Wild and rugged Monroe State Forest has deep valleys, steep mountains and tall trees reaching for the sky. To view this forested landscape with valley-filled fog is an unforgettable experience. A hike to the top of Spruce Mountain or to CCC-built Raycroft Lookout offers magnificent panoramas of the surrounding Hoosac and Green Mountains and Deerfield River. From the parking area off River Road, hike the Dunbar Brook Trail through shaded stands of old-growth old-growth Eastern Hemlock and associated northern hardwood trees. This pristine brook tumbles and drops 700 vertical feet in two miles, over huge moss-covered boulders forming entrancing waterfalls, rapids and pools. The forest has reclaimed much of the farmland and pastures that previously existed here in the 1800s. Only cellar holes and stone walls remain; stark memorials to the rugged individuals who once wrested a living from this rocky soil.
I did my first solo overnight backpacking at the Dunbar Brook shelter. I choose a water side tent site down the bank from the shelter. Access to a crystal clear, refreshingly cool pool was 30 feet from my tent. there was a fire ring and some left over firewood. The hiking was OK. The trails are in tough condition. A footbridge that use to allow you to pass from the trail head to the Dunbar Brook path has been washed away. I had to take off my boots and wade across. It was about 2.5 ft at the deepest point in the wade. A regular visitor informed me that Hurricane Irene did a lot of trail damage. There were a lot of gnats and mosquitoes. Off was a God send. My goal was backpacking and overnight camping solo, so that was a success. The trails were not interesting enough to entice me to drive 3 hours again. If I lived closer I might give it more attention.