Jay Peak and Big Jay Hike
Hiking/Walk DATE: 07/12/2014 - 07/12/2014
Trip/Event Location: Jay, VT
Max # People: 15
Trip Guiding / Event Fee: No, I will not be asking participants for money
Difficulty Level: Moderate to Strenuous
Join us for change of scenery by the Canadian border hiking up these New England 100 highest peaks!
The panoramic views from the summit of Jay Peak is superb! We can buy lunch and a beer in...
The trailhead is at the very top of Vermont, near the Canadian border. It is way north of the town of St. Johnsbury, VT. To get some idea of travel, it you started from Nashua, NH it is 200 miles and it will take you 3 1/2 hours to get there. From our house in Waterville Valley, it will take 2 hours to get there.
We will be meeting at the Long Trail parking lot on Route 242. If you use a GPS, here are the parking lot coordinates in degrees and minutes:
N 44 54.768
W 72 30.241
Directions [we recommend looking at a map before leaving since there are many routes] :
- Route 93 north [into Vermont]
- Route 91 north to Exit 26
- Route 5 north [for 5.8 miles]
- Route 14 northwest [for 4.8 miles]
- Route 100 southwest [for 5.7 miles]
- Route 101 north [for 3.1 miles]
- Route 242 west [for 6.4 miles]
While carpooling is encouraged, you are responsible for your own rides. Use the comments section below to communicate with others who may be looking to share a ride. If you share a ride, be sure to share expenses.
We decided to visit 2 peaks on the New England Hundred Highest which are way up North in Vermont. So far North, they are practically in Canada! It can be a significant drive for some members so we invited everyone to stay at the house for the weekend and use it as a launching pad. Jim and Richard took us up on the offer. From our house, it was a two hour drive.
Jay Peak lies along the Long Trail and is one of the finest high peaks of Vermont. The Jay Peak ski area blasted half the summit off to build a summit building on it so they could install a Tram. Regardless, it still has an open, rocky summit offering fine views in all directions, and is a pretty short hike of 1.7 miles and about 1,650 feet of elevation gain [one-way].
It's little brother, Big Jay, lies less than a mile away, but is not officially trailed. However, there is a herd path from near the summit of Jay Peak that leads directly to the summit of Big Jay that once upon a time was cleared with chainsaws. Not signed or maintained in any way, the herd path can still be easily be followed, though renown for its mud pits.
Our group of 7 hit the trail around 10:30 despite a planned start of 10. Good thing the day was supposed to be a short one and it was summer, with lots of daylight left!
The climb started under sunny skies and low humidity. The trail was wonderful down low. Good footing, steady but not steep grades, and we ended up making quick work of the climb. We never even really noticed the elevation gain, and before long we were at stairs to help us get over a snowmaking pipeline. We met many hikers on their way down during our ascent. No one else had gone past the summit of Jay Peak to our knowledge.
Here, three of our group turned and walked up the ski slope. The rest of us crossed the ski trail and continued using the Long Trail to reach the summit. In short order, we reached the summit after some scrambling. Views were spectacular! We went inside the summit building cafeteria for lunch where most of us had already brought our own sandwiches. Jon and I had to have a cold Jay Peak Tram Ale to drink along with our sandwiches.
After lunch, Fred and Jeff decided to turn around while the rest of us continued south on the Long Trail. We headed down the other side of the mountain, following the white blazes down a ski slope for a short distance. A steep one! There were some nice wildflowers on the ski slopes.
From the ski slope, the Long Trail turns through a boundary fence, and enters the woods. Very shortly on this stretch, an obvious herd path diverges left while the Long Trail goes straight. This herd path takes you to Big Jay.
However, said herd path is overgrown in spots, had a few blowdowns at the start, [not a big deal, and a fact of life with herd paths] and quickly gets muddy. We spent time tip-toeing around massive mud bogs [bushwhacking around the herd path]. About halfway, Jim B. had enough and decided to turn around. The rest of us continued and eventually reached the summit of Big Jay.
We got our picture taken by the litter basket. With a few bugs hanging out we took a quick u-turn., navigating back through the "swamps" where we met Jim who decided to wait for us because he was unsure which way to go. We returned back to the summit of Jay Peak.
We refilled our water bottles and knew we had a two hour drive to get home so we made good time on the descent. The descent was uneventful, said our goodbyes to Jim and headed back home. At the house, Jon grilled up a delicious lime chicken, sausage, green beans and pita bread. For sides we had cucumber salad, cole slaw and a garden salad. As we were eating, we enjoyed watching a full moon rise from behind the clouds.
Jay Peak is a great hike, just a looooong way for a really short hike. Don't bother with Big Jay unless you think you are going to do the New England 100 Highest! It's probably best to make it a camping weekend when doing a hike up to Jay Peak alone and be able to check out what the area has to offer.
A big thanks to everyone for making it such an enjoyable hike!
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