Explore miles of trails by foot or bike at this massive park featuring reclaimed quarry land.
The first quarries of this region came about in the latter half of the 1800s once railroad transportation reached the area and exploration was more accessible. With this area being rich with granite stone cutters from around the world ended up immigrating to Barre. By 1900 it's estimated that 3,500 people were working at an estimated 70 quarries with another 3,500 working at nearby granite factories. As time went on the operations consolidated and quarries closed up leaving only one quarry left operating in the area, Rock of Ages.
Rock of Ages started in 1880 and has been at the same site excavating granite their entire history. It's the largest quarry of its kind in operation and is estimated that at its current rate there is enough granite for another 4,500 years of operation! The quarry can be seen by booking a tour at their visitor's center which has been operating since 1924.
Millstone Trails is a 1500-acre park that is made up of three connected areas and maintained by the nonprofit organization, Millstone Trails Association. It's a network of trails that wander through and around historic quarries and reclaimed forests. It's said that when these quarries were active there wasn't a single tree in sight so all the birch and sugar maples in the park are what nature took back. The quarries give this park a distinct character because of the manmade quarry pools, granite cliffsides, and mountainous paths made from quarry scrap rock.
There are three distinct areas to this park that are all interconnected. They are Barre town Forest, Canyonlands, and Gnome Man's Land. Barre Town Forest is the main area and has trails with the most amount of historic quarries. Gnome Man's Land is the area closest to the Rock of Ages quarry which is operating. This area has some nice lookouts that are some of the vastest in the area. Canyonlands is the furthest out but like the others has some great quarry lookouts.
A cool feature of this park is that there is a lot of historic abandoned property left throughout. I explored less than half of the 1500-acres but came across abandoned quarry factory buildings, construction vehicles, machinery, tractor-trailers, and more. Certain parts of the park also offer several history plaques to give an idea of the quarries that were operating on the sight back in the 1900s.
Getting There and Important Information
The park is located in Barre, VT and there are several options for parking but the map below is to the main lot and the most centralized of the parking lots. Whereas this park would serve as a great short hike, if you are traveling here or not from the area I would leave at least half a day to have time to get around. The trails are non-motorized meaning they are popular for hiking, biking, cross-country skiing, and there is even a frisbee golf course that goes through the Barre Town Forest Park.
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