The Marsh-Billings-Rockefeller National Historic Site was created in 1998 to honor the legacies of George Perkins Marsh (an early leader in the environmental movement), Frederick Billings (who once owned the land), and members of the Rockefeller family (who donated the property to the National Park Service). Hence the unwieldy park name.
A side effect of their work and philanthropy is the preservation of a perfect place for every runner. The carriage roads are smooth enough to welcome those who typically prefer road running and hilly enough to keep the interest of trail runners. The multiple trailheads and miles of trail make it possible to string together hours of running. And even at the peak of foliage season, there is still plenty of room on the trails to accommodate everyone.
There are at least three places to access the trails. One is to park at the Billings Farm. From the parking lot, cross Route 12 to enter the National Historic Site and head uphill on the Mountain Road trail (a carriage road). After about a mile, you’ll reach a series of intersections with other trails. From here, you can make your way to the south peak of Mt. Tom (1,250 feet), about a two-mile trip from the parking lot. Or you can circle the Pogue, a small, mysteriously named pond.
A second trailhead is found on Prosper Road, which can be reached by driving (or running) south on Route 4 for two miles from Woodstock Village. From the trailhead, there are a few different trails that offer quick access to the carriage roads. It’s not quite as much of a climb to reach the intersections leading to the Pogue and the summit of Mt. Tom from here, but the start of the run will still be uphill.
A third option is to access singletrack from Faulker Park, on Mountain Avenue in Woodstock Village. A series of long, gentle switchbacks eventually leads to the summit of Mount Tom. Most of this trail is runnable, with just a few steep rocky sections near the top. From the summit, you can explore more of the singletrack, including the route to the slightly higher north peak (1,359 feet), or head downhill on the carriage roads.
There’s not really a bad choice. But a particularly scenic section is the North Ridge Loop, a carriage road that winds gently up and then down just to the northeast of the Pogue. Combining the North Ridge Loop with a trip around the Pogue and up to the south peak of Mt. Tom offers a look at some of the trail system’s highlights and a mix of terrain.
Miles of trails: about 20
Details: The trails are maintained by the National Park Service.
Terrain: There are about 14 miles of wide, nontechnical carriage roads, and about six miles of singletrack trails.
Highlight: The view of the village of Woodstock from the summit of Mount Tom.
Map: Here you go (PDF)
Race: Road to the Pogue, about a six-mile race on the carriage roads that includes a tough climb at the start, a fast descent near the end, and pancakes with maple syrup at the finish line.
Where to go after a run:
Long Trail Brewery (great beer and surprisingly good food, especially the Hippie Burger)
Woodstock Farmer’s Market (great sandwiches)
You can access the trails from a few spots: the Billings Farm, Prosper Road, and the Faulkner Trail from Faulker Park
View National Historic Site trailheads in a larger map