Mountain NotesUnder Construction
The 13th highest peak in Vermont, Big Jay is the second highest peak (of five over 3000 feet) in the Vermont "Jay Range". It is also one of two peaks in the range to be counted in the New England Highest Hundred club, and is the highpoint of Franklin County, ranking 9th overall in Vermont County high points. At 3786 feet, located about a mile along the west ridge from its larger and more well known neighbor Jay Peak, Big Jay is officially trailess, although a well defined herd path has been cut connecting the peak to the Long Trail.
As with the majority of trailess peaks in New England, a canister containing log entries of climbers is found at the summit. Because of it's spot in the NEHH, it recieves a fair ammount of traffic on a regular basis.
In the winter months, the very steep and trailess east face of Big Jay is one of the favorite spots in the North East for backcountry skiiing. To quote author David Goodman, "If steep and deep defines your winter passion, Big Jay will not disappoint."
Routes and Mountain ConditionsThe most common route would be climbing Jay Peak via the Long Trail from VT route 242, and taking a herd path from there.
From Burlington, VT: Driving Distance 70 miles; 1.5 hours
Go north on I-89 to Exit #19, St. Albans.
Go northeast on Route 104 to the Junction of Route 105.
Continue on 105 East to East Berkshire.
Take a right onto Route 118 South.
Follow to Montgomery Center.
Turn left onto Route 242 East and follow to crest of the ridge where the Long Trail crosses, about 1.5 miles from the Jay Peak Ski area parking lot.
On the Long Trail, heading north from the 242 parking lot, the summit of Jay Peak is reached after gaining 1700 feet in 1.7 miles. The summit of Big Jay is roughly a mile along a well traveled herd path that branches off the Long Trail, on the north side of the summit, just after the Long Trail descends back into the woods.
Conditions on the herd path vary with season. In the spring and summer, expect portions of the herd path, especially the flat spots on the ridge, to be extremely muddy. Gaiters are helpful, as in places the mud can be around 1 foot deep. There is also one section of brief steep scramble, that could present problems for pets and smaller people.
This topo map shows the ridgeline you follow SW from the Jay Peak summit.
CampingThere are multiple shelters in the vicinity due to the Long Trail running close by.
Hazen's Notch Camp 7 miles south of the Jay Peak Summit on the LT.
Jay Camp 2 miles south of the Jay Peak summit.
Laura Woodward Shelter 1.5 miles north of the Jay Peak summit on the LT.
Red TapeUse of Jay Peak Tram and chairlifts will cost you.
Hiking ski slopes and Long Trail free of charge. Camping in Long Trail shelters also free of charge.
It is my understanding that the herd path to Big Jay was cut illegally. As always, practice normal "Leave No Trace" wilderness ethics please.