Split Rock Mountain has over 10 miles of hiking trails and the southern trails to Barn Rock, Snake Den Overlook, and a rocky beach on Lake Champlain, wind through dense forests, around wetlands, and to rocky cliffs with great views.
Split Rock Mountain (South)
1.7 miles (3.4 miles round-trip)
Westport, Essex County
Hiking, Snowshoeing, Cross-Country Skiing
Level of Difficulty: Moderate
Hike the Split Rock Mountain Trails
The trail network on the south side of Split Rock Mountain leads through beautiful northern hardwoods and oak-hickory forests to a beach and scenic overlooks above Lake Champlain. This collection of trails are all part of the public Forest Preserve in the Split Rock Mountain Wild Forest in the Town of Westport in Essex County. The two most popular destinations are the trail to a beach at Lewis Clearing Bay, which includes a short spur trail to Snake Den Harbor Overlook, and Barn Rock Trail.
The trailhead parking area is located on the east side of Lake Shore Road, about 6 miles north of Westport. The trails can be hiked as out-and-back trails using the same route or as loops. The parking area is large, though on busy days, vehicles park on the roadside. The trail register is on the trail at the rear of the parking area. The trails in this area are well marked and easy to follow.
The Split Rock Mountain Trails at the South End of the Wild Forest Area
The 1.7-mile Lewis Clearing Bay Trail begins with a short rise. There are two options to split off to the southern trails. At about 0.3 miles, Gary’s Elbow Trail turns to the right, and at about 0.5 miles the Lewis Clearing Bay Trail splits off to the right. To the left is the North Rim Trail, which leads to a network of trails on the north end of the Split Rock Mountain Wild Forest area.
The Lewis Clearing Trail is surrounded by a mixed forest, though there stands of heavy spruce, white pine, and hemlocks that carpet the trail with pine needles. The trail travels south for about 0.7 miles, where it intersects with the Barn Rock Trail. Soon the Barn Rock Trail hooks off to the south, and the Lewis Clearing Trail heads east towards Snake Den Overlook and the beach on Lake Champlain.
The Beach and Scenic Overlooks at the South Side of Split Rock Mountain
The Lewis Clear Bay Trail continues east, descending gently through the dense mixed forest. The last half mile drops fairly steeply, but the trail is in good condition as it descends to Lake Champlain’s shore. Before the trail drops, watch for the spur trail on the right to Snake Den Harbor Overlook, which provides a great view of Lake Champlain to the south from above. The beach at the end of Lewis Clear Bay Trail provides a wonderful view of the lake and is a pleasant change of scenery from the dense forest. Hikers return using the same route.
The 2.7-mile Barn Rock Trail follows the same route from the parking lot and trailhead as the Lewis Clear Bay Trail. At a point roughly 1 mile in, where the two trails run together for a stretch, the Barn Rock Trail hooks off to the south. After this point, the trail drops down gradually from the intersection, curling slightly to the right through a shallow ravine.
After about a mile, the trail reaches an intersection with the Calamity Trail to the right where it continues straight toward Barn Rock Overlook. The mossy and rocky slopes around the trail here are unique as it passes around a number of downed trees and massive boulders. Soon the trail rises up onto a beautiful rocky overlook that juts out next to a small cove. The view of Lake Champlain from here is magnificent and there are lots of rocky perches to sit, rest and soak up the scene.
For the hike back, follow the Barn Rock Trail to the Lewis Clearing Trail to the parking area.
Click here to download a map and trail directions for the Split Rock Mountain trails on the southern part of the tract, including the Barn Rock Trail to the Lewis Clearing Trail.
When You Hike Make Sure to Practice “Leave No Trace” to be Prepared and to Protect the Forest Preserve
Please follow “carry in, carry out” rules for all trash and follow other Leave No Trace principles when hiking in the public Forest Preserve and other wild areas. The seven Leave No Trace principles are: 1) Plan ahead and prepare ; 2) Stay on hiking trails and camp at designated areas; 3) Dispose of human waste and trash properly; 4) Leave what you find; 5) Minimize campfires; 6) Respect wildlife; 7) Respect other hikers.
Educated hikers do not damage the environment. Prepared hikers do not need search and rescue unless injured.
Winter Use: Split Rock Mountain is a popular mountain for snowshoeing and cross-country skiing in the winter.