Length – 1 mile (add an additional 1 miles for Moose Odyssey/Harold Libbey access)
Difficulty – Skiing – difficult (Back country skiing only) hiking – Intermediate, elevation change: 112 feet up and down
This gets you to the most remote and wild area of Libby Hill. You are very likely to see wildlife in this area. This includes our Heron colony in the wetlands area which is populated with over 2 dozen nesting herons in late spring and early summer. The trails are marked but you should have good hiking skills, carry a compass, and have a map with you.
The Outback is given its name for many reasons. It is a place that seems much more remote than its mile distance from the Middle School. Combined with the Harold Libbey Trail, this hike gives you a completely different experience than the structured ski trails on top of Libby Hill. The Outback also has a brook, beaver dams, a marsh, porcupine rock, lots of boulders, and frequently moose.
The trail has only one access point making a one mile loop that begins across Thayer brook on the Harold Libbey Trail. The fastest way to gain access is to take the outer arm of the Moose Odyssey Trail from the GNG Middle School. After about ½ mile you will see the Harold Libbey Memorial and trail head for the Harold Libbey Trail. Proceed down the trail about another ½ mile where you come upon the ‘pool’. Harold Libbey trail (red blazes) follows the north side of the brook but if you look across the brook you will see yellow blazes showing the beginning of the Outback trail. There are three good stepping stones in the brook to make the crossing. Carefully check water levels that are being impacted by a series of beaver dams on both sides of the brook.
There are lots of opportunities for side explorations around Thayer brook. Beavers down stream have recently built a house and 3 small dams upstream from the crossing. You will see lots of chewed trees and if you are lucky you can see a beaver in the pool. They have been know to watch hikers for up to 10 minutes from the water. The yellow blazes start on the south side of Thayer brook and follow the brook for about 100 feet then it turns uphill to the left. After about another 100 feet you come to the loop, meaning if you go in either direction you will come back to this point. You can go either clockwise or counter clockwise on the trail, this description will stay left (clockwise). You quickly rise up about 30 feet in elevation about the brook and you can look down on two beaver dam sites. You should also see trees that have been chewed by the beavers on the slope on your left. On your right you will notice that the forest has been harvested recently leaving lots of open space and slash from a lumbering operation. This gives you a good chance to see how the forest grows back after a harvest. Lots of young beech, bayberry, and sweet fern have erupted as light has opened up the forest canopy
Text Box: Moose Point (Marshview) The trail meanders for about ¼ mile then turns sharply to the right to climb a boulder studded ridge. You will gain almost 80 feet in a short section of trail. The trail takes this route to avoid many wet spots and vernal pools that populate the down slope to Thayer brook. As you crest the hill the trail turns 90 degrees left (note: if you go right you can connect in 100 feet to the return loop) to follow an old woods road that has some wonderful boulders lining its right side. The trail then descends back down the ridge and follows a narrow passage between rocks gradually bringing you to the ‘Marshview’ or ‘Moose Point’. This small peninsula has good views into the marsh created by years of beaver dams downstream. Moose scat is frequent in this area and it is highly likely you could see one if you spend some time sitting one of the large pine stumps on the point that make ideal benches. There are also some unusual plants in this area, one of which is “witches broom’ that grows about 10 feet off the point.
After leaving the views at ‘Moose Point’ the trail snakes back to beginning of the ridge on the south side of the property. You will have several excellent views of the beaver formed marshes as you proceed. Then you come to the largest boulder on the trail system, ‘Porcupine Rock’. Porcupine Rock is called this for two reasons; one, it looks like a porcupine in shape with Christmas ferns on top looking like quills and second, if you explore around the rock you will see piles of light brown pellets. These are from the porcupines that live under this rock. This large rock marks the end of a long ridge which also has a large pile of boulders that are fun to explore with you adventurous youngsters. It also marks the half way point on the trail and is an excellent place to take a break.
After porcupine rock, the trail climbs up the ridge quickly on an old woods road. The trail then rides the top of the ridge for nearly 1000 feet. Many young pines have sprouted here from the recent harvest. If you look right you will see the main ridge of Libby Hill in front of you along with a view of the cell tower there. The trail descends in two stages; the first descent brings you to the corner of the property where you will see a grove of old hemlock trees along with an orange property stake. The second descent quickly drops down to Thayer brook. You will start to see the horseback of the Harold Libbey Trail rise up in front of you across the brook.
The last 500 feet of the trail follows the south bank of Thayer brook. You will have excellent views of the beaver house and their newly formed ponds. The old hemlock groves here provide good winter bedding areas for deer. Coyotes now this spot as well and we have found one deer kill and coyote scat with deer fur in it around this area. If you want to explore off trail, you can follow Thayer brook upstream where there are some fantastic beaver dams about 1000 feet from the trail.
The trail connects back to the loop where you first started. There should be a trail map here and to return you need to turn left where the trail takes you back to the brook crossing in about 200 feet. Once you cross the brook back to the Harold Libbey Trail, you can extend your hike by following the Harold Libbey Trail left along the brook or return back to the Middle School the way you originally came
The Outback Trail is a great addition to the Libby Hill Trail system, providing great natural diversity and additional recreational options for trail users. If you like some adventure, this is the trail for you!