The Vermont 4000 Footers in a Day

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Trip Report
Vermont, United States, North America
Date Climbed/Hiked:
Aug 3, 2015
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The Vermont 4000 Footers in a Day
Created On: Aug 12, 2015
Last Edited On: Aug 12, 2015

The Green Mountain Challenge

I'm going to preface this by admitting I did not rise to my own challenge.  HOWEVER, I'm positive it can be safely done.  Vermont has five peaks over 4,000 feet.  In many places throughout the Northeast it's possible to summit five or more such mountains in about half a day.  I wrote a trip report for just such a hike in the Adirondacks a couple years ago.  Vermont is a bit different though.  The southern most peak, Killington, is nearly a two hour drive from the northern most, Mansfield.  Not to mention only two of the peaks can be climbed in tandem, the rest are single accents requiring a lot of hopping in and out of the car.  As far as I know, this type of thing isn't an "official" challenge like Nolan's Run in Colorado or the Devil's Path in the Catskills, so maybe we can make it one right here on summit post!  So lets go!

Green Mountain Road Trip
Green Mountain Road Trip

The Challenge
You can probably guess where this is going.  Starting at either Mansfield or Killington, you must bag all five peaks in a single day.  I started this journey from Central New York, meaning I did not get to Killington's trailhead until about 10am.  By the time I came down from my third peak of the day it was just past five.  I'm sure I could have completed the challenge, but had no interest of doing so in the dark.  Starting at around 5am should make this challenge both rewarding and a lot of fun.  Here's how I did!

Mount Killington

The Quick Way up Killington
The Quick Way up Killington
The Long Trail on Mount Killington
The Long Trail on Mount Killington
Killington is the second tallest summit in the state, but like all but one summit you will conquer, it's highly developed by ski resorts and mountain biking trails. The development ruins the serenity, but it makes for a quick and steep climb.  The best way to climb Killington is to take the most direct route up, following the main ski lift up a leg-busting 1,600 feet in just 1.1 miles.  I do not recommend taking this way down.  The trail is overgrown and difficult to find your footing.  It is a beautiful view for your effort.  Take note of the Long Trail that crosses over the summit.

Summit of Killington
Summit of Killington

Killington has an odd color-letter route system that you can follow back down.  All in all, the trip was about a 3.3 miles and took me about an hour and a half.  Not bad for a high peak.

Mount Abraham and Ellen

You got to hit the road! Take VT 100 and snake your way to Sugarbush ski resort.  It takes a bit over an hour from Killington.

I approached this ascent wrong!  After my success climbing Killington with breakneck speed up the ski lift, I thought Abe and El could be done the same.  Despite being lower than Killington, there is well over 2,400 feet of elevation gain between the two climbs.  I took on a lift lane that was under construction, only to find that after a brutally long ascent, I was only 70% of the way up; I was not pleased.  The rest of the climb was on utility roads and finally back to the Long Trail. 

Summit of Mount Abraham
Summit of Mount Abraham

Abraham offered sensational views of the Green Mountains to the North and the Adirondacks to the West, right across from Lake Champlain.  It was breathtaking, but like all challenges that involve a race against time, I could only linger for a few moments.  Turning right around, Ellen can be reached by following the ridge from Abraham North.  Ellen was neither fun, nor beautiful.  The trudge to Ellen felt long and claustrophobic, only to reach a mostly wooded summit with the only clearing being the top of a ski lift not too far off the route.

Summit of Ellen
Summit of Ellen

I wasn't too tore up about having to leave.  By the time I made my way to the foot of Abraham I would see the sun starting to move down rapidly; it's about a 10 mile round trip between these two peaks.  I knew I could take on Camel's Hump in good time and have a great view of the sunset, but I would end taking on Mansfield in the dark.  I decided to cut my losses and head to Burlington for a beer.

Camel's Hump, Mansfield, and Your Turn!

I would love to see someone else tear this challenge up, so here's my tips:

  • Camp out near Killington or Mansfield the night before and take off at first light; you'll need every bit of time you can get.
  • Utilize the ski lift lanes for Killington and Mansfield on the ascent.  
  • Don't speed on the road!  There's really no need if you're a strong hiker
  • Go South to North so you can get a beer in Burlington ;)

I'll let you know how attempt two goes.  For more challenges, trip reports, adventure book reviews and more, check out my blog!

Ramble on! Cheers.


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nartreb - Aug 16, 2015 3:15 pm - Hasn't voted

How many peaks?

"Vermont has five peaks over 4,000 feet."

That's a common misconception. The Nose of Mt Mansfield meets the AMC's criteria for being a 4000-footer (not just reaching 4000', but having 200' of prominence), but was left off the AMC's list due to a cartographic error.

Adding the Nose to your challenge shouldn't add a lot of difficulty, since you'll be on Mt Mansfield early or late enough to avoid the crowds as you race along the spectacular trail on top of the ridge. You may also be interested to know that there's an old trail up the north side of the Nose that would make a useful shortcut.


Sjboatwright - Sep 21, 2015 4:25 pm - Hasn't voted

Re: How many peaks?

Thanks! That totally missed my research! I think you're right though, that still seems doable with the nose.



Jow - Aug 17, 2015 8:57 pm - Hasn't voted

Cool idea

I like the idea. What would be the minimum hiking distance all together. My calc was 27 miles hiking and 3hrs driving or so. But I could be off on that as not super familiar with all the peaks


Sjboatwright - Sep 21, 2015 4:29 pm - Hasn't voted

Re: Cool idea

Using the ski trails, my count is just over 20 miles. Not toooooo sure about the drive, but I think you're correct at about three hours.

I'm going to try again in a couple weeks and update the numbers.



Gratton89 - Jun 3, 2018 5:41 pm - Hasn't voted

Got her done!

Hey Sjboatwright,

Did the challenge last weekend and will write a trip report and post the link below. The low down is 21 miles, 10,000' of elevation gain. 11 hours of hiking and 3.5 hours of driving detween trailheads. We started at 4:30am on killington and finished at 7pm at the car at the base of hellbrook trail.


Will repost soon

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