Hike Mt. Mansfield via the Long Trail
Vermont › Mt. Mansfield Long Trail Trailhead
Added by Shannon Kalahan
Earn your bragging rights by highest peak in Vermont with a summit elevation of 4393 feet. The views above alpine in the Green Mountains are spectacular and this one of the few places in Vermont to see Arctic Tundra flora and conditions.
There are several options to reach the summit of Mount Mansfield. The Toll Road (which, appropriately, has a toll to use it), the Laura Cowles trail, the Sunset Ridge trail, Haselton Trail, the Hellbrook Trail… The most popular trail from the east side of the mountain, however, is the section of the Long Trail that I hiked. Starting at approximately 1600 feet of elevation, the trail head looks like a deceivingly easy jaunt through the woods. It doesn’t take long to get the heart pumping though. With only 2.4 miles to climb about 2800 feet of elevation, the trail is comprised primarily of natural staircases with just a few flat tracks to catch your breath. The last third of a mile, after you cross into alpine, you begin rock scrambling. There are even a few sections of easy climbing with established handholds.
Basically, if you hate your knees, this trail is for you. Haha
Mt. Mansfield is the highest mountain in Vermont, and one of only 3 places in the state that has Alpine Tundra. The trails are also some of the most popular in the state, so the potential for damage to the fragile ecosystem is high. It is very important to do the “rock walk” above the tree line, staying on the rocks to avoid trampling the delicate flora.
Although this is a day hike (it took me 4.5 hours total to do approximately 4.8 miles and I am a slow hiker), there is an option to stay at a lodge 0.6 miles from the summit. While there is a water source and outhouse outside of the lodge, all supplies (aka toilet paper, portable stove) need to be packed in and out. The Taft Lodge is part of the Green Mountain Club’s system, and there is an overnight fee.
Before you hike, make sure to check the weather and give yourself plenty of daylight for the hike. The view at the top is worth lingering for. If you’re of age, a summit beer never hurts. ;-)
If you intend to hike in the winter, be prepared for harsh conditions. Proper winter gear will be required. Also, there are definitely bears in the area (one was spotted at the lodge the week I was hiking) so be prepared for that.
- Hiking poles
- Lots of water and snacks
- Toilet paper
- Camera and tripod
- Basic first aid kit
- Layers, as the weather on the exposed summit can be unpredictable
- Emergency whistle and a way to map the trail (service is spotty on the summit)
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Camping, Hiking, Photography, Rock Climbing
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An alternative ascent is to take the Stowe gondola. It takes you about 2/3 of the way up the mountain and from there it is a short but steep scramble up large boulders and rocks to the top on a well marked trail. When you reach the top you join with the Long Trail and it is a short distance to the summit. We hiked the Long Trail down to the bottom and then it was a short walk along the road to reach the parking lot where we had started near the gondola.
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