately after I finished dinner and put my food in the bear box, it started raining, so I went into the tent and called it a night.

The rain had stopped during the night, but it was very hot and humid again in the morning. I left about 7:30 and took a few more pictures of the ravine on the way out:

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Then I began the climb back up Mt Race. This one isn’t short and steep; it’s a three mile grind. Something like Tecumseh or Waumbek, though not as steep. But it’s really peaceful, it passes through some beautiful forest, and it really feels “out there”. This would be a great place to camp – widely spaced conifers, a scenic brook, and the east ridge of Mt Race just beyond, where the sunrise would be spectacular. In fact, this apparently used to be a campsite, but it has been closed for revegetation and the campsite has been relocated:

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I took a break shortly after the summit, where I ran into hiker Vitaly from Long Island, who was planning on hiking 25 miles on this hot day. And he told me that he had been up there three weeks prior, and mountain laurel was in bloom everywhere. I then noticed all the spent blooms; I’m sure it would be beautiful in June.

When I reached the intersection with the Race Brook Falls Trail, I briefly considered continuing north to Mt Everett (2602’) and then backtracking. I could see it looming in front of me, but I was feeling pretty beat at that point, and it might as well have been Mt Everest instead of Mt Everett. So I turned down the Race Brook Falls Trail instead. I did take the side path to Lower Falls this time, even though I didn’t expect much. Unfortunately it met my expectations, although it looks like it could be spectacular in the spring. It reminded me of Fletcher’s Cascade the first time I went there, when there was no water:

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Then back to the car, turn on the AC, buy an extra large lemonade, and head home.

I came away impressed by this area. OK, so the summit elevations begin with 2 instead of 4 or 5. The summits have good views, but not dramatic views like the Great Gulf or Crawford Notch. And the ridge walks, although nice, wouldn’t be confused with the Franconia Ridge. But the trails are really nice and not crowded, the forest is attractive, and it’s a great area for backpacking, with lots of back country campsites, all with tent platforms, bear boxes, and privies and all free as far as I could tell. In fact, almost everyone I saw on Saturday was backpacking. It’s hard to find distances and elevation gains for these trails, but I think my totals were: Saturday about 14 miles with 3500’ of gain; Sunday about 8 miles with 1000’ of gain.


Mon Jul 18, 2016 11:20 pm
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 Re: Sages Ravine (MA), CT high points - 7/16 & 7/17
My friend Greg and I did a chunk of this a couple springs ago and we too liked it very much. The views from the ledgy areas were excellent and Sage's ravine was a nice treat! Glad you enjoyed it as well! 8)

Brian


Tue Jul 19, 2016 6:22 am
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 Re: Sages Ravine (MA), CT high points - 7/16 & 7/17
What a cool little area to rack up some mileage and gain with a back country over night. Ledges, highpoints, pitch pines. Looks like your research paid off. It's doesn't have the grandeur of the high peaks, bit it has its nice charm. Quiet and pleasant. It's a hiking "vacation".


Tue Jul 19, 2016 6:39 am
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 Re: Sages Ravine (MA), CT high points - 7/16 & 7/17
Nice report. Although I live in Mass, I've never had any desire to hike out that way. But that does look like a nice hike. You'll have to explain this to me though.

hike Bear Mountain (the highest SUMMIT in CT, at 2316'), then cross Round Mountain on the way to Mt Frissell (where the highest POINT in CT is, at 2380')

What's the difference between the highest summit and the highest point? And wasn't the highest point the summit of Frissell?

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Tue Jul 19, 2016 7:20 am
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 Re: Sages Ravine (MA), CT high points - 7/16 & 7/17
I recall reading somewhere that the highest point in CT is on the shoulder of Mt Frissell, but that summit lies in MA.


Tue Jul 19, 2016 11:48 am
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 Re: Sages Ravine (MA), CT high points - 7/16 & 7/17
wp_hiker2 wrote:
I recall reading somewhere that the highest point in CT is on the shoulder of Mt Frissell, but that summit lies in MA.


It's all clear to me now. Looking at a map helped. :)

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Tue Jul 19, 2016 12:21 pm
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Peak Bagger
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 Re: Sages Ravine (MA), CT high points - 7/16 & 7/17
Yes, it's one of a few states where the high point is not actually on a summit. This map isn't very clear, but it shows the summit in MA (#1), and the high point at the state line partway down the south side of the mountain (#2):

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You cross the state line several times on this hike, but most of the crossings aren't marked.

Another interesting note is that the stone monument on top of Bear Mt has an engraved plaque saying that it's the highest point in CT. The monument was built many years ago, and I think when they built it, they thought the summit of Bear Mt was the highest point in the state.


Tue Jul 19, 2016 12:35 pm
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 Re: Sages Ravine (MA), CT high points - 7/16 & 7/17
I think one of the NHCoHP's is also on a slope rather than a summit but am not positive and it's too late to look it up. :D

Really nice looking terrain and scenery. I see nothing wrong with the summits starting with "2" instead of "4". That's a much better looking hike than about "24" of those "48" anyhow! I have wanted to get out there for a while but only ever thought of the area as a day hike destination. 22 miles with 4500 feet of elevation is day-hikeable, but the way you did it looks like it might be the way to go. Great report. Thanks for taking the time to post it.


Tue Jul 19, 2016 10:53 pm
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 Re: Sages Ravine (MA), CT high points - 7/16 & 7/17
Congratulations on finding the best hike in Massachusetts.
I've spent an insane amount of time in that area - I lOVE it as much as the timber rattlers do.

To clear up confusion, Bear Mountain is the highest SUMMIT in CT. The highest point in CT is, in fact, on the shoulder of Mt Frissell... literally a 15 minute walk from the summit. When I saw it, I thought that it would've been cool for MA to just let CT have that one...

Hiking a little further beyond the Tri-state marker where CT, NY, and MA meet up, you get to the Taconic ridge that also offers some great camping options... and amazing views over to the Catskills. Days and days worth of exploring to be had.

Glad you went; glad you enjoyed yourself; and glad you shared your trip

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Fri Jul 22, 2016 5:55 am
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 Re: Sages Ravine (MA), CT high points - 7/16 & 7/17
Looks like a fun trip! I've done Round, Frissell/Frissell So. Slope, the tri-point, and Brace Mtn. in that area, but if I go back, I want to do Bear Mountain and Mt. Everett. Also, not gonna lie, I kind of want to see a rattlesnake first-hand. Call me crazy, I know :lol:

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Fri Jul 22, 2016 6:23 pm
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 Re: Sages Ravine (MA), CT high points - 7/16 & 7/17
hiker0200 wrote:
Looks like a fun trip! I've done Round, Frissell/Frissell So. Slope, the tri-point, and Brace Mtn. in that area, but if I go back, I want to do Bear Mountain and Mt. Everett. Also, not gonna lie, I kind of want to see a rattlesnake first-hand. Call me crazy, I know :lol:



Go to the Poconos for that!


Fri Jul 22, 2016 8:43 pm
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 Re: Sages Ravine (MA), CT high points - 7/16 & 7/17
I wanted to see a rattlesnake too. The sign at the beginning of the trail mentions that there are timber rattlesnakes in the area, but I figured it was a lot of hype. But I was talking to a guy at Lower Falls, and he said he saw two the previous day. I did see two garter snakes, for what that's worth.


Sun Jul 24, 2016 10:26 am
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