Continuing to climb mountains and visit small towns through rural Southern Vermont. 
The Long Trail up Mt Stratton
Day 2 of my Southern Vermont road trip held just as much history and hiking as the first. Today I took a pleasant morning drive through the Green Mountains and arrived at the trail head for Stratton Mountain. This mountain holds a very important part in the history of both the Long Trail and the Appalachian Trail. While the latter is the more well known of the two, the Long Trail was the first long-distance trail constructed in the United States. The designer, James P. Taylor, got the idea for such a trail while on Stratton Mountain and Benton MacKaye latter got the idea to construct the Appalachian Trail.

I've been hiking so much on the Long Trail lately that I'm going to actually backpack the whole thing one of these days...

Beaver Dam, Mt Stratton Trail
The trail begins just past the asphalt of the Kelly Stand Road in Stratton, Vermont. Its a somewhat rough but well-maintained trail. Within the first mile, I saw a gigantic beaver pond! It was a steep ascent but this is just common for the Long Trail. The total distance was about 3.4 miles from the parking lot to the summit.

The summit itself actually does not offer great views beyond the fire tower. You can climb to the top of this lookout and have a 360-degree view of Southern Vermont. I could see Mt Ascutney to the Northeast, Mt Equinox to the Northwest, Mt Dorset to the Northwest and all the way to Mt Killington in the North. The view was great but I knew that I would have a better one on Mt Killington.
Looking to the South on the summit of Mt Stratton
After I got back to the trailhead, I wandered across several mountain roads and passes until I ended up in the town of Manchester, Vermont. This town starkly contrasted the mountain towns I'd seen earlier. Boutique stores, designer outlets, private schools... it just didn't fit in for the trip I was on. I could imagine coming back here for a pleasant weekend retreat, but it was certainly not like the rough and spirited towns I'd visited earlier.

There is, however, a great hiking area just outside of town. It was nearly sunset when I reached the park, but I wanted to hike Mt Equinox which is a very steep mountain in the extreme southeastern part of Vermont. It was very difficult to find out online information about hiking to the summit of Mt Equinox, but I found the Equinox Preserve and Trust website which has maps of the maintains trails. At the trailhead there were also free maps.
Dusk on Mt Equinox summit
It was about a 3.1 mile hike to the summit of Mt Equinox and there was a 0.4 mile trail to Lookout Rock. Neither the summit nor the lookout were great views by Vermont standards. You could see all of the valley and parts of New York from the summit but most of it was obscured by trees and the decaying remains of a summit hotel. There's also a road leading to the summit. The summit left much to be desired.

Oh well, its all part of the game of hiking New England's 50 Finest! Tomorrow I would be heading to Mt Killington which is considered one of the best summits in the state.

Day 3: Mt Killington and Rutland, Vermont

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