Length: 4,288 ft. • Difficulty: 5 (substantial stretches of rocks and roots; mud)
Terrain: Densely wooded, peat, rocks, roots
One of City Forest’s finest and seldom used trails, Moose Trail gives hikers a quiet path through the middle of the forest, far removed from the more popular and well-traveled trails such as East, West, Deer and Grouse. The trail is not maintained.
The trail begins off to the left of East Trail at about East’s 4,000-foot marker. It emerges from the woods at the junction of Main Road and Shannon Drive and resumes across Main Road. The first section of the trail from East Trail to Main Road is the straightest and the rockiest. The trail begins through a small cropping of exposed bedrock and winds slowly to the left. The trail doesn’t offer much for an atmosphere or view here, as it goes through a thinned area of trees.
After about 200 feet from the beginning of the trail, you will reach a three-prong fork in the path. The middle prong is Raccoon Trail and is marked. Take the left prong to continue along Moose. A plush carpet of moss covers the trail’s rocks in this area, so be careful hiking this stretch, especially when the ground is damp. It is almost impossible to lose the trail here because the trail is straight and marked by yellow paint on trees on each side.
Upon passing through thick moss on the forest floor, you will encounter roots before again walking over moss much thicker than before. Young pine trees encroach on the trail on the right in this section.
After a few hundred more feet, the trail picks up a more-defined path as the moss gives way to peat underfoot. Shannon Drive is visible on the left through the thinned section of trees.
Moose Trail emerges from the woods at the 3,835-foot marker for Main Road. Cross Main Road to pick up the trail; there is a wooden sign to the right and slightly back of the Main and Shannon road signs.
Ferns and young pine trees dominate this second stretch of trail as the trail turns to the left through another section of thinned forest. The ground here is bumpy with roots, rocks and sun-bleached kindling.
The trail then goes up a slight incline, where it turns away from Main Road and then descends into a thick, virtually undisturbed section of pines. A handful of cedar trees stand guard at the entrance. Just before descending into the shadows of the forest’s center, you will cross a straight trail perpendicular to Moose Trail that runs north-south. This second trail is Owl Trail.
After crossing Owl Trail and descending into the shadows of thick woods, you will find yourself seemingly in another world. It is quiet and still here. The perfect time to be here is on a late-afternoon fall day, just after a mild rainfall, when the hues of green from the pine trees are their darkest and hues of yellow, orange and red from birch, poplar, maple and other trees are their most vibrant without being washed out by harsh sunlight.
About 100 feet farther, the trail winds to the left for about 60 feet before turning to the right and crossing a small wooden bridge over a shallow brook. The trail moves to the right slightly after crossing the bridge before returning to the left and passing over a patch of moss-covered rocks. A few hundred feet farther, the trail goes up an incline and passes on the right of a thinned section of trees. You will soon encounter a trail that branches off to the left; this is Bobcat Trail.
After passing a fallen pine tree on the right of the trail, the trail curves to the right and descends. It then hooks to the left. You will have to go over a few pine trees that have fallen across the trail, but the trees are small and easy to step over.
On this last stretch of the trail, the forest thins considerably on the left, with discarded branches, twigs, and tree trunks strewn about. On the right, the forest is thriving. Hundreds of ferns cover the forest floor, along with large patches of soft moss. At the west corner of the wetland to the right, Bear Trail begins. I will cover Bear Trail next time.
Bear left to stay on Moose Trail. The trail cuts through the thinned trees and comes out on Loop Road. To circle back to the Tripp Drive parking lot, take a left onto Loop Road – heading east – and then take a right onto Main Road at the beginning of Loop.
Although Moose Trail’s terrain isn’t demanding physically, it makes for a slow walk because of its turns through thick woods and intimate serenity through the heart of City Forest.
© 2001-09, Ryan R. Robbins. All rights reserved.
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