The last time I was in this section of the Green Mountain National Forest was when I was in college, hiking with my mother and father into Little Rock Pond to celebrate my mom’s birthday. It was one of those perfect Vermont fall days; blue sky, not too hot not too cold, we lingered at the rock out cropping enjoying the sunshine, the color and the peacefulness of it all. My dad had a photo of the two of us on that day smiling into the camera the orange leaves brilliant behind us. It hung in his home office until I took it down a few months ago and put it into my own office. It was the memory of that hike and the photograph on the wall that drove me to run this loop.
The day I ran was nothing like the one in my memory. The color was there but the sky was overcast and the ground was wet from days of rain. The pity party in my head started almost immediately. I slipped on the wet rocks almost as soon as I started, crashing hard onto the ground. Then it began to rain. Even though the thick canopy protected me from all but a few drops and the rain subsided after only a few moments, I was still ready to use it as an excuse to bail. The first mile of trail seemed to get little use and if it weren’t for the blue blazes marking the way, the trail would have disappeared into the forest. As I picked my way along the trail that was leading me back down the mountain away from my end goal, the voices of doubt grew louder. Was I going the right way? I checked the map, yet again, to make sure. My legs began to feel like blocks and I seriously thought about turning around and just going home. Guilt of not being on the road heading back to Erin and the boys was also raging at the party in my mind.
Nothing I did seemed to shake the dour feeling I had. Nonetheless I pushed on. After all, pushing though the adversity of my own mind is one of the reasons I run. It is as much a mental exercise as it is a physical one. Around mile one I reached the main trail, which followed an old road, and I wondered how anyone could have driven up such a steep grade as I struggled to keep moving. I began to worry that I was going to be way behind my estimated time, that I had grossly underestimated both the technical aspects of the trail and my own ability. The forest itself was beautiful with large sections of pine trees clinging to the side of the steep mountain. A few small streams tumbled down the mountain side, their calming music audible long before I had to cross them. Along the ridge I ran on a carpet of pine needles with small pines hemming me in. A beautifully comforting feeling. Yet, despite all the beauty the pity party in my head raged on. Just over the
three- mile mark, I veered off on a side trail following a sign for a vista. As soon as I broke through the trees chills came over me, not from the cool air but from the blanket of color that lay before me unmarred by human hands. Just moments before I had stopped and tried to gather myself, to no avail. Now here I was, the reason for this adventure laid out before me. I soaked in the view, looked to the cloudy sky, told Dad I loved him, and with a renewed spirit continued on.
This run is located in Mount Tabor, Vermont approximately thirty minutes South of Rutland. From US Route 7 take Forest Road 10 a little over 3 miles to the Little Rock Pond Parking area.
The Green Mountain connector trail is just before the parking area on the left hand side, This is a wet rather technical section that does not seem to get much use; however, it is well marked with blue blazes. The trail twists and turns down the mountain to connect with the main Green Mountain trail located just across from the Big Brach view area. The trail follows an old road up the contour of the mountain and there are some steep sections along the way and some rock scrambling. The trail narrows between miles two and three and soon you find yourself running along the ridge. Take time to check out the vista as it is well worth it.
The descent to Little Rock Pond is steep with a lot of big rock roll-overs and step- downs. The rocks can be extremely slippery, so speed is not your friend. Just before you reach the pond, you have the option to go right on the Pond Loop Trail. This will bring you past a rock outcropping overlooking the pond and around the southern point.I chose to go straight and follow the pond loop around to the northern most point and link up with the LT/AT (white blazes) there. Take some time, once you get around to the eastern side, to look up at Green Mountain and where you just came from.
The trail around the pond and for the first mile south on the LT/AT if pretty wet and rocky with a lot of plank walkways to get you over the most muddy spots. Once you cross the river the trail smoothes out; again you are on an old road, and you can really put the hammer down for the last mile.
Bottom Line: This is a great quick nearly 7 mile technical run that is easily accessible.