From the parking area, proceed east on a grassy woods road across the meadow. You are following the white-blazed Appalachian Trail, with some white blazes on posts. At the end of the meadow, the trail curves to the right. In another 100 feet, the Appalachian Trail leaves to the left, but you should continue ahead, now following the inverted-red-triangle-on-white blazes of the Arden-Surebridge (A-SB) Trail.
You are heading south along the Arden Road, built by Edward Harriman in the 1890s. In places, the old road has narrowed to a footpath. You will notice remnants of an old wire fence on the right. This fence was built to enclose an area once inhabited by elk brought from Yellowstone National Park in 1919. The elk did not thrive, and the small remnant of the herd was relocated in 1942. The area formerly enclosed by the fence, though, is still known as the Elk Pen.
In a third of a mile, the A-SB Trail turns left, leaving the road, but you should continue ahead along the road, now following the Stahahe Brook Trail, marked with red-horizontal-stripe-on-white blazes. In another third of a mile, you’ll reach Stahahe Brook, with attractive cascades on the left. The road formerly crossed the brook on a stone-arch bridge, but the bridge was washed away during Hurricane Irene in 2011.
Follow the Stahahe Brook Trail as it turns left and begins to climb on a footpath parallel to the brook, visible below to the right. In about 0.4 mile, after a brief descent, the Stahahe Brook Trail ends at a junction with the white-blazed Nurian Trail.
Turn left onto the Nurian Trail, which climbs on switchbacks. From the crest of the rise, the trail descends to cross the outlet stream of Island Pond, with a cascading waterfall on the left. It then turns left and begins to parallel the stream, passing more cascades and waterfalls, as well as an interesting grassy meadow. At the top of the ravine, it goes through the Valley of Boulders – a narrow passage between large rocks.
After climbing some more, the Nurian Trail bears left and runs along a long, sloping rock, with limited west-facing views. A short distance beyond the end of the rock, you’ll reach a junction with the yellow-blazed Dunning Trail. Turn right, leaving the Nurian Trail, and follow the yellow blazes.
The Dunning Trail soon reaches a rock ledge overlooking Green Pond. This pristine pond – one of the very few in the park that was not enlarged by the construction of dams – is surrounded by reeds. You’ll want to take a break here to enjoy the wild beauty of this special spot.
The trail continues along the north shore of Green Pond, following a rugged, rocky route. At one point, the trail passes beneath an overhanging rock. The trail bears right at a fork and continues along the east shore of the pond. After moving away from the pond, the Dunning Trail crosses the white-blazed Nurian Trail, then turns left onto the Island Pond Road, a woods road. Soon, the yellow-blazed trail turns right, leaving the road, and - in about 150 feet - reaches the entrance to the Boston Mine. This mine, which was last worked in 1880, is cut into the hillside, with a water-filled pit at the northern end. The mine entrance is usually quite wet, and caution should be exercised (do not approach the water-filled pit).
After taking a look at this interesting mine, go back to Island Pond Road and turn right. There are no blazes to guide you along this stretch of the road, but the route is clear and unmistakable. The road gradually descends through hemlocks and mountain laurel. After about a third of a mile, the A-SB Trail (inverted red triangle on white blazes) joins from the right. You’ll be following this trail for nearly the rest of the hike.
Just beyond, you’ll reach a fork, where you should bear left, continuing to follow the red-triangle-on-white blazes. A short distance beyond, the red-triangle-on-white blazes bear left again, leaving Island Pond Road, and descend to cross the outlet stream of Island Pond on rocks. The trail continues around the southern end of Green Pond Mountain and comes out in an area where young hemlocks and pines are beginning to revegetate an area damaged by a forest fire. Just before the trail begins a steep descent, an unmarked side trail on the right leads to a limited west-facing viewpoint from open rocks.
The A-SB Trail now turns right and begins to run along a ledge, with a fairly steep drop to the left. Soon, it turns sharply left and begins a rather steep descent on switchbacks, passing a huge overhanging rock on the left. At the base of the steep descent, it bears left and crosses a stream. It then turns right, climbs a little and levels off, passing an interesting rock formation on the right. Soon, it again begins to descend, but on a more moderate grade.
After crossing another stream, you’ll reach Arden Road. Turn right and follow the road, now retracing your steps. Where the A-SB Trail ends, turn left and follow the white-blazed Appalachian Trail across the meadow to return to the Elk Pen parking area, where the hike began.Publication: Submitted by Daniel Chazin on 12/17/2004 updated/verified on 02/26/2023
This loop hike goes through the interesting Valley of Boulders, passes pristine Green Pond, and reaches the historic Boston Mine.
Whether you are going for a day hike or backpacking overnight, it is good practice to carry what we call The Hiking Essentials. These essentials will help you enjoy your outing more and will provide basic safety gear if needed. There may also be more essentials, depending on the season and your needs.
Hiking Shoes or Boots
Water - Two quarts per person is recommended in every season. Keep in mind that fluid loss is heightened in winter as well as summer. Don't put yourself in the position of having to end your hike early because you have run out of water.
Map - Know where you are and where you are going. Many of our hiking areas feature interconnecting network of trails. Use a waterproof/tear-resistant Tyvek Trail Conference map if available or enclose your map in a Ziplock plastic bag. If you have a mobile device, download Avenza’s free PDF Maps app and grab some GPS-enhanced Trail Conference maps (a backup Tyvek or paper version of the map is good to have just in case your batteries die or you don't have service). Check out some map-reading basics here.
Food - Snacks/lunch will keep you going as you burn energy walking or climbing. Nuts, seeds, and chocolate are favorites on the trail.
Sunscreen and insect repellent
Rain Gear and Extra Clothing - Rain happens. So does cold. Be prepared for changing weather. Avoid cotton--it traps water against your skin and is slow to dry. If you are wearing wet cotton and must return to your starting point, you risk getting chills that may lead to a dangerous hypothermia. Choose synthetic shirts, sweaters and/or vests and dress in layers for easy on and off.
Compass - A simple compass is all you need to orient you and your map to magnetic north.
Light - A flashlight or small, lightweight headlamp will be welcome gear if you find yourself still on the trail when darkness falls. Check the batteries before you start out and have extras in your pack.
First Aid Kit - Keep it simple, compact, and weatherproof. Know how to use the basic components.
Firestarter and Matches - In an emergency, you may need to keep yourself or someone else warm until help arrives. A firestarter (this could be as simple as leftover birthday candles that are kept inside a waterproof container) and matches (again, make sure to keep them in a waterproof container) could save a life.
Knife or Multi-tool - You may need to cut a piece of moleskin to put over a blister, repair a piece of broken equipment, or solve some other unexpected problem.
Emergency Numbers - Know the emergency numbers for the area you're going to and realize that in many locations--especially mountainous ones, your phone will not get reception.
Common Sense - Pay attention to your environment, your energy, and the condition of your companions. Has the weather turned rainy? Is daylight fading? Did you drink all your water? Did your companion fail to bring rain gear? Are you getting tired? Keep in mind that until you turn around you are (typically) only half-way to completing your hike--you must still get back to where you started from! (Exceptions are loop hikes.)
Check the weather forecast before you head out. Know the rules and regulations of the area.
The Leave No Trace Seven Principles
- Know the regulations and special concerns for the area you'll visit.
- Prepare for extreme weather, hazards, and emergencies.
- Schedule your trip to avoid times of high use.
- Visit in small groups when possible. Consider splitting larger groups into smaller groups.
- Repackage food to minimize waste.
- Use a map and compass to eliminate the use of marking paint, rock cairns or flagging.
- Durable surfaces include established trails and campsites, rock, gravel, dry grasses or snow.
- Protect riparian areas by camping at least 200 feet from lakes and streams.
- Good campsites are found, not made. Altering a site is not necessary.
- In popular areas:
- Concentrate use on existing trails and campsites.
- Walk single file in the middle of the trail, even when wet or muddy.
- Keep campsites small. Focus activity in areas where vegetation is absent.
- In pristine areas:
- Disperse use to prevent the creation of campsites and trails.
- Avoid places where impacts are just beginning.
- Pack it in, pack it out. Inspect your campsite and rest areas for trash or spilled foods. Pack out all trash, leftover food and litter.
- Deposit solid human waste in catholes dug 6 to 8 inches deep, at least 200 feet from water, camp and trails. Cover and disguise the cathole when finished.
- Pack out toilet paper and hygiene products.
- To wash yourself or your dishes, carry water 200 feet away from streams or lakes and use small amounts of biodegradable soap. Scatter strained dishwater.
- Preserve the past: examine, but do not touch cultural or historic structures and artifacts.
- Leave rocks, plants and other natural objects as you find them.
- Avoid introducing or transporting non-native species.
- Do not build structures, furniture, or dig trenches.
- Campfires can cause lasting impacts to the backcountry. Use a lightweight stove for cooking and enjoy a candle lantern for light.
- Where fires are permitted, use established fire rings, fire pans, or mound fires.
- Keep fires small. Only use sticks from the ground that can be broken by hand.
- Burn all wood and coals to ash, put out campfires completely, then scatter cool ashes.
- Observe wildlife from a distance. Do not follow or approach them.
- Never feed animals. Feeding wildlife damages their health, alters natural behaviors, and exposes them to predators and other dangers.
- Protect wildlife and your food by storing rations and trash securely.
- Control pets at all times, or leave them at home.
- Avoid wildlife during sensitive times: mating, nesting, raising young, or winter.
- Respect other visitors and protect the quality of their experience.
- Be courteous. Yield to other users on the trail.
- Step to the downhill side of the trail when encountering pack stock.
- Take breaks and camp away from trails and other visitors.
- Let nature's sounds prevail. Avoid loud voices and noises.
The Trail Conference is a 2015 Leave No Trace partner.
(c) Leave No Trace Center for Outdoor Ethics: www.LNT.org.