Vermont Highpoint, Mt Mansfield Via Longs Trail
We left after class on a Friday and were up and ready to go early the next morning we chose to take the Long trail South and were not disappointed. We only went to the Highpoint itself (the Chin) and didn't continue along the trail to the rest of the face profile. Mt Mansfield is commonly referred to by these terms, the picture below can show you a little clearer what they mean as the "face" isn't exactly easily recognizable. The longs trail passes just to the left of the Adams apple on this picture and heads straight for the chin. If you choose to do the whole Face it is a quick detour from the trail to the Adams Apple then up to the Chin as I will talk about here and then it adds about another 2 miles above treeline to pick up the Nose and the Forehead. This could be a really fun hike, but it just wasn't in the game plan for us this time. Maybe in the future I will head back and pick up the rest of the mountain.
Profile of Mount Mansfield
For us on our hike it was about 2.3 miles one way or about 4.6 miles of roundtrip hiking. It was early in the season so the trail was still partially snow covered but still easy to hike with normal hiking boots. We started off from the Long Trail South Trailhead and meandered through some very well defined and easy elevation for quite some time. It was still pretty warm so T-shirts were fine and there were already some wildflowers starting to blossom even though it was still only May. Though the views are not very scenic down low on the mountain there are a few bubbly brooks running near the trail and the trail itself is very well marked and maintained. There is not much elevation gain for the first mile or so and after that the trail gets progressively steeper for much of the rest of the climb. At about 1 mile in we also started to hit our first patches of snow on the trail. This made the going a little slower but nothing that was too hard to handle, (although I wish I had brought my waterproof boots!). The trails climbs steadily from here to the Taft lodge where there is an outhouse and running water to refill if you need it. We stopped briefly to eat some snacks and then kept heading up. The Taft lodge is a pretty cool place if you want to spend the night though. It sleeps up to 24. There is a whole system of these lodges and other shelters and overnight sites along the Longs trail if you wanted to turn this into a multi night backpacking trip without carrying your own tent.
Snow on Longs Trail near the Summit
From the Lodge there is only about .3 miles of hiking left to go but this is where the trail starts to get really steep. If you add in a little bit of snow and ice it can get a bit treacherous. I wouldn't say that it is really dangerous but it is definitely a spot to slow down and make sure your footing is good or you may be in for a bad day.
We made the top at just before noon and took a few pictures but with clouds in the sky and it threatening to rain on us we didn't stay for long and made our way back to the trailhead. Some people chose to continue hiking along the ridge to the top of Stowe Mountain Ski resort and take the Gondola down, but to me that feels like cheating (it's also really expensive from what I hear) so I preferred to hike my way down. Kim and I's legs were starting to get tired about half of the way down and Kim actually took a tumble. Note to self: do not laugh at Kim when she falls, she will not be happy about it for quite a while. O well, lesson learned I guess. The rest of the descent was uneventful and we made our way back to the B&B for some well deserved hot tub time and then out to dinner to fill our bellies.
If you want to read more about this trip with more picutres swing by my Bog Here to see the full post and read about my other highpointing adventures. http://outdooroutlier.blogspot.com/2015/04/mt-mansfield-and-other-vt-highpointing.html
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