Rand’s View

Scenery:  4.5 cameras out of 5

Difficulty: 6 out of 10 (long, gradual climb)

Highlights:  Gorgeous meadow with wide-open views, Appalachian Trail section

Distance:  5.3 miles, up-and-back

Approximate roundtrip time: 4 hours

Total ascent: 1,395 ft

Max elevation:  1,480 ft above sea level

This hike is for you if: You’d like to visit a one-of-a-kind meadow with awesome views, and you’re not scared to climb over a mountain to get there.

Super-cool Google Earth flyover of hike route:

Google Terrain Map of hike route:

Background you can feel free to skip:  No matter how many hikes you’ve done in the area, it’s unlikely that you’ve ever done one quite like Rand’s View.  Most of the hike is standard enough, following the Appalachian Trail over moderate inclines.  You’ll climb past the decent view atop Mt. Prospect, which might serve as its own a destination on a normal hike.  But then you come down the other side of the mountain and emerge from dense woods into this crazy, enormous meadow that seems like it shoudn’t exist at all.

The low grass stretches on and on, leading to a panoramic view of the Berkshires beyond.  A perfect place to enjoy a romp, a picnic or both.

I’ve been here twice: once on a glorious fall day right at the peak of foliage, and once during a perfect late-summer weekend afternoon.  There were a few other hikers along the trail, but nowhere near the gobs there should have been, and we had Rand’s View all to ourselves both times.  It wouldn’t really matter if there were dozens of other hikers here, though – there’s plenty of room to spread out and take it all in.

Why does this place exist?  I don’t know.  I’d love to hear a good reason why this meadow is here – it doesn’t look like a hay field, but if nobody’s mowing it, shouldn’t it be a forest by now?  And shouldn’t you have to go to Switzerland to find meadows with views like this?

Whatever the reason for its existence, we’re lucky that Rand’s View is in our backyards, and if you’ve never visited, I recommend putting this one at the top of your list.


Trail guide:

1.  From the parking area, turn to face Housatonic River Road, with your back to the river.  Turn left onto the road, then take a right turn in just a moment onto the white-blazed Appalachian Trail.  You won’t see any signage marking the trail, but it’s very well-worn, and you can see a white blaze on a tree just a short way off the road.

2.  In a couple minutes, just past a box with trail maps, emerge into a small clearing.  Follow the trail until in plunges back into the woods, but just before you enter, turn around to see the small view behind you.  Nothing earth-shattering, but it gives you an idea of the surrounding landscape.

3.  Keep on truckin’!  To get to the top of Mt.Prospect, you’ll climb 969 total feet from the parking area over 1.8 miles.  It took me about an hour.  It’s never extremely steep, but you’ll know you’re climbing a mountain for sure.

Just keep following the white blazes of the Appalachian Trail until you reach the summit.  You’ll know you’re at the summit when you come to a rocky little clearing with a beautiful, if somewhat narrow, view off to your right.  Stop to take a breather and soak it all in.

4.  From the summit, it took me another dawdling 30 minutes to get to Rand’s View, heading downhill the whole way (try not to think about the way back).  This side of the mountain is much smaller – it’s .7 miles to the junction with the side trail that leads to the Limestone Shelter, dropping 200 feet in elevation.  (And as Erik noted in his comment below, it’s a pretty easy stroll once you pass the summit – perhaps thinking about the way back isn’t so scary after all.)

Take a right here to continue downhill on the white-blazed Appalachian Trail, and Rand’s View is just around the corner.

5.  From the Limestone Shelter junction, it’s just another .1 miles to Rand’s View.  Keep heading downhill and you’ll burst out of the woods into the coolest meadow this side of The Sound of Music.  Plunk down and enjoy it.

If there’s a better place to visit during fall foliage season, I’m not immediately thinking of it.

6.  When you’re done taking it all in, head back the way you came.  Climb back to the Limestone Shelter trail junction, where you’ll hang a left to follow the sign toward Prospect Mountain (.5 miles).

Then just keep following those white blazes all the way back to Housatonic River Road, where your wheels await.  The return trip took me 1 hour and 15 minutes.  When you get back to your car, rest your weary legs and start daydreaming about your next visit here.

 


Directions to the trailhead:  From Poughkeepsie, head east on Route 44 all the way through the town of Millerton.  2.1 miles after the center of Millerton (still on Route 44), turn right onto CT 112 E (Interlaken Road), which becomes Lime Rock Road.  4.8 miles after leaving Rt 44, turn left onto Salmon Kill Road.  In .6 miles, veer right onto Brinton Hill Road, which is a tiny, windy affair.  In 1.1 miles, Brinton Hill Road dead-ends into Dugway Road, where you’ll turn left.   Head straight, and Dugway Road becomes Housatonic River Road in .3 miles.  Follow Housatonic River Road about another half-mile to the gated, dirt parking area on your right, just above the falls and dam on the Housatonic River.

Hop out of your car, carefully take a gander at the top of the falls, then let the adventure begin!

You can also get directions by checking out the Rand’s View entry on the HiketheHudsonValley.com Google map.

 

Sorta nearby address for your GPS:  The intersection of Housatonic River Road and Sugar Hill Road in Falls Village, CT is just a couple hundred yards south of the trailhead parking lot.  My old-ish Garmin Nuvi lets me put in an intersection as a destination, so hopefully yours does, too.

GPS coordinates of parking area: 41.96369, -73.37222 (Clicking will open in Google Maps or the Apple Maps app, depending on your browser/device.)


 

Related resources:  If you’re looking for actual facts and/or useful information, visit these resources:


More Rand’s View pictures from the hike’s Picasa album:

Was this trail guide useful to you?  Please leave a comment!




24 thoughts on “Rand’s View

  1. Did this hike for the first time with a friend today, and it was wonderful. We drove up from NYC for the day and had zero trouble finding parking by the dam in Falls Village (though by the time we left around 3pm, the lot was full with people using the park across from the trailhead for holiday gatherings). The ascent up Mt. Prospect was just strenuous enough to feel I earned my snacks at the top! But the valley in Rand’s View is truly a showstopper. We only encountered maybe 10 other hikers total today; otherwise it was a super peaceful trek. When we stopped in Rand’s View to have some snacks, it felt like we were in Europe or something. Just spectacular.

    As always, your directions/tips were super thorough and made the whole experience a breeze. Thank you! Can’t wait to do this one again sometime.

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  2. Is there any place to take a dip at that waterfall (legally or illegally?) is the water utterly polluted? Looks a bit brownish.

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  3. Hi! \

    Thank you for such a detailed description of this hike. I am totally sold on it, and cannot wait to go next weekend. Do you by any chance know if we are allowed to camp anywhere around that area or the parking lot where we leave our car? We are looking for primitive camping for just 1 night. Thanks so much in advance!

    Sasha

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    • You can either stay at the Limestone Shelter (side trail about .1 mile south of Rand’s View itself) or there’s probably room to pitch a tent near the shelter as well. I can’t say what this shelter is like but there may or may not be water and the privy is probably just a seat surrounded by bushes (as most privies are on the CT AT). If you do a Google search for the Limestone Shelter, you might be able to find more info or pick up the CT/MA AT trail guide at EMS or someplace.

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      • Yes there’s water, a spring 150′ from the shelter. Also an outhouse w 4 walls and a door. 2 or 3 tent platforms nearby, and a bear box for your food.

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        • Is the bear box new? The CT AMC’s Appalachian Trail Committee hadn’t been supplying them to the shelters unless they decided to start this year.

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    • There is no camping allowed anywhere but at the official Appalachian Trail shelter and campsite which is Limestone Springs. There is a shelter which this time of year is usually per the honor system for AT thru hikers and the campsite has 3_4 tent platforms and a mouldering privy (add finely raked little chopped up leaves after going #1&2) . It is peak thru hiker and summer backpacking season so expect to be sharing the overnight site, and PLEASE don’t create more impact by camping somewhere not directly associated withthe site. trail Rands View os part o the Appalachian National Scenic Trail and is managed differently on each state. In VT the Trail is either on land the National Park Service purchased, or easements of varioussizes with state and private landowners (this at designated sites rule). Please look at the State By State info on www
      AppalachianTrail.org for more and familiaroze yourself with Leave No Trace principles. Happy Trails!

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  4. Just a note on the field: we went up in late June, and there was a tractor and a couple of cars there, making hay! And we got 3.4 for the distance each way.

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    • Thanks for the update, Maya! Sounds like everyone else’s device thinks this is a 6+ mile hike. Apologies that my GPS had to be the one to give the lowball estimate.

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  5. It was nearly 60 degrees and it’s the middle of December… How could I not go for a hike?

    Rand’s view was a perfect medium effort hike for two great payoff points. After the hike, me and the LADY were both commenting how this should be a once a season destination (as in 4 times a year) — it would be awesome to see this place in the spring as it’s blooming, in the fall as the leaves are turning, and perhaps even in the winter. Such a cool view, and a unique view for the hudson valley. — Made me wonder if you could camp in that field?

    The only warning I’d give to anyone is do not use the GPS coordinates on google maps. Just keep an eye out for Millerton, and make sure you don’t pass 112. Follow the directions given above and you’ll be at the trail head in a few minutes.

    If it’s wet and you have a UL Chair — Bring it!

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    • Hi, Dave! Glad you had a great trip out here, thanks for all your nice comments as you explore the Hudson Valley. Good question on the camping — my gut tells me no, but I don’t know that for sure. I also wanted to follow up on your comment about the GPS coordinates. Did you run into a problem with the coordinates I provided above? If so, please let me know so that I can update the guide accordingly. Thank you!

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  6. Did this hike today, the foliage was absolutely stunning! There was no box at the beginning, however someone did mark the trail with an arrow on the street! Quite helpful.

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  7. Going to try and plan a two day hike around this place, it looks too beautiful. Thanks for the information, I use your website all the time to plan day hikes in the area!

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  8. I got 4.9 miles up and back on my phone GPS app. That may be low, but there is no way this was 6 miles. I finished the entire hike in 1 hour 42 minutes. Gorgeous view at Rand’s. Will do this one again in the fall!

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  9. Lovely hike with my sweetie this weekend. The trail itself is very nice: mostly soft underfoot but not eroded, substantially shaded from sun and rain but with plenty of room for the air to move, and with lots of subtle variety. Without hurrying, we were going substantially faster than your timings (our return from RV was one hour flat), so we plowed ahead all the way to Billy’s View, 0.8 miles ahead, maybe 20-25 minutes each way. Billy’s View was very obstructed — I think it would be much better after the leaves are down — and more obviously populated than Rand’s View, but we were happy for the extra distance. Also, along the way (maybe 10 minutes from RV), we passed a neat series of rock formations punctuated by a boulder that looks sort of like a study for Stonehenge.

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    • Sounds like you made it to the Giant’s Thumb. A really strange formation: it doesn’t look real but I guess it must be!

      My dad and I saw a bear just down the hill at Billy’s View in June. It looked at us for a second or two and then ambled off downhill.

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  10. I hiked the trail from the water fall at Falls Village to Rands View and back today 7/3/13 with my 12, and 10 year old sons. It was a great hike, and well worth taking. The grass in the meadows were about a foot long, but that only added even more beauty, and naturalness to the area. No minus points from us.

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  11. Did this hike on May 19th in the rain, not many views could be seen that day but the meadow certainly was breathtaking in the mist! Got some great photographs and had a great day! Thanks for all the info, you have the best guides around.

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  12. This website shows 5.3 miles.

    http://www.everytrail.com/view_trip.php?trip_id=1459471&code=32e49e6258fd2878f8d036bbb684a3f1

    Great hike- took it on this past Sunday, 09/02/2012. Gorgeous the whole way. Your review was spot on, except for when you mention the summit to the view- sure it’s downhill, but barely. We were anticipating a worse descent and return, but it’s nothing. Overall, GREAT hike. Definitely going to do it again when the leaves change.

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  13. Stellar hike! We found the Mt. Prospect overlook as stunning as Rand’s View. Rand’s was a bit of a let-down, as the grass was about a foot high and too tall to romp in. Also, some discrepancy on the hike length — our GPS assured us we’d hiked 6.4 miles up and back. Will have to try it again in the future with a 3rd tiebreaker GPS app.

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    • Thanks for the report, and glad you had a good day there! That’s odd about the distance — my GPS definitely said 5.3, and this other site (http://www.cnyhiking.com/ATinCT-CT41.htm) says 3.6 each way, which would be 7.2 total. The average of those three distances is 6.3, which is pretty close to your number. I’d win if we were playing by Price is Right rules, though!

      If anyone has a tie-breaking estimate on the distance here, please share it. I could believe 6.4, but 7.2 sounds way too high.

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      • This hike distance is even disputed in the guidebooks. AMC CT folks are aware of it. I like the hike from Route 44, but can see the merit of starting and ending in an area with more parking options and water.

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