This is an out-and-back trail, 2.2 miles each way, for a total of 4.4 miles. It took our family (kids ages 7 and 9) about 3 hours.
Some notes from my family's experience:
If you need a fun destination to motivate reluctant hikers, this is it! My kids rate this as one of their favorite hikes.
Parking for this is on the street across from the main entrance to Black Rock State Park. Set your GPS for Black Rock Park (in Thomaston), and when you arrive, look for the blue oval sign that says Branch Brook Trail across the street from the Black Rock Park entrance. Park there, on the side of the road.
The first .8 miles of this trail is blazed blue and yellow, and follows the Branch Brook. It is wide and flat, with views of the brook on the left and mossy, fern covered rock ledges on the right. It is really lovely!
After .8 miles, you will come to a trail junction. Take the sharp right turn, going up hill on the light blue blazed trail. From this intersection, just keep following the light blue blazes all the way to the cave. The trail climbs quite a bit on the way there, including two or three steep scrambles up rocks that may require using your hands (and butt scooting on the way back down!). The mossy, fern covered rock ledges continue throughout this trail and are truly beautiful! In May of last year, this trail also had lots of Trillium and Jack-in-the-Pulpit wildflowers.
You'll know when you arrive at the cave. The blue blazes go right through it (although there is also an unmarked trail that bypasses around the cave, so be sure to actually follow the blazes). You'll climb up a little ledge and then climb and explore through two caves, the first more open and the second more enclosed. As you exit the second cave, you can follow the blue trail a little further up hill and make a sharp right at the next trail intersection. Follow the blue blazes along a the short rock ridge and you'll find yourself on top of the cave, at a rocky peak with some great views. If you are looking at a map or using a hiking app to navigate, this spot is sometimes labeled "Cranes Overlook." Enjoy a rest before turning around and taking the same trail back to your car.
Information about the Leatherman that the cave is named for is HERE.