The Dutton Brook Trail at Crotched Mountain in Greenfield, New Hampshire is an easy 2-mile loop trail that crosses the Greenfield border into Francestown and back to Greenfield .
Location: Crotched Mountain Road, Greenfield, New Hampshire. Across from Crotched Mountain Rehab Center.
Allowed activities: walking, hiking, geocaching.
Forbidden activities: NO SMOKING, no camping, no fires, NO GLASS, no bicycles, no ATV use, no horses, no snowmobiles
Hours: Trails are open daily from 30 minutes after sunrise and close 30 minutes before sunset, depending on the conditions.
Parking: There is easy and ample parking near the trailhead.
Pets: With the exception of service animals, Dogs are NOT allowed on the trails.
Accessibility: Dutton Brook trail is wheelchair accessible; however, Crotched Mountain encourages all visitors to check first, to make sure there are no closures to the trail due to damage caused by weather. Hikers can check their website (https://crotchedmountain.org/ go to “PROGRAMS” and from the drop down, pick “ACCESIBLE TRAILS”) or call 603.547.3311 for trail updates. Trails are flat and well maintained. No root hazards to trip over. Part of the trail has a section of very well maintained boardwalks and there is even a nature viewing area with a bench for sitting and watching the wild life. It is a trail that is good for any hiking ability or age. It can be hiked all year round, weather permitting.
Sanitation: There is a large, wheelchair accessible port-a-potty at the parking area, not far from the trailhead. It has always been clean and well maintained any time we visited. There is no running water but there is hand sanitizer. The public is also welcome to use the restroom at the Crotched Mountain Rehab Centers Main building.
Length: This hike is an easy 2 mile trail that loops. The grade slopes, but ever so gently. The trail has no blazes on the way, but the trail is wide, often flanked by stones and its substrate is graded gravel or boardwalk. The trail is so obvious, blazes would be redundant. The Dutton Brook trailhead is adjacent to the Gregg Trail, which is also wheelchair accessible, so there could be the opportunity for hikes to be made longer or shorter. Dutton Brook Trail is a loop or could also be considered an “out-and-back” hike as well.
Trail information: Next to the parking area, and adjacent to the two trailheads, there is a small information/education plaza area. There you will find picnic tables (wheelchair accessible), a small trash bin and a Hiker registration house with maps and a sign in book. Often times the maps are either used up, weather worn, or scavenged by critters, so it’s safest to print out a map before heading out. If you don’t have a map, you can easily snap a picture of the trail with your phone or camera from the posted trail placard in the plaza area. If you want to plan ahead, a Trail map can be found here:
Along the trail can be found information boards that describe the features of the area. One of my favorites is an odd boulder deposited near the trail by a glacier.
Crotched Mountain Rehab is a center for people with brain injuries as well as other neurological challenges. The more than $500,000 dollars raised to construct these trails, came from private citizens, foundations, personal gifts, businesses, corporations as well as grants from The Christopher and Dana Reeve Foundation and the Dell Foundation. At the time of its completion, it was the longest trail built to universal design standards for accessibility in a mountain setting, in the United States. Crotched Mountain encourages hikers of all ages and abilities to enjoy their lovely trails free of charge.
One of THE BEST things we have found along the trail, are the tracks left behind by wheelchair hikers. Too often we can forget that we are lucky to have the freedom to explore that comes with the freedom to move without challenges. This trail reminds us in the most beautiful way how lucky we are to get out in nature and just be.
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