The Hogback Mountain Conservation Area consists of acreage on both sides of Route 9. On the south side, it includes the former Hogback Ski Area. There's more up and down in the trail system at Hogback on the south side of Route 9 than there is on the north side. It was a ski area, after all! The Tower Trail is the former access road used to supply the top of the ski area, so it is wide and the pitches are moderate in all but a few spots. The trail passes by old lift towers and operator shacks and features views from the recently cleared former ski slopes on its way to the summit of Mount Olga. The actual summit is just a few hundred feet over the border into Molly Stark State Park, where a fire tower graces the summit. The climb up the tower is not for the faint of heart. The enclosure at the top provides a secure spot from which to admire the 360-degree view.
The Bishop Trail leads from the Tower Trail to the lowest spot in the conservation area, the trailhead on Grant Road, where there is a fine cellar hole and other stonework, the last traces of the Bishop family farm. The Rim Run trail leads from the Grant Road trailhead back up the mountain to the main parking lot, passing a Quonset Hut that served as the base lodge for the ski area. Rim Run is used by a VAST snowmobile club in winter, but snowshoers, skiers, mountain bikers, and walkers are allowed to use the trail as well.
All trails are multi-use, so be prepared to see bikes if you are hiking, and skiers and snowboarders if you are snowshoeing. Note that we do not groom (pack and track) the trails in winter. It's strictly do-it-yourself skiing on the mountain. Snowmobiles are permitted on the designated VAST trails. Snowmobilers, you are very welcome on the VAST trails, but please do not take your machines off-trail or onto non-VAST trails.
In 2013, HMCA began a 10-year project to reopen five of the overgrown ski slopes, one every two years. The primary goal of this work is to reset the clock on forest regeneration, letting the cleared slopes resprout new woody growth to create a suite of young forest patches, also known as early successional habitat (ESH). This type of habitat has become extremely scarce in New England, causing population declines in species that need dense young thickets to reproduce and raise their young. A side benefit of this program is that for hikers crossing the ESH patches, the views are tremendous. And for the first year or two after the slopes have been cut, the backcountry skiing is also tremendous. We'll be keeping narrow lines open on these slopes as they regrow, so that humans can tour the ESH areas and observe the signs of wildlife. The clearing work is done in the fall, almost entirely by volunteers. If you'd like to help us with this project, learn more by going to our webpage http://www.hogbackvt.org/ and selecting the ESH tab.
The Hogback Mountain Conservation Area is owned by the town of Marlboro, Vermont. The town's Hogback Preservation Commission establishes policy and management plans for the area, for approval by the Select Board. The non-governmental non-profit Hogback Mountain Conservation Association (HMCA) is a group of volunteers who help the town implement the adopted plans and policies. HMCA maintains the trails, produces the trail maps, and organizes guided hikes and other activities.
Hogback is located on Route 9 about 15 miles west of Brattleboro and 25 miles east of Bennington. There are no signs. You know you've arrived when you round the corner and see the amazing 100-mile view to the south open up before you. Park in the big parking lot on the north side of the highway just west of the gift shop. Be careful crossing back to the south side! The trail begins in the field behind the white A-frame building. There is a kiosk about a hundred feet beyond the building. Occasionally in winter the big parking lot isn't plowed. In that case, park in the gift shop parking area on the south side of the highway, but be sure you don't block any driveways or mail delivery access. The conservation area has land on both sides of the highway, but the strip right along the highway, on both sides, is privately owned.
There is a second trailhead on Grant Road on the southern edge of the conservation area. There is parking available for two cars. These parking spots are not plowed in winter.
Success! A new password has been emailed to you.