Length – 1.2 miles (add an additional 1.4 miles for Moose Odyssey access)
Difficulty – Difficult for skiing, hiking Intermediate, elevation change: 200 feet down, 174 feet up;
This trail is our newest and our only true ‘hiking’ trail. Unlike our other wide and ski type trails this trail provides a more adventurous tour of Libby Hill Forest. A great trail for hikers, mountain bikers, and back country skiers. It also features lots of great boulders for kids and adults to explore along with a serene pool and small waterfalls on Tyler Brook. Please follow only red marks on this trail. Ribbons may be present but are for new trail work and should not be followed!
This trail offers many areas for exploration including lots of interesting boulders, a scenic pool and waterfall, and a hike up over an esker (sometimes called ‘horse backs’ or ‘whales backs’).
You can learn much more about the man behind the trail, Harold Libbey, by reading the biography we have included on this site.
The trail starts and ends off the east side of the Moose Odyssey Trail. Take trailhead 2 behind the Middle School and follow the white marked trail for 0.6 miles to the top of Libby Hill. After you pass through the stone wall you will see a memorial to Harold Libbey on your left. The trail starts right of the memorial and is blazed a dark red color. The trail drops quickly down hill winding through areas with small trees and many open areas with ferns. This area was logged several years ago and you can get a good view of a succession forest, consisting of small pine trees, beech and lots of sweet fern. Erosion has worn down Libby Hill here and the trail follows a natural groove down the hill. You’ll quickly notice lots of rocks along the trail. While present everywhere, this trail has by far the most rocks and boulders of any of our trails. This trail heads directly west and is especially pleasant in the afternoons where you get lots of light and occasional views of other hills through the trees.
After 1/4 mile the trail levels off and starts to have many areas of moss and you will cross a wet area that has just had a new culvert added to make crossing easier. You will rise up a small knoll and at 0.3 miles come to what is called the ‘grove’. This area has a nice stand of young pine trees that are about 30 to 40 feet high along with some larger hemlock trees. Combined with the sloping bank on the backside it makes a natural amphitheater where you can take a break on one of the large rocks under the trees. The trail turns sharply left here, note where you see two trail marks on a single tree means a sharp turn. You will see to the right a connector trail blazed yellow and white that connects with the return loop of the Harold Libbey trail. You can use the connector to shorten your trip by about 1/2 mile, but for this hike stay on the red trail that goes left.
The trail narrows through some more pine trees and then goes through an open area of ferns with relatively few trees. Carefully watch the path here where it crosses a small wet area over some moss covered rocks. The trail rises up a small ridge then quickly drops down to Thayer Brook at 0.5 mile mark where you come to a very pretty pool and two small waterfalls. Be very careful not to cross the brook and follow survey ribbons here! While a new one mile trail is planned for this area across the brook, it is not ready for use and can be hard to navigate.
Continue following the red trail marks for about 200 feet along the brook before turning sharply right where you begin climbing up the a small esker. Eskers are formed from glaciers and have steep drops on both sides. This esker is steep on the left side but more sloped on the right. Near the top on the right is ‘Whale Rock’, we call it whale rock since it is by far the largest on the trail at over 35feet long and 15 feet high. Take some time to explore the Christmas ferns that grow on top of it or the large brown lichens on the back side. Be aware that the trail circles back around the back side of this rock so keep a close eye on the direction you are headed. At the 0.75 mile mark you have gained 50 feet in elevation in 1/4 mile and have a nice few down to Thayer Brook below. Take a break here and sit under one of the large hemlocks or pine that inhabit the top of this hill.
You soon pass the back side of whale rock and begin the climb back up Libby Hill. At the 0.9 mile point you encounter the connector trail blazed yellow and white on your right. Remain on the red trail and soon you will encounter a wet area that has had some excavation for a future bridge. This area has lots of sphagnum moss that may feel spongy under your feet. After this point, the trail zigzags up hill and passes a number of car sized boulders. The woods begins to get much more mature here as you approach the original Libby Hill property which has much older growth pine oak forest. At the 1.2 mile point you come to the end of the trail and return onto the Moose Odyssey Trail. You can continue left on Moose Odyssey for a long hike (total distance of 4 miles) or right to return back to the Middle School in 0.8 miles.
I think you will discover that this may be one of your favorite exploration trails on Libby Hill, be sure to give us your feedback on what you think. We also have trail work in this area if you would like to volunteer.