The scene of Lake Willoughby and Mt Pisgah are reminiscent of a sight from Norway. This glacial lake looks like a fjord and is surely one of the most picturesque lakes in New England.
|Famous view from the South Shore of Lake Willoughby, Vermont|
Vermont's Northeast Kingdom has captivated me for a long time now due to its rough beauty and seemingly complete lack of people. While I've traveled through the NEK several times, I've actually missed seeing its most famous place- Lake Willoughby. The long lake which is over 300ft deep is somewhat of a symbol for the NEK and serves as one of Vermont's most photographed natural area. Other than that, it is famous for hiking, paddling, boating and ice climbing. More than enough reasons for a guy like me to make it out here.
I had been on a little excursion through northern New Hampshire and Vermont on this particular trip which has included a backpack trip of Mt Cabot, mountain biking East Mountain
and now this. I camped out at the White Cap Campground
on the lake's southern shore and had a magnificent sunset and sunrise. It was a cloudless, cool summer day which was perfect for exploring and hiking.
|The cliffs of Lake Willoughby which are famous for ice climbing in the winter|
The first thing I did was just poke around the south shore beach! There is a small parking lot and the beach is free and open to the public. Apparently its a nude beach but today it was devoid of that crowd. So instead of seeing the kind of crowd that really should keep their clothes on, I was able to see the lake in all of its glory. I was surprised at how shallow and clear the water was on this side. Although its a deep lake, you could probably walk several hundred yards out from the south shore before you got in over your head. It would be a great place to cool off on a hot summer's day.
After this little walk, I had to hike Mt Pisgah which promises uninterrupted views of the entire lake and most of the NEK. I would not be disappointed.
|Mt Hor and the south end beach.|
The parking lot for the hike is not more than a half a mile south of the campground on the lake's southern shores. I decided to do the hike of Mt Pisgah as a loop; starting at the South Trailhead, coming over the summit and the lookouts, down to the North Trailhead and walking along the road back to the start. Total distance of this is 6.9 miles. This is how it was described at Hike New England
. It was a half-day hike which was steep but short. Mt Pisgah can also be hiked as an out and back hike for a total 3.4 miles. If you do it as an out and back, you must not miss the lookouts which are just north of the summit. They are the best!
For me it was a nice walk and the shade made the steepness bearable. Black flies were everywhere but hey, it was New England in mid-June... what do you expect? There were a few directional views on the way to the summit but nothing like what I would see just past the actual marker.
|Views of Lake Willoughby from Mt Pisgah|
|Another lookout from Mt Pisgah|
After spending time at the three lookouts, I walked down to the North Trailhead without any trouble. The road walk back to the South Trailhead wasn't too bad either; just a pleasant stroll along the lake to where I started. There is a cliff jumping spot too which I didn't try today.
Well I would have loved to have spent a weekend there hiking and paddling but I was due back for work that evening. Nevertheless, I was happy to have seen the Northeast Kingdom's most famous sight. I'm sure I'll be back!
Read. Plan. Get Out There!