Just missing out by 43 feet on being one of Vermont's coveted 4000ers, Pico Peak is the 6th highest peak in the state. With 591 feet of prominence, it also is the northernmost summit of Central Vermont's Coolidge Range
of the Green Mountains
(being part of the larger Appalachian Mountains). It's also number 71 on the list of New England's hundred highest
. It's nearest neighbor is the well-known Killington Peak
, being connected by a common north-south ridge and only 2.53 miles between.
The belief is that it was named either after the native Abenaki tribe's word for "the pass", or, "opening" (seeing that there is Sherburne Pass
on it's northern flanks) or for the Spanish word for peak. If it is the latter, the pronunciation has been changed to sound like Pie-ko by locals.
The Appalachian and Long Trails used to run on its east side until both were re-routed in 1999. The AT/LT section that remains was renamed the Sherburne Pass Trail
and is the most popular hiking route to the summit at 6.2 miles round trip.
While a very popular hiking peak, Pico is really known for its skiing. The original owner of the peak and surrounding forest was Mortimer Proctor
who allowed the Mead family to open a ski resort on Pico on Thanksgiving Day in 1937 with only a 1200 foot rope lift pulled by a Hudson car engine. The Mead family would produce double gold medal winner in skiing in the 1952 Olympics, Andrea Mead-Lawrence
. The first T-bar lift
in the US was installed here in 1940 and Proctor sold the land to Pico Ski Inc. in 1948. The ski area would blossom into a major resort called Pico Mountain
by 1987 with high speed quads and snow-making abilities. It fell on harder times though by 1996 and went into receivership until it was bought out by neighboring Killington Resort
in 1997. No runs connect the resorts though despite their close proximity. With 1967 feet of vertical drop, it is one of the longest in Vermont. 57 ski trails over 19 miles and 438 ski-able acres with 7 lifts blanket the north and northwest flanks of Pico.
Four brooks drain the peak on all sides. Kent Brook drains the northeast side, Mendon the northwest. To the southeast is Roaring Brook and to the southwest is Brewer's Brook. Ski and communications buildings cover the summit although between them all is a blue-blazed summit rock to tag. The Sherburne Pass Trail starts at Sherburne Pass on the north side of Pico on Route 4 across from the Inn at Long Trail (which itself sits under Deer Leap Rock, a popular rock climbing area). You could actually access Pico Peak from Sherburne Pass Trail, or the AT/LT which runs north from Killington towards Pico but shoots past it to the west before crossing Route 4 a bit further west that Sherburne Pass (although it would be longer and not as direct as you'd have to double back on another connecting trail). See the map on this website
for an overview of the trail system on Pico.
Pico Peak is a much beloved peak to Vermonters and still important to the economy while allowing hikers to enjoy its wooded slopes especially in early October when it glows orange with the changing leaves.
From the north (Burlington), take Route 7 south to Rutland where you pick up Route 4 east for 11 miles to Sherburne Pass and the trailhead on the south side of the road across from the Inn at Long Trail.
From the south (Springfield, MA/Hartford, CT), take Interstate 91 north to exit 6. Turn left from the off ramp onto Highway 103. Take 103 for 24 miles west to Highway 100 just after passing through Ludlow, VT. Take scenic Highway 100 north for 14 miles to Route 4 and turn left. Follow Rte 4 for 6 miles to Sherburne Pass and the trailhead on the south side of the road across from the Inn at Long Trail.
From the southeast (Boston) take Interstate 93 north to Concord, NH and pick up Interstate 89 north to Lebanon NH/White River Junction, VT where you pick up Route 4. Take 4 west about 31 miles to the Pass (and the trailhead as noted above).
Parking is free and ample with the lot being repaved only days before I posted this page. There is a register shortly into the Sherburne Pass Trail one must sign.
When To Climb
You can access this year round although in the winter, the ski runs are open except on Tuesdays and Wednesdays. Hiking is good in spring and summer but is best in early October when the leaves are changing color and the bugs are dead and the humidity is gone.
Nearest campground (and one I can vouch for as being very nice) is at Gifford Woods State Park a couple miles east of Sherburne Pass on Route 4 and north on Highway 100.
Gifford Woods State Park
Coolidge State Park
is also a bit east on 4 and then south on Highway 100.
There is a bunkhouse called Pico Camp
located .4 miles from the summit at the junction of Sherburne Pass Trail and the Pico Link. It's free with space for 12 and maintained by the Green Mountain Club.
Mountain ConditionsPico Mountain Webcam
Weather Forecast from NOAA
Green Mountain & Finger Lakes
231 North Main Street
Rutland, VT 05701