Near Rupert in the Taconic Range, the Merck Forest & Farmland Center has a variety of trails open for horseback riding. These trails cross diverse terrain, and they are available for beginners to experts. Only horses are permitted on these trails.
The Merck Forest is located on SR315 near Rupert. The parking area is very tight and can be difficult to navigate.
The silviculture trail is located about 1.25 miles off of Old Town Road from the Visitor Center.
Named for a long-time friend of the Merck family, John McCormick. An amateur forestor and conservationist, he was extremely influential in advising Merck Forest on forest programs and also served on the Advisory Council. McCormick trail runs from Old Town road to Clarks Clearing off Antone Rd. It is a narrow trail and it is quite steep at the Clarks Clearing end, where there are spectacular old red oak trees.
John Marquand, American novelist, was a good friend and Harvard classmate of George Merck's. Marquand road has been closed since a severe windstorm in 1999. We hope to be able to open the trail soon for visitors interested in seeing the destructive force wind and its role in the forest ecosystems in the northeast.
Named for a farmer whose land is now part of Merck Forest, Stone Lot Road forks off of Old Town Road at the farm then travels through our vegetable fields before it dips down into the woods to Stone Lot shelter. Stone Lot is Merck Forest’s flattest trail and it is often used by those looking for a less challenging walk. It has great views of the Green Mountains to the east and of the surrounding fields. A walk of the flatter section takes about half an hour from our Visitor Center.
Old Town Road
Old Town road is the main artery of the property. At its northern end near the farm and Visitor Center it is Merck Forest’s most heavily used trail. But past Birch pond it receives relatively little use by hikers. It starts at the Visitor Center and goes 4.5 miles to our back gate in West Rupert. Old Town road has some spectacular views from the farm and at the top of the hill above the farm. There is also a great deal of beautiful stream scenery near the back gate of the property where the property goes along the headwaters of White Creek. The front stretches of Old Town Road contain some steep hills, but near the back gate the road has more moderate slopes and is more suited to cross country skiing.
The Discovery trail is a short trail starting at the Visitor Center parking lot and looping downhill then up to the farm. The trail passes through some young forest, then through wildlife habitat cuts, then our orchard.
Named for a former manager/caretaker at Wind Gap Farm the Burke trail goes through mature, open woodland on a north facing slope. There is a mixture of birch, oak, maple, and other northern hardwood trees. The Burke trail gets little use in the summer, but it is a popular trail for cross country skiers in the winter who enjoy skiing in the fields near Rt. 315.
Overall, Merck Forest is the 3rd most popular horse trail of all 5 horseback rides in Vermont.