South Mountain is the primary mountain in the Bristol Cliffs Wilderness Area in central Vermont. A trailless wilderness, South Mountain is the located just south of the town of Bristol, Vermont. The forest is composed mostly of northern hardwoods, with the top containing a small concentration of conifers including hemlock and red spruce. Two ponds, North and Gilmore ponds, are located in the wilderness, and can be accessed with a compass and/or GPS. In addition to endless trailblazing, the mountain hosts a very steep cliff on it's western slope (hence, Bristol CLIFFS Wilderness). Although the grade of the slope is worthy of rock climbing, the quality is very poor (choss and dirt). However, once temperatures drop below freezing, the cliff comes alive with ice climbing possibilities. The main face offers at least 3 lines to the top, each between 2 and 3 pitches. Various other gullies have the potential to fill with ice as well, depending on the winter.
Hiking access is afforded by travelling south on VT 116 (if coming from the north). Take a left onto Lincoln Gap road, and follow for approx. 3 miles. There will be signs for the wilderness area on your left, directing you to the parking area.
For climbing access, go south at the stoplight in Bristol (left if coming from the north), and follow for about three miles, veering left when the road forks at around 2 miles. The cliff will rise up to your left. There is no parking on the road, making access rather difficult. One must befriend land/home-owners and see if they mind you parking near or on their property (sometimes a fiver helps sweeten the deal).
Climbing access is difficult. Please respect landowners' rights and privacy. Also, this is a wilderness area, so no power tools, speedboats, or helicopters are allowed.
No established campsites in the wilderness area, but you can pitch a tent for up to 14 days per USFS guidelines.
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