A visit to Townshend State Park, located at the foot of Bald Mountain on a bend of the West River, feels like a step back in time. The park was constructed during the Great Depression by the Civilian Conservation Corps (CCC), a public works program aimed at putting young men to work. The land in and around Townshend State Park was originally purchased as Townshend State Forest in 1912 through the interest of Howard Rice, secretary of the West River Valley Association. Little is recorded prior to 1924, yet records indicate that a small public camping area was available with nearly 1,000 people registering there during 1927. Initially, the primary objective for this land was timber management. A fire tower was constructed in 1924 to help protect the area. The fire tower was removed in 1949. With history similar to much of Vermont, the lands contained within the state forest once had an agricultural focus. Much of it was cleared for pasture or crops. Stonewalls, cellar holes, and old roads are evidence of such a past. As visitors enter the park property today, they are greeted by lush green lawns leading to the park office, a CCC-built building constructed with stones quarried from the surrounding forest. The park looks basically the same as it did when constructed between 1934-1938. It includes a picnic area, hiking trails and the only Vermont State Park campground that still has CCC-style tent platforms. Today the campground is a popular destination for visitors seeking a back-to-basics, rustic experience. Guests staying on the west side of the campground will hear the gurgling of a small brook running down Bald Mountain. Visitors can take a hike up the Bald Mountain Trail, passing various chutes, waterfalls and pools on the way to spectacular vistas to the north, south and east. Those seeking a less strenuous experience can relax in the campground or picnic area and enjoy the tranquility of this natural area. The campground, situated in a wooded area, has 30 tent/trailer sites and 4 lean-to sites. There are two bathrooms, one of which has showers ($). A picnic shelter with a fireplace and three tables is attached to the ranger's quarters. There is a trail to the top of Bald Mountain for day hiking. Note: Due to the park's physical layout, there is a limit of 6 people per site and only one (1) vehicle per site.
I was surprised by the low reviews on here as we loved this trail for so many reasons! First off, I would rate the difficulty as moderate. The incline is pretty steady all the way up and only levels off a few times. The terrain is rocky and rooty which is typical northern New England and this time of year (late fall) the leaves on the ground are slippery and hide potential tripping hazards. There is so much beauty here!!! The brook offers lots of little pools and cool rock formations, some that reminded me of a water-slide. There are lots of tree, plant and fungi species and we saw several different birds including a woodpecker. Mossy rocks and boulders are scattered everywhere with tall pines and other interesting trees with exposed root systems flank the trail. At the summit, there are two nice sitting areas to relax and check out the views. There is a summit sign on a tree to the left and before that on the right, a geological survey benchmark embedded into a flat rock. This place is so reminiscent of somewhere I would have loved to play and explore as a kid, and doing it as an adult is just as fun! There were some downed trees along the trail but it was well marked. We'd hike Bald Mountain again!
Good straightforward trail. Very little flat parts. It's a steady incline just about the whole way. Follow a nice brook in the beginning with great pools to lay in.The last 1/4 mile(probably less)to the summit is the real leg burner. Easy for experienced hiker, hard for beginners. Summit offers two views, Mt. Monadnock in NH to the west and Bromley & Stratton Mtn. to the north. Good campground too. Went in Mid Aug. while camping and only passed two couples. Totally alone on top.
I was not able to hike this trail from either end! From the link I posted below the trailhead are a not straightforward and have extremely limited parking. I'd love to come back and check this out but I might need to arrange for someone to drop me off close to the start of the trail.