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Details

Distance

5 miles

Elevation Gain

2600 ft

Route Type

Out-and-Back

Description

Added by Megan Davin

Vermont’s tallest mountain Mount Mansfield stands at 4,393 feet tall. When viewed from the east or west, this mountain has the appearance of a human profile, with distinct forehead, nose, lips, chin, and Adam's apple. These features are most distinct when viewed from the east; unlike most human faces, the chin is the highest point.

For Vermont reaching the summit of Mount Mansfield is much like standing on top of the world. On a clear day there are sweeping views to the Adirondacks and Lake Champlain to the west and Mount Washington towards the east, and Canada to the north. It is the highest mountain in Vermont and gets its name because when viewed from the east its summit ridge resembles the profile of a human face. The names of its prominent features reflect this: Adams Apple (4,060'), Chin (4,393', highest point), Nose (4,062') and Forehead (3,940'). 

One of the more enjoyable parts about hiking Mount Mansfield are the opportunities to turn several hikes into loops, giving you a chance to see different scenery, but still end up at the same trailhead. 

From Underhill State Park you’ve got two options for climbing this popular mountain. The Laura Cowles Trail is short and steep, while the Sunset Ridge Trail is longer and has better views.

I elected to do the hike as loop, by going up the Laura Cowles Trail and back down the Sunset Ridge Trail. I figured I’d rather go up the steep trail than down it.

The Laura Cowles trail is a more direct route up to the chin, and branches off of the Sunset Ridge trail and rejoins it near the chin. Since it’s more direct it is steeper and much of the hike is through a forested ravine. This route is tougher, but more protected from the elements. 

For the descent I went with the scenic classic, The Sunset Ridge Trail. For a good portion of the route down you will be above the tree line. This trail has the best views of any trail on the mountain, since so much is above tree line. (This route would not be recommended during bad weather or high winds since it’s so exposed.)

Mount Mansfield is one of two places in Vermont where Arctic Tundra can be found; the other place being Camels Hump. There are about 200 acres of Arctic Tundra on Mount Mansfield.  

Be Warned: There is an auto road from Stowe Mountain Resort that goes close to the summit allowing for more people to be wandering around the ridgeline on any given weekend in the summer especially.

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