Vermont is a small, sparsely populated state with some of the best adventures in the eastern United States. I am continually drawn to the many mountains and hikes in the Green Mountains as well as other parts of the state. These 10 mountains are my favorite of the endless hiking opportunities that are available in the state.
|Hiking the Mountains of Vermont
Who would have thought that "The Green Mountain State" would have a bunch of green mountains to climb? Well its not surprising, but there really are some of the country's best hikes in this state. Most of them are crossed by Vermont's infamous "Long Trail" which climbs many of the major summits from Massachusetts to the Canadian border. However there are some notable summits off the Long Trail. So after having traveled all across Vermont, I'd like to present you with what I consider to be some of the best hikes. Any serious Vermonter will probably have hiked all of these, but I tried to throw in a couple that weren't as well known or didn't have a ski resort.
|Hiking Mt Killington
1. Camels Hump, 4,083ft
Ah, shoot... how many times can somebody talk about how great the Camels Hump hike is? If you're a Vermonter, you probably hiked this mountain before you could even walk. Although it is not the tallest mountain in the state, Camels Hump is Vermont's Mountain in the same way that Half Dome is the emblem mountain of California or how Katahdin is Maine's mountain. Camels Hump is on the Vermont Flag and State Quarter. So although its always talked about as a great hike, there are good reasons behind it. You can hike it from the East, West, North or South depending on how long you want the trip to be and most hikers do it in a day. Hiking from the Monroe Trail in the East makes it a 6.6 mile long hike, round trip. Hiking the Burrows Trail, from the West, makes it a 5.8 mile round trip hike. Both are spectacular!
2. Mt Stratton, 3,940ft
|Mt Stratton, the birthplace of the Long Trail and Appalachian Trail
Mt Stratton comes in a close #2 on my list of most historical hikes in Vermont. Camels Hump is great, but Mt Stratton was the spiritual birthplace of both the Appalachian and Long Trails which are two of the country's most famous long-distance hiking trails. Funny to think that two different people stood upon this summit and both thought "Hey, lets make a giant trail in the mountains". As such, when I first hiked Mt Stratton, it was almost a religious pilgrimage to a holy site. Mt Stratton is crossed by both the Appalachian Trial and the Long Trail and it is an important summit in its own right. The best way to climb it is through the Long Trail in the South. Its a hard place to get to, but worth the drive. The Long Trail from the parking lot to the summit and back is roughly 6.8 miles long and can be done in a day. The fire tower at the top has views of all of Southern Vermont. You might even think of your own long distance hiking trail at the top!
3. Jay Peak, 3,862ft
|Long Trail up Jay Peak in the Fall
Jay Peak is perhaps more famous for being a ski resort than a trail, however it is a great mountain to hike. Its only 5 miles south of the Canadian Border too! I hiked Jay Peak from the Long Trail in October when the leaves were in full color and I couldn't get enough of it. It was my first New England Fall and I hit it at just the right time. The views from the summit are expansive and you can easily see all of Northern Vermont and the mountains of Southern Quebec. The parking lot is on Route 242 as it crosses the Long Trail. Its about 7 miles round trip and it is a steep hike. There are a few views along the way too. Directions
Mt Mansfield is the high point, of course! At just over 4,000ft, its modest in elevation in the way of state high points, but don't let that fool you! At these latitudes, its high enough and cold enough to have a significant alpine zone which is bare and features views of the entire state. I hiked this mountain a long time ago when I first came to New England and that would have been before I started blogging! It was an interesting hike- I did the Long Trail just past Stowe Mountain Resort. I ended up running into a bunch of fog but I was happy to hike the high point. As you can see from the map, there are perhaps a dozen different ways
you can reach the summit and each has their merits. If you do the Long Trail route, it is about 4.6 miles, round trip.
5. Mt Ellen, 4,083ft and Mt Abraham 4,005ft
|Mt Abraham in the Spring
Mt Ellen and Mt Abraham would make this list include 11 mountains but I figured I would combine these two because they are on the same ridgeline and usually hiked together. Mt Ellen is the taller of the two but Mt Abraham is more famous and has better views. I was delighted when I drove out to the trailhead because I saw multiple artists painting pictures of Mt Abraham! What a great way to start the hike. I hiked the Battell Trail from the West but there are many hiking options
. If you hike from the Battell Trailhead and do Mt Ellen as well, it is 11.8 miles, round trip. The hike follows the ridgeline between the two summits and there are numerous mini summits with great views.
|Summit of Mt Ellen
6. Mt Equinox, 3,840ft
|Summit of Mt Equinox at Sunset
Mt Equinox is unique on this because a) Its not on the Long Trail, b) Its not in the Green Mountains and c) There's no ski resort! So if you thought I was just doing the summits of the LT, you're wrong! Mt Equinox is in Southwestern Vermont and is the tallest summit in the Taconic Mountains which run along New York, Connecticut, Massachusetts and Vermont's borders. This is the same mountain range which Mt Greylock
and Mt Frissell
are a part of. The hike of Mt Equinox is 6.2 miles and a small side trail leads to Lookout Rock which has the best views. Here is a map
from the Equinox Preservation Trust. Like most of these hikes, it is steep but easily accomplished in a day.
Mt Ascutney has 2 out of the 3 qualities of the former- its not on the Long Trail and its not in the Green Mountains (technically speaking). Mt Ascutney is a monadnock, you know... kind of like Mt Monadnock? This is to say, its a smaller mountain that rises abruptly from its surrounding terrain and is not connected to any other mountains. Mt Ascutney has a volcano-like appearance to it for this reason. What makes this hike special is its unique views of the Connecticut River Valley and the Vermont-New Hampshire border. I hiked the Windsor Trail which was a short but steep 5.4 mile trail, round trip. There are also many other hiking trails
8. Killington Peak, 4,235ft
|Mt Killington Summit
Okay, we are back to familiar Long Trail favorites and I couldn't write this without including Mt Killington. This one is about as famous as Camels Hump and Mansfield; if you're a Vermonter, you've hiked it, skied it, snowboarded it, brought your kids and dog up it. I hiked the Bucklin Trail
which is the most popular way of hiking the mountain. I did it the summer after Irene rolled through and it was quite ridden with debris. Nevertheless, the trail was excellent as were the views.
9. Mt Pisgah, 2,785ft
|More classic Vermont hiking...
Mt Pisgah is a summit on the famous Lake Willoughby in the Northeast Kingdom. The lake is reminiscent of the glacial fjords of Norway and its easy to see why its become such an ideal location for hiking and ice climbing. The easiest trail is about 5.0 miles and here is the map
. I've come to view the Northeast Kingdom of Vermont to be one of the most ideal places in New England for hiking and relaxing. Its such a quite and unassuming place that doesn't quite have the hustle and bustle that the White Mountains or Green Mountains tend to have. The "NEK" as they call it is as Vermont as it gets.
10. Mt Philo, 968ft
|View from the summit of Mt Philo
This is a whimsical little hike just south of Burlington, Vermont. I threw this one in here because a) It has amazing views, b) It's easily done as a family hike and c) It's very historical! First of all, the views- from its comparatively modest elevation of just under 1,000 feet, Mt Philo has views of Lake Champlain and the Adirondacks. Its about a mile long hike and here is the map
. I doubt there's a better view for such a short hike. This is also Vermont's first state park! As such, I just had to include this one in the mix.
There's 10 mountains with perhaps two dozen hikes! Hopefully there are some great hikes in here that you haven't done. Regardless, Vermont's mountains will continually offer great respite from my busy life... whether its the 900ft summit of Mt Philo or hiking the Long Trail entirely!
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