Mt. Mansfield and More: Stowe Area HikesAugust 15, 2018
by STOWE AREA ASSOCIATION
Whether you’re a weekend dog walker or an experienced hiker gearing up to conquer Mt. Mansfield, Vermont hiking is at its most accessible in the Stowe area. Gentle forest paths meander just outside of town, and some of the state’s favorite trails start right on Route 108.
As a general rule, Vermont hikes happiest from April to October. Rocky sections are often slippery when wet after rain, and muddy trails can be challenging to navigate. Sturdy shoes are a must for a safe hike, as well as snacks, layers and plenty of water. Pick your trail and prepare for a world of green mountains and panoramic views.
Easy Does It to Sunset Rock
Walking in the woods is a proud tradition in Vermont, where you don’t have to embark on a long hike to get a good view of the Green Mountains. Follow the locals and bring a picnic just 0.1 miles up to Sunset Rock for a bird’s eye view of historic Main Street, then continue a quarter mile along the woods trail to the Upper Overlook, where Mt. Mansfield lies to the west. Take Sunset Street to the trailhead if you’re walking from town, or drive up Taber Hill Road and approach from the parking area.
Moderate but Marvelous to Sterling Pond
Have you ever seen an alpine pond? Though not on Mt. Mansfield proper, the Sterling Pond Trail is a gorgeous, moderate hike that delivers you to the incredibly blue water of Vermont’s highest elevation trout pond. At 2.3 miles round trip, this is an excellent half-day hike to do with kids. Another intermediate option just outside of Stowe village is the Stowe Pinnacle, which offers great views of Mt. Mansfield and Camel’s Hump from a rock summit. The hike is about 3 miles round trip from the parking area on Upper Hollow Road.
Hard and Historic on the Long Trail
If you’re up for a challenge, then lace up your boots for a hike up Mt. Mansfield on Vermont’s historic Long Trail (LT). Built in 1910 by the Green Mountain Club, the LT is the United States’ oldest footpath and runs 273 miles from Massachusetts to Canada. Starting at the trailhead on Route 108, you’ll pass Taft Lodge, the oldest shelter on the LT, on your way to the Chin. Continue over the Chin and hang a left onto the Profanity Trail, which will loop back around for the rocky descent. It’s a long, rugged trip, so get an early start and bring plenty of food and water for the full 4.9 mile loop.
Bonus: Nose to Chin
If you have excellent weather and some spare time, treat yourself to a spectacular ridge walk by keeping on the Long Trail along the entire exposed ridge of Mt. Mansfield. Once you’ve made it to the Chin, it’s 2.8 miles round trip to the Nose, with 360-degree views of the Stowe valley to the east and Lake Champlain to the west.
Gorgeous but Grueling up the Hellbrook Trail
If you’re an experienced hiker looking for a technical challenge, the Hellbrook Trail is hard in all the right ways. It’s only 1.5 miles to the summit, but it goes straight up, and you have to navigate boulders, streams, and tricky rock scrambles to get there. Hellbrook heads up the northeastern side of Mt. Mansfield, where you can detour on the Adam’s Apple Trail for a unique view of the summit. Be aware that Hellbrook can be wet even on sunny days, so consider coordinating two cars to take the Hellbrook Trail up and the Long Trail back down to avoid a truly treacherous descent.
Psssst…You Can Take a Lift
If you’d like to summit Mt. Mansfield but skip most of the strenuous ascent, you’ve got a couple of options. Zig zag up the mountain in your own car on the Auto Toll Road, or take a seat in the sky on Stowe’s famous Gondola SkyRide — either way, you’ll have incredible views of Lake Champlain and the Adirondacks. At the end of the ride, you can sit down to a lunch at the Cliff House Restaurant, or lace up a pair of good shoes and hike the final mile to the Chin.