What began as a vision several years ago has become a real on-the-ground trail system and nature reserve. Further trail improvements to be made in the coming years include a few boardwalk sections across wet areas, some trail benching here and there, view clearing and a lean-to shelter at the Lake property summit, and a trail designed and constructed at the soapstone quarry.
This 207-acre property was acquired and conserved in 2010, with the help of the Vermont Land Trust, a major Vermont Housing and Conservation Board grant, the Windham Foundation, and significant donations from many area people. It is currently managed by a committee under the WHPA called the Athens Dome at Grafton Conservation Committee (ADGCC).
The Athens Dome at Grafton Conservation Committee appreciates the diverse and essential support that has made this possible:
Athens Dome trails are cleared and marked with disks. Parking areas are improved and kiosks installed. Click on the map above to access a larger map of the trails. Take a look, and hike or snowshoe the new trails.
The RT 35 trailhead with parking area and kiosk is located across from Sleepy Valley Road, which leads to the kiosk and trailhead for the connecting trail to the Windmill Ridge Reserve trail system. To explore that trail system, please refer to the Windmill Ridge Trail map available at those kiosks or click here. The physical address of the trailhead is 28 Route 35, Athens, Vermont; across Route 35 from Sleepy Valley Road.
Sleepy Valley Trail approximately 1 mile: Begins at the RT 35 kiosk and trailhead, going immediately into the woods and across a small seasonal drainage stream. The trail climbs the hill, crosses a couple of wetter areas, eventually reaching a steep final ascent across a large interesting boulder area. Although this is not rock climbing in the strict sense of that concept, it is a challenging stretch requiring hikers to carefully pick their footing through the large boulders. At the height of the hill the trail passes through hemlock-dominated woods, then begins a steep descent through mixed hardwood forest with dense stands of hemlock. At the base the trail crosses Ledge Brook. The trail then arrives at the Ledge Road parking area and trailhead. The physical address of the Ledge Road trailhead is 758 Ledge Rd, Grafton, Vermont.
Creature Rock Trail approximately 0.5 mile: Beginning next to the kiosk near the Ledge Road parking area, the trail climbs swiftly uphill to a rather open understory level area surrounding the pile of house-sized glacial erratic boulders called “Creature Rock”. The name comes from previous owner’s children who occasionally heard animal sounds from within the crevices that are appealing as shelter. The trail then continues uphill through mixed northern hardwoods. At the height of the land there is a short 0.1-mile spur trail to the right (north) to a viewpoint. The trail continues rolling to an intersection with Shortcut Road. This is a very limited-use old woods road. Continue west along the road to find where the next section of trail departs the road headed west. The physical address of the trailhead is 758 Ledge Rd, Grafton, Vermont.
Wetland Trail 0.5 mile: Continuing west, the trail departs the old woods road near a beaver wetland (on your right). Continue through mixed northern hardwoods gradually climbing to a junction with Kidder Hill Road. This is a minimally passable old town road.
Athens Dome Trail 1.15 mile: The trail crosses Kidder Hill Road and continues slightly south and west climbing uphill through hardwoods forest. At approximately 1 mile the trail drops slightly to a level wooded spruce bog area. The trail traverses just the southern tip of this special ecosystem: notably dark, silent, and hummocky, dominated by black spruce. The trail climbs up again and across the side of the slope to a junction with the Bear Hill Trail.
Bear Hill Trail (not managed by the Pinnacle Association)
From the junction of the Athens Dome Trail to Turner Hill Road is 0.5 mile.
From Turner Hill Road to summit is 0.75 mile. It is very steep and rocky between the road and Turner Hill Road. To see the view to the west, look for a wooden sign posted above head height, amongst the dense evergreens as you reach the ledges approaching the height of the ridge. This trail traverses the ledges of the crest of Bear Hill, dropping steeply down to connect with Kidder Hill Road at the northern end, where a sign marks the intersection at the road.
Turner Hill Road has no formal parking area for hikers and no kiosk or sign. The road is accessed from Grafton along the Grafton-Townshend Road. It is a dirt road to the left driving south about 1.5 miles from the village center. The trail is 0.75 mile up the road to the left.