Our Magnificent Campus
Southern Vermont College sits on 400 acres of rolling meadows, wooded hills and shady mountain forests. Numerous trails wind through the beautiful campus, offering a closer look at the wilderness around the College. All of the trails are well maintained with steps, planks and bridges so that they can be enjoyed easily throughout the year.
In honor of his commitment to SVC, the environment and wellness, the SVC Trail System has been dedicated to John Case, who was the former Director of ACTion (now known as the Center for Teaching and Learning). He retired in Spring 2007.
The trails themselves wind all through the SVC campus and up the side of Mt. Anthony. The longest are only a little over two miles in length, making all of them very good day hikes. Most of the trails were mapped by Chris Donch and Ben St. George, two former SVC students, under the advisement of former faculty member Jim Henderson. View or download the map.
The Apple Trail (1 mile) and the Happy Trail (2.3 miles) are known as the Fitness Trails and circle the campus proper. The Mansion Trail and the Hayfield Trail lead through the fields between the residence halls and the Mansion.
The ten mountain trails are called White-tail Run, Crossover, Cork Screw, Mt. Anthony Summit Trail, Ursa Way, Turkey Run, Cave Trail, Little Summit, Cliff Hanger and Everett Path. The longest are Mt. Anthony Summit and Whitetail Run.
Many trails boast highlights such as an old cave, a supposedly haunted pool and breathtaking views of the Green Mountain range. However, the numerous opportunities to see Mt. Anthony’s vegetation and wildlife ensure that each and every trail is worth a hike.
The Verne Howe Memorial Interpretive Trail Map was developed by SVC student Charlene Gaj for her senior thesis project. The trail was dedicated to former SVC faculty member Dr. Verne Howe, who was a highly respected and dedicated environmentalist.
The Bennington Area Trail System (BATS) is a non-profit organization with 501c3 status and a chapter of the Vermont Mountain Bike Association located in Bennington. Local bikers, runners, and hikers advocate for sustainable multi-use single-track trail for the enjoyment of area residents and visitors alike. BATS works with public and private landowners to plan, build, and maintain trails for non-motorized use in and around the Bennington area. Updated maps are available through the BATS Web site. In the near future, a kiosk with maps will be available on SVC’s lower campus, near the Mountaineer Athletic Center as an entry point. For more information on BATS, contact Jeb Gorham at 802-447-6382 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
The Cave Trail, one of the paths running along the side of Mt. Anthony, gets its name from the Everett Cave, a marble solution cave that cuts into the side of the mountain. A solution cave is one that is formed when acidic water carves away the stone. The cave features many interesting dripstone formations, which are best known as stalactites and stalagmites. These are formed by accumulating mineral deposits, and their names are derived from the Greek word meaning “that which drips.”
Flowing down into the Everett Mansion courtyard, there is a multi-tiered fountain known as the Cascade, which runs the length of a stone stairway leading into the forest. The woods themselves are nothing short of enchanted. It is not unusual to come across stone faces, figures, and tables, tucked away beside the trails and aged by moss and vines.
Other Points of Interest
Mount Anthony is part of the Taconic Mountain range, which runs through southern Vermont and is primarily composed of marble, soluble limestones, talc and schist. On Mount Anthony, the Taconic Schist has split to form many tiny ravines that one might step into. Some of them are deep enough to cause serious injury if not navigated with care. All of the SVC trails navigate around these ravines, but it is still wise to tread carefully on the mountain.
Along Ursa Way, the remains of an old marble quarry can be seen. There is also evidence on the mountain of an old plane wreck, possibly from the 60’s or 70’s. The remains of old stone walls can be seen winding through the undergrowth, a reminder of the days when most of Mt. Anthony’s forests were cleared for pasture. Nowadays, these crumbling walls serve as shelter for many species of insects, birds and rodents. Along the trails, the dry riverbeds of intermittent streams wind and dip down the mountainside. These streams recharge groundwater with runoff from snow melt and then disappear in the drier seasons.
Vegetation and Wildlife
Throughout all seasons, many plants and animals can be found along the trails.
Some of the rarer plants that grow on the mountain include: Climbing Fumitory, a beautiful white-flowered biennial that is part of the Bleeding Heart sub-family; Blue Cohosh, the striking blue berries of which were used by Chippewa wise-women to facilitate births; an unusual hybrid of White and Red Baneberry, both of which are deadly poisonous to humans; and several other lovely species like Yellow Lady’s Slippers and Maidenhair and Bublet ferns. The stands of hemlocks that dot the trails act as a natural compass, because their terminal shoot, or treetop, always slants eastward. Scotch pines, which account for 30 percent of the 35 million Christmas trees harvested each year, grow in stands along the trails as well.
A whole variety of small animals such as cottontail rabbits, chipmunks, squirrels, voles and mice make homes in old trees and fallen logs, and the forests are thick with the calls of house sparrows, cardinals, wood thrushes, goldfinches and chickadees. Foxes, bobcats, coyotes and even fisher cats prowl the undergrowth, and the many fields provide excellent grazing for white-tailed deer. It is not uncommon to find bear tracks in the fresh snow. In 1938, a Quebec trapper caught the very last mountain lion on record, and due to encroaching civilizations and high bounties, mountain lions (or catamounts) have seemingly disappeared from New England woods and have reached an almost mythical status. However, there are about 40 to 50 “sightings” of the great cat every year, so it never hurts to keep your eyes open when on the trails.
The History of the Trails
Most of the mountain trails were once logging roads, making them all about ten feet in width. Many of the trails still show the grooves from the large logging trucks that once lumbered up and down Mt. Anthony. The routes were constructed in order to gather fuel for Mr. Everett’s wood-burning furnaces.
With this history comes a bit of legend as well, for it is rumored that some of the trails are haunted. The Vermont Ghost Guide, written by Joseph Citro and Stephen Bissette, states that hikers have reported sightings of “three-dimensional shadows” of a woman and a child by the campus’s upper pond. Looking at the old trees, dark glades and creeping vines, it is easy to imagine how the trails might offer more than just a nature walk.