Tuesday, September 04, 2012

Trail Run at Goose Pond Mountain State Park

After the self-inflicted brutality of Saturday's trail run I was not exactly feeling ambitious about challenging myself again in the same weekend. But I also knew I would feel guilty if I didn't take advantage of the three days off and return to the trails in some fashion, so I halfheartedly asked my wife if she wanted to join me on a run in Goose Pond Mountain State Park.

Sandy Trail-Head & Boardwalk Map
I drive past this park almost every day and had been meaning to explore it's trails. I knew it wouldn't be as technical as some of my other runs so I thought it to a be as good a place as any for my wife to join me (for the first time) on the trail.

I've searched for a map of this park and strangely i haven't been able to find anything, so I decided we should park at the boardwalk entrance that I suspected had a public map at the trail-head. My thoughts were we could review the map (and possibly take a picture for reference) before entering the trails.

Boardwalk over the wetlands
The map was of the boardwalk and wetlands and little more. So we headed out across some sandy soil on to a beautiful boardwalk surrounded by lovely wetland yellows and purples.

I asked my wife to watch her pace since the map didn't have any scale for reference and I didn't want her to get gassed early on her first trail run. Just as I said that the board walk started circling back to the direction of the start.

At an intersection we looped our way away from the start hoping to find more distance, but yet again we found ourselves circling back to the trail-head.

We decided to take the 1st ring of the figure eight one last time knowing it would return us to the trail-head. The Garmin reported a mere .6 miles.

We got back in the car and went to another trail-head about a 1/2 mile up the road (towards Monroe). The parking lot is across the road (Rt 17M) from the start of the trail. So once again we entered the uncharted Goose Pond Mountain State Park (part two of the same run).
Meadow Along Lazy Hill rd

The path is an extension of The Highlands Trail (teal) also known as Lazy Hill Road. From the parking area the tree-lined path climbs briefly to the top of small hill with grassy fields on either side.

Continuing  we were surprised to find the path to be a mix of old pavement and rutted dirt and stone where the old road had been washed away years ago.

The path continues with very few turns through the rolling hills as it descends deeper into the shaded woods lined with old stone walls and small clearings to either side of the retired roadway.

Goose Pond Mountain
Since this was our first exploration of the park and we were uncertain of the distances, we chose to ignore the many unmarked mountain bike trails crisscross the main path until we happened upon a hand painted sign directing us through a grassy field to The Davis Family Cemetery.

The deep grasses were damp and the path was barely worn through the strength of the late summer growth.

At the top of the hilly field was a beautiful hand-made cedar bench built in memorial to a park lover who had passed away. The bench reminded me of the one on the northern vista of Schunnemunk Mountain. This bench overlooked the grassy meadow and the profile of Goose Pond Mountain. I'm curious about this bench maker and the dear friends he's lost.

Taking a Break at the Memorial Bench
We stopped at the bench for a moment to wipe away the sweat from a humid morning and take a drink from my hand-held before we continued in search of the cemetery. The trail divided, we tried to choose the path most used but apparently that was the wrong decision as we never found the cemetery.

We wound our way through small grassy meadows damp with morning dew and small patches of saplings before we eventually returned to Lazy Hill Road.

Again we continued to journey deeper into the park and crossed Seely Brooke by a storm damaged bridge. Just a head we heard voices and stayed to the side of the trail in case a group of mountain bikers came around the gradual bend in the road.

We made our way safely around the corner and two mountain bikers were having a conversation at a fork in the trail. We exchanged greetings and we followed our instinct keeping to our left.

Returning on Lazy
 In just a few minutes on the now soft dirt path encroached with vibrant green foliage my Garmin chimed at the 3 mile mark.

We decided that would be enough for our first venture into GPMP and thought it would be wise to save some for when we return. Later we would find out there was only another 1/2 mile till we reached the end of the road but there was no indication of that from where we turned around.

We returned the way we came, following an out and back course entirely on Lazy Hill Road (with the one unsuccessful cemetery diversion).

The run was peaceful and beautiful. I was pleased by my wife's ability to blaze her way through the grasses and keep her footing on the storm washed road. We enjoyed our first foray into Goose Pond Mountain Park and I look forward to finding my way to the top of the mountain.

This park seems to offer quite a bit of terrain but to my knowledge there are no maps, so you'll have to pack your adventuresome spirit and blaze your own way on the unmarked trails.

Distance: 5.36 Miles
Time: 1hr 12 min
Elevation Gain: 392 ft 

The Route

The Elevation Profile


  1. Love it. Looks like it was a gorgeous morning and a great run. How difficult was it to pick up on the trail through the meadow there?

    1. A lot of the trails are unmarked so it's up to your instincts to determine how far the mountain bike trail might take you ;-)

  2. Anonymous8:14 AM

    Goosepond was one of my favorite places to run, it is so pretty and peaceful in there. Not much of true "trail running", but fun nonetheless.

    1. Yeah, I'd have to agree with that... very nice there and I suspect on weekends that other parks might be crowded that GPM will be relatively quiet. I look forward to returning