I had about an hour to kill while one of my daughters had a music lesson in Bristol, so I thought I would document a fun, albeit steep trail run in Bristol, VT. Just north of town is an obvious ridge sometimes refered to as “Deer Leap”. Due to time limitations, I could only get as high as an overlook with western views of the town and Adirondacks, which appears to be about 3/4 up the mountain. Even though the run described does not reach a summit, it does include a 900 ft climb over the course of a 3.5 mile round trip route. On another day, I hope to have the time to continue on the the actual Deer Leap cliff overlook from the true summit, with views to the gorge to the south. As a rule of thumb for this blog, if a trail run requires a significant amount of hiking, rather than running, I have a hard time calling it a trail run. My confession here is that I did have a few short stretches where I was reduced to fast hiking for 20 or 30 yards on steep sections, but I have also done this run without resorting to this in the past, so I have no qualms calling this a trail run. I hope that my conditioning allows me to do this as a pure trail run in a few weeks.
Start this one on the Bristol village green, and head north on the aptly named North St. Go right on Garfield St. This short street takes you to Mountain St. You will notice that my track shows me taking a detour to the left and returning. This is unnecessary, of course, as it is merely a record of my temporary confusion. In any case, go right on Mountain St., followed shortly by a left turn onto Mountain Terrace. Are we starting to see a pattern in the street names? At the end of Mountain Terrace is a green gate, warning you not to park there. I chose not to test their resolve on this issue.
Pass through the gate to begin the ascent in earnest, up a logging road which makes a diagonal ascent along the south side of the mountain. After a short distance, another 4WD track diverges on the left. Make note of it, as it will be part of the descent route. Shortly after this point I enjoyed catching up with a small flock of wild turkies crossing in front of me. Unfortunately, I was not fast enough with my camera to catch them for this entry. Stay straight, until the logging road makes a turn to the left, heading through a large logged clearing. Follow the trail back through the forest for another quarter mile, at which point you will see a well beaten trail veering steeply uphill to the right. From here it is a little less than a half mile to the overlook on the toughest stretch of the run. While this is a heavily used trail, there are some loose stones, roots, and in wet weather, slippery rocks. To your left, some open slabs with outstanding views will open up!
After a breather enjoying the view, take a more direct descent, following the trail, crossing over the original logging road until joining another dirt road which takes you eventually past the gate and back towards town. On this run, when reaching Mountain St., I went left, rejoining Main St., bypassing the temptation offered by the microbrews at the Bobcat Grille, returning to my parked car by the village green.
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