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Brace Mountain

On the Trail

by Kate Erwin

You don't have to go far to find adventure in this area. One of our favorites is the hike to the summit of Brace Mountain. Located just outside Millerton, Brace is the highest point in Dutchess County at 2,311 feet wIth fantastic views of New York's Hudson Valley, Connecticut and Massachusetts. For this reason, Brace's Bald Peak is a favorite of paragliders and hikers alike.

You can reach the peak from the top of Bash Bish Falls or in New York on the South Taconic trail. Either way is a commitment but comes with a huge reward at the end.

If you start from the New York side, you'll park in a residential neighborhood on Quarry Hill Road at a trailhead. The first part of the summit is challenging and steep with lush cascading waterfalls but not to to worry. Just after the vertical part of the climb, there is a series of flowy rolling ascents at which point the hike does level out. The vegetation changes on top of the range, to a rocky, mossy, short pine forest. Once on top, views of Connecticut's Riga Lakes appear to the south.

Staying on the white blazed trail, you will finally reach the summit. It can get a little windy up top so bring a jacket. If the thermals are just right, you might find instructor and pilot Benoit Bruneau from Lets Go Paragliding launching off Bald Head, a tremendous sight. Depending on your speed, round trip from the New York trail head can take at least 3 hours or more.

If you come from Bash Bish, you will park in the upper falls and follow the trail away from the falls. You will have to cross the stream to connect with the South Taconic trail. This approach isn't as strenuous as the New York side but it is very long and will take 3 hours just to make it to Bald Peak It is suggested you park two vehicles, one in New York and one at Bash Bish. However if you do leave and return from Bash Bish, you can always just hike to Alander mountain which also features stunning views as far as the Catskills.

Which ever route you decide to take, make sure to bring plenty of water, food and a map. Also please remember to carry out all your trash and let someone know when to expect you back.

Happy trails!