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Brace Mountain sits atop the Taconic Plateau in New York right next to the borders of Connecticut, Massachusetts, and New York. The peak of Brace is somewhat flattened out and treeless so it makes for relaxing views where you can find a soft spot to sprawl out on and take in the beauty of nature. You'll need the rest as the hike to Brace will get your blood pumping for sure. From Brace there is a great scene to the west. Brace hangs high over the farmland and neighborhoods dotting the valley below and affords great views of the mountain ranges in the distance (Shawagunks across the valley and the larger Catskills rising over the Shawagunks...but you'll need crystal clear days to see the Catskills). Brace's eastern views aren't bad either. Rolling hills with nothing but trees is all that you'll see. The lush forests of Mt. Washington State Forest and Mt. Riga Reservation are protected from logging or development and the results are fantanstic.
The South Taconic Trail that runs north/south for many miles along the Taconic Range passes right over Brace Mt. You can follow the trail north from Brace and in a few minutes find yourself standing in a scene reminiscent of Ireland or Scotland. The trail follows the ridgetop with its open field look. The smooth rocks and thick grasses invite you to stroll around and find a comfortable spot to rest. Hawks and vultures use the thermals rising up Brace's slopes from the valley below so if you lay back on a warm day you'll likely get a lesson in aerodynamics from these expert gliders. In this region you'll encounter a couple of trail signs and depending on how you're feeling you could incorporate other hikes. Mileage is clearly marked. Mt. Alander would add 5-6 miles roundtrip but the views from Alander are breathtaking so if you're a hearty soul looking for an all day affair, give it a go. But that's not a good idea at all for a beginner hiker or someone not in good shape.
The directions below are to access Brace via Mt. Frissel Trail. You could also access Brace from the southern trailhead of the South Taconic Trail but this would be a much more strenuous hike. The Mt. Frissel path already starts you high up on the Taconic Plateau whereas South Taconic Trail would require a hike up the plateau first and then up to Brace. Visit the South Taconic Trail webpage for driving directions and more info.
Directions: Get on Route 41 in Sheffield, MA (41 heads north out of Salisbury, CT and south out of Egremont, MA.). Just south of Egremont, MA., Mt. Washington Road is off of Route 41 (leftside of road if you're heading north, rightside if you're southbound). Take Mt. Washington Road all the way up the mountain and it will eventually flatten out. Eventually you'll pass Mt. Everett State Reservation on your left and then a short distance later Mt. Washington State Forest (official website) on your right. (As you proceed through here you'll come upon an intersection with a white church and you just want to continue straight...DO NOT follow the sign to Bash Bish Falls towards Copake, NY.). Mt. Washington Road becomes East Street. East Street passes by homes and wooded area and becomes a dirt road. Follow this road to the Connecticut/Massachusetts border. Just to the right of the road sign and border marker is a grass parking area. The red trail markers are for Mt. Frissel. Follow that trail all the way over to where it meets South Taconic Trail (45 minutes - 1 1/2 hours depending upon your pace). Signs for Brace are clearly noted but you just want to go left towards the mountian top clearly in your view. There are other ways to get to Brace and you can click for the official Mt. Washington State Forest map to plan other routes. This will open a new browser window and you can right mouse click to choose "Save As" and put a copy on your computer.
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