I recently did something I don’t normally do- start a hike in the early evening. I decided to find a hike with a sunset and walk the trails through twilight, or what hikers call the “magic hour”. I soon decided on the Eales Preserve at Moosic Mountain, which protects part of a vast heath barren- some of the largest in the northeastern US. Heath barrens are not barren at all, but harbor stunted or low vegetation due to the soil, climatic conditions, and prescribed burns, which in turn provides habitat for rare species, including two globally rare moths. The preserve has an extensive network of trails and is famous for its non-stop views. The perfect choice for a sunset hike.
I’ve been to, and described, the Eales Preserve before. On this hike I took a different route, and it is the best choice if you want views. I hiked the following trails: Bruised Ego, Conglomerate, Stonehenge, The View, Stonehenge, Waterfall, and Blueberry. For views, the only other trail you’ll want to take is the impressive High Voltage Trail, but that was out of the way for this hike. The trails aren’t blazed, but are fairly well established. Most trail junctures have signs, and the trails are also marked with cairns.
This route was beautiful and diverse. There were meadows of ferns and lowbush blueberries, forest of stunted oak and birch, and mature forests with understories of ferns. My hike also crossed three small streams. By the time I reached the Blueberry Trail, the sun began to set with swirls of red, yellow, and orange. I watched the sun melt into the horizon as the birds and crickets called across the vast meadows. I was surrounded by views. The clouds were illuminated by the last of the sunlight as the horizon became inflamed with deep reds and oranges. The moon soon arrived, as well as the stars, as the lights began to glow from the valley below. A warm breeze swept over the ridge as I hiked alone, into the darkness of night. A deer leapt across the meadows and I could smell the musky scent of a bear, but I never saw it. A beautiful hike in a beautiful place. Go there.