QUICK TRAIL FACTS
- Preserve Size: N/A
- Trail Mileage: 3.8 miles to summit, 4.5 miles to Cloud Pond
- Pets: yes
- Difficulty: challenging
- Sights: firetower, views, a lovely tarn (small mountain pond)
Barren Mountain is the first big peak (2,670 feet) along the fabled 100-mile wilderness section of the Appalachian Trail, the last and final stretch of the long trail. So be prepared to meet many interesting through-hikers along the way. They can be a chatty bunch.
Day hikers can pick up the trail on either side of Barren Mountain, but the access from the Monson side helps you avoid what can be a tricky fording of Long Pond Stream. But, if you are up for the crossing, you can pick up the AT from Mountain Road, leaving from Greenville.
From the Monson side, you’ll find the trailhead at the end of a long dirt road. From the trailhead, you’ll walk about .7 miles up an unmarked but easy-to-follow footpath to the Appalachian Mountain trail, which is marked with white blazes. The first 1.8 miles of the AT to the views at Barren Slide (accessed by a 250-foot footpath off the main route) is a fairly steady and moderately steep climb. Walk another .2 miles from the slides to an open ledge for the best views of the hike. You can see the summit’s firetower from here. From this point, the summit is another relatively easy 1.8 miles, with the final quarter mile being the steepest push. The summit has a rickety firetower, which you can climb if you’re brave and cautious, for excellent views. The views from the ground are decent but not gasp-inducing.
I highly recommend continuing along the AT for another .9 miles along fairly flat terrain to a .2-mile side trail to Cloud Pond. You can swim in the deliciously remote pond, which seems hidden from the world (there are, however, no mountain views from here). There is a lean-to a little bit set off from the pond’s edge.
Directions: Turn onto Elliotsville Plantation Road from Route 15 in Monson 7.7 miles to a bridge over Big Wilson Stream. Turn left here, and pass the trailhead to Borestone Mountain. At this point the road turns to gravel. After another 2.2 miles, bear left and cross a small bridge. In just about half a mile, take a left onto a much rougher side road. Follow this about .6 miles to its very end, where there is a small area for several cars.