Length: 3,164 ft. • Difficulty: 1
Terrain: Dirt, street sweepings; moderate tree cover
Trail map

Accessible via East or West trails, the 3,000-foot long Deer Trail provides a short, easy hike or bike ride for the whole family. Tall pine trees stand guard on both sides of the trail just after the trail crosses Shannon Drive.

If you enter City Forest via the Tripp Drive gate, Deer Trail begins shortly after the 3,000-foot marker of East Trail. It crosses Shannon Drive and goes through a batch of knee-high ferns. Late-afternoon sunshine gives this part of the trail a garden-like appearance.

The city thinned trees along the trail considerably last fall, taking away the warm feeling the pine trees that hugged the trail provided. A close inspection of the remaining pines shows why the city thinned the trees: Many of the trees were so close together they blocked sunlight from the younger trees, causing the younger trees to die prematurely or experience stunted growth. To see how this happens, look at the remaining undisturbed groves that have not been thinned and look at the remaining trees.

Although the forest floor along Deer Trail’s path is soft and mossy on either side, the trail itself is stable because of its foundation of rocks, dirt and street sweepings used to build the trail.

As with the other maintained trails at City Forest, you might get more enjoyment from Deer Trail by exploring some of the un-maintained trails that break off and head into undisturbed parts of the surrounding woods. You will find two such trails about 1,500 feet along the trail, measured from East Trail. The un-maintained trail that heads left and into the bog features a heavily moss-laden forest floor that is extremely soft to the touch and spongy despite the drought.

The un-maintained trail that breaks off to the right is easier to walk, but it still requires patience with tall grass and young pine trees that are struggling to survive. This side trail features quite a few large boulders that rode the large glaciers that once blanketed the northeastern United States at the end of the Ice Age. If you follow this side trail to its send, you will end up on Main Road.

Back at Deer Trail, several benches are placed at good spots for hikers wanting to rest or enjoy the surroundings.

At the 6,000-foot marker – 6,000 denoting the number of feet from the beginning of East Trail – Deer Trail crosses Tripp Drive. Not much farther, the trail then crosses Main Road before ending at West Trail.

Deer Trail is flat and easy to walk and bike. It is not much of a trail for mountain bikers looking for a challenge. Still, it makes for a perfect trail for parents to take their children on, whether hiking or biking.

2001-09, Ryan R. Robbins. All rights reserved.
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