Jay Peak is best known as the home of its namesake ski resort
. It is also home to Vermont's Long Trail with travels the length of the state. Being the last significant peak before the Canadian border it is something of a final milestone to long distance thruhikers. To Northbounders coming from Massachussetss it is the last psychological barrier although there are still a few mountains ahead. To the Southbounder it is the first large peak.
The mountain is heavily forested except for the ski slopes. Its summit is rocky and surrounded by stunted trees. Although below treeline, one gets the impression it isn't below that line by much. Views from the mountain are extraordinary. Next to the rocky summit is the Jay Peak tramway so don't come to this mountain looking for a pristine backcountry experience.
During the winter, water laden air from the Great Lakes to the west results in some of the biggest snowfalls in the East. That is great for skiers and snowboarders but not so much for a hiker/backpacker/snowshoer hit by an unexpected storm.
Deep, unbroken snow especially on the north side of the mountain will make the trail very difficult to follow. There are few blazes as guides through the woods. To the south locals with snowboards and skis can be counted on to break trail from Jay Pass to the summit - at least until the lifts start working.
If there is a "snow situation" developing, don't plunge on without considering your ability to get back out again.
Jay Peak is home to the ski resort of the same name and as such they rightly expect money from people using the lifts and tram, otherwise there are no permits, fees, or other red tape. The shelters are first come, first served.
Due to the ski area and steep slopes there really isn't any camping right around Jay Peak.
There are two GMC shelters on the Long Trail in the vicinity.
Hazen's Notch Camp 7 miles south of the summit on the LT.
Jay Camp 2 miles south of the summit on the Jay Loop.
Laura Woodward Shelter 1.5 miles north of the summit on the LT.
The Long Trail is a long distance backcountry hiking trail. It begins (or ends) at the Massachusettes state line in the south and continues north to the Canadian border. The LT is approximately 270 miles long.
The US has a well organized and active long distance community and this path sees lots of use by backpackers. About 70 people per year successfully complete the LT and become End to Enders. The southernmost 100 miles is also part of the more famous Appalachian Trail.
For more information on the mountains along the trails please visit:
Long Trail Mountains
For more information on the organizations behind the trails please visit:
Green Mountain Club and LT website
Carbohydrate replacement therapy
You're back at the trailhead and your thoughts naturally turn to food and drink. Where do you go?
There is not much of anything in Jay so I recommend going over Jay Pass on 242 toward Montgomery.
My highest recommendation goes to Snowshoe Lodge and Pub
for having excellent food, drink, atmosphere, staff, and owner. The rooms are nice too. If you are in town for a few days this is the place you will get familiar with quick.
Other good spots to feed are:
The Belfry Restaurant on 242 (pub food) reportedly well liked.
Trout River Traders in Montgomery has good sandwiches and homemade soups.