Saint-Gaudens National Historical Park | BLOW-ME-DOWN AND SYCAMORE TRAILS

Saint-Gaudens National Historical Park trail map (click to enlarge)

Saint-Gaudens National Historical Park trail map (click to enlarge)

Length: 2.4 miles, round trip from Visitor Center
Time: 1.5 hours
Difficulty: Moderate

The Blow-Me-Down Trail at Saint-Gaudens National Historical Park is an out-and-back trail that leads to Blow-Me-Down Pond (though it does have an alternate return option along the aptly named Return Trail). It begins and ends at the field west of Aspet (Augustus Saint-Gaudens’ house) and the Little Studio. From what I gathered on the National Park Service website, there is not only a pond at the end, but also an old mill, dam, and stone arch bridge. Unfortunately, this section of the trail was closed due to storm damage when I visited, so I could only hike the U-shaped portion that includes the Return Trail. I also hiked the Sycamore Trail, a side trail that forks off to the north. This adds .4-mile round trip to the hike.

Saint-Gaudens was a fan of outdoor sports and recreation, and all of the trails in the park were developed by him and his friends and assistants during his time in Cornish, New Hampshire (1885-1907). If you’d like to experience the landscape just as he did, I suggest starting your hike on the Ravine Trail, a half-mile trail that begins behind the Ravine Studio and finishes at The Temple. From there it is just a .1-mile walk along a grass path to the start of the Blow-Me-Down Trail.

Path from The Temple to the start of Blow-Me-Down Trail

Path from The Temple to the start of Blow-Me-Down Trail

The path from The Temple leads to Blow-Me-Down Trail’s northern trailhead; the southern trailhead is also at the field, but a little farther south. If you didn’t get a trail map at the Visitor Center, you theoretically can pick one up in the brochure box at the start of the trail. I say theoretically because the box was empty when I was there. The Visitor Center is your best bet for procuring a map.

Northern trailhead for the Blow-Me-Down Trail

Northern trailhead for the Blow-Me-Down Trail

The sign at the start of the Blow-Me-Down Trail warns of poison ivy, but the path is generally wide enough to avoid brushing up against vegetation. Though not mentioned, ticks also like to live in the brush, which is another reason to stick to the trail. I did the hike in early September and didn’t encountered any ticks, or even mosquitoes, but there were some bothersome gnats.

The hike begins along a gradual, downhill slope on a trail surface that is relatively smooth and free of rocks and roots. After a little less than a quarter mile you will come to a level reprieve and the intersection with the Sycamore Trail. The Blow-Me-Down Trail continues to the left, but I kept straight and took the Sycamore Trail. If you don’t mind the extra half mile, it’s a nice hike to Blow-Me-Down Brook.

Typical terrain at the start of the Blow-Me-Down Trail

Typical terrain at the start of the Blow-Me-Down Trail

Start of the Sycamore Trail

Start of the Sycamore Trail

From all of the hiking I have done, I have learned that when you are heading in the direction of a creek, river, stream, or other flowing body of water, the trail is most likely to be going downhill because the water is always at the lowest point on the landscape. The Sycamore Trail is no exception, and the level terrain soon gives way to a hill that is a little steeper than the one encountered at the start of the Blow-Me-Down Trail. I normally use hiking poles when traversing hilly terrain such as this in order to lessen the pounding on my knees, but I didn’t bring them with me, for after all, Saint-Gaudens National Historical Park is a park dedicated to an artist. I never dreamed that I”d be hiking.

Typical terrain on the Sycamore Trail

Typical terrain on the Sycamore Trail

The Sycamore Trail dead ends at Blow-Me-Down Brook. You can get right in the water if you’d like, but I had on shorts and wasn’t about to traipse through the weeds.

Sycamore Trail dead ends at Blow-Me-Down Brook

Sycamore Trail dead ends at Blow-Me-Down Brook

Blow-Me-Down Brook

Blow-Me-Down Brook

When done, head back the way you came and keep straight onto the Blow-Me-Down Trail. A sign refers to it as Blow-Me-Down Return Trail, whereas the trail map only uses the nomenclature Return Trail for the actual trail that returns to the field. Don’t get confused—this is the main Blow-Me-Down Trail. The walk south is along flat terrain and parallels Route 2A. You can’t see it, but you can hear the traffic.

Typical terrain of the Blow-Me-Down Trail south of the Sycamore Trail

Typical terrain of the Blow-Me-Down Trail south of the Sycamore Trail

The intersection with the real Return Trail—the one on the map—is less than .2 mile from the Sycamore Trail. Take a left to get back to the field; continue straight to hike to Blow-Me-Down Pond. As mentioned, this section was closed when I visited, so I did not get to see any of the attractions. I was, however, able to get some photos of the mill and the stone arch bridge from the National Park Service.

Mill at Blow-Me-Down Pond (photo by the National Park Service)

Mill at Blow-Me-Down Pond (photo by the National Park Service)

Stone Arch Bridge (photo by the National Park Service)

Stone Arch Bridge (photo by the National Park Service)

The hike back to the field along the Return Trail is very steep, similar to the slopes on the Ravine Trail. Its saving grace is that it only takes five minutes to reach the top.

Steep terrain on the Return Trail

Steep terrain on the Return Trail

Once at the field, look to your 11 o’clock position to see The Temple. The northern trailhead is at your 9 o’clock position. The two trailheads aren’t that far apart.

View of The Temple from the southern trailhead of the Blow-Me-Down Trail

View of The Temple from the southern trailhead of the Blow-Me-Down Trail

Follow the mowed grass path along the tree line, and just around the bend you will see Aspet and the Little Studio. You’ll want to head directly for them, but a field of tall grass stands between you and the buildings, and I don’t advise walking through such grass due to ticks. Instead, head to the right towards the RV parking lot along a dirt and grass path. Once at the RV lot, the Visitor Center and other buildings are just a tenth of a mile to the east.

Aspet and the Little Studio

Aspet and the Little Studio

Back to the Top


With a few exceptions, use of any photograph on the National Park Planner website requires a paid Royalty Free Editorial Use License or Commercial Use License. See the Photo Usage page for details.
Last updated on June 15, 2020
Share this article