Mount Mansfield Loop Hike
Hiking/Walk DATE: 06/07/2014 - 06/07/2014
Trip/Event Location: Stowe, VT
Trip Leader(s): shep5
Max # People: 15
Trip Guiding / Event Fee: No, I will not be asking participants for money
Difficulty Level: Moderate to Strenuous
Join me for this hike up Mount Mansfield, which is Vermont's highest peak at 4,393 feet. This will be an out-an-back hike utilizing the Long Trail from Smuggler's Notch. The...
We will meet up just after the Stowe Ski Area and before the gate on Rt 108.
From I-89, take Exit 10 for VT-100 N towards Waterbury. Drive for about 9.5 miles and then take a left onto VT-108 N (Mountain Road). After 7.8 miles you will have just passed the Stowe Ski area and will be near the gate for the road through Smuggler's Notch (VT-108). Parking is along the road on the left. Look for a gray Hyundai Elantra.
For GPS Users: 7780 Mountain Rd; Stowe, VT 05672 (44.533265,-72.78685)...approximate location of winter parking near Barnes Camp...just before the point where Route 108 is gated.
Saturday was going to be an absolutely fabulous day with 12 guys signed up for the hike up Mt. Mansfield. We met up at the "winter" parking area at Barnes Camp just before the gate into Smuggler's Notch (the trailhead lots are rather small and probably wouldn't have accommodated up to 10 cars from our group). By 9:20 everyone had shown up except for Dan, Joel and Jim (who was having car trouble). We set off by walking up the road to the Hell Brook Trail. As we reached the LT trailhead, we found Joel waiting there. So we were now 10 guys (Tim, Martin, Michael, Joel, Fred, Mike, James, Thomas, Dan and myself) and we continued to walk the road to the other trailhead, which we reached by 9:45AM.
We headed up the Hell Brook Trail and this steepened almost immediately as it climbed past a waterfall and through a huge boulder. Luckily, the trail was mostly dry, which helped in getting traction on the bare granite. By 11AM views into Smuggler's Notch and over to Stowe's Spruce Peak were opening up. The views over the notch and southward over Stowe just became more and more spectacular as we climbed. The grade of the trail didn't really relent much until we were almost to the Lake of the Clouds and the trail junction there. Unfortunately, the trail didn't actually meet up with the Lake here...only a small bog area near the outlet and the start of Hell Brook. It was around noon, when we reached this trail junction and after waiting for everyone to re-assemble and taking a decent break, we headed up to Adam's Apple. This trail again climbed aggressively but was pretty short as we reached this subpeak by 12:15PM. On the way up we got views of the Lake of the Clouds and of the rocky summit of Mt. Mansfield (the "Chin"), which laid ahead. After taking in the amazing views in all directions (it was clear enough to see the Adirondacks and Whites), we took our lunch break here.
After lunch it was time to descend off of the Adam's Apple and tackle Mansfield's impressive summit. It was nearly 12:50 when we headed down to the col and trail junction for the summit. It wasn't long before this steepened and we were scrambling up and through slits in the granite. Along the way there were wonderful views back to the Adam's Apple as well as down into the Stowe Valley. After a "harrowing" ascent in spots, we all successfully reached the open summit by 1:15PM. As expected the summit was crowded, with most people coming up from the more moderate Underhill trails. In any case the views were stunning! We took about 45 minutes up on the summit to soak up the sun and views. This couldn't have been a more perfect day.
By about 2PM we decided to start back down off of the summit and after negotiating the steep sections, we reached the trail junction again. On the way down we took the Long Trail back. By 2:45 we had reached the Taft Lodge and took another break there. There was a view back to the summit looming over the lodge here. By 3:10 we were once again back on the Long Trail and heading down the mountain. This was a much more modest trail and by 4:40 we had reached the trail head on Rt. 108. It only took another 15 minutes to reach our cars at the bottom of the notch.
On the way down we had heard from Jim who was just starting up the Hell Brook Trail and he descended to meet up with us for dinner afterwards. Back at our cars most of us headed down the road to the Matterhorn Restaurant and Bar for a nice post-hike meal (Thomas and Tim had to head back).
What an amazing day...and group! While the Hell Brook Trail was challenging, it provided the most bang for the buck...wonderful, almost constant views for a good part of the ascent! Thanks to everyone for joining me on such a great outting and welcome to a few newcomers to GO...Thomas, Joel and Mike!
There are 45 photos in Album (Note: Move mouse pointer over larger pic and click on NEXT for better viewing)