Hiking The Long Trail In Stowe, VT, With Kids (Hint: Only Do The Nose-to-Chin)

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The Long Trail in Northern Vermont is a pretty storied trail. It’s 272 miles long, stretching from the Vermont-Massachusetts border up to Canada, and is the oldest long-distance hiking trail in the US (older, even, than the Appalachian trail!). While it would take roughly a month to do the whole thing (the total elevation gain is a whopping 66,000 feet), there are some pretty epic day hikes along the way.

One such day hike? A 2.8-mile out-and-back hike on Mount Mansfield, where you basically hike along the ridge, starting roughly at what locals call “the Nose” until you summit at “the Chin.”

We love this hike because the entire way is…allllll glorious payoff.

Grab Your Hiking Pack & Boots: We’re Hitting (Part Of) The Long Trail In Vermont

If you are a Very Serious Hiker, you might enjoy the longer route that starts from Smuggler's Notch. You'll have to realllly work for those views.

If you are a Very Serious Hiker, you might enjoy the longer route that starts from Smuggler’s Notch. You’ll have to realllly work for those views. But us? We have a Pax. And while he is a joy, it’s turns out that his legs ONLY work if we are hiking something rather death-defying.

Scrambling over boulders, leaping off cliffs, fording fjords — Pax is your guy.

The Long Trail hike in Northern Vermont is less uphill walking, more...bouldering — scrambling over boulders, leaping off cliffs, fording fjords.

But if there’s anything that resembles “walking calmly uphill,” the dude is OUT. Nothing brings out the whiner in Pax like a perfectly safe, enjoyable hike.

This hike is less uphill walking, more…bouldering.

The biggest downside of the Long Trail hike in VT is the fact that you have to pay to drive up to the trailhead, & the cost is pretty steep: $29/car & driver, + an additional $11/person inside the car. The fees go toward maintaining the trails, though, & help keep crowds away.

To get to the trailhead of this hike, you have to basically drive to the top of Mount Mansfield, via the toll road at the ski resort. Which is always a kick for us — it’s wild to see the runs we ski all winter overgrown with green (they’re unrecognizable).

The biggest downside of this hike is the fact that you have to pay to drive up to the trailhead, and the cost is pretty steep: $29 per car and driver, plus an additional $11 per person inside the car. The fees go toward maintaining the trails, though, and help keep crowds away. We love doing this hike as early as possible in the morning but have started as late as noon, and it still wasn’t horribly packed (at least not by Philadelphia standards).

Despite the cost, this hike is 100% worth it, with 360-degree views from almost every point. Even the drive up to the trailhead is exciting!! We’re talking twists and turns and cliffs right next to you…it requires the driver to focus.

Despite the cost, the Long Trail hike is 100% worth it, with 360-degree views from almost every point. Even the drive up to the trailhead is exciting! We're talking twists & turns & cliffs right next to you.

Strenuous But Rewarding: The Long Trail Hike In Vermont

Once you get up to the trailhead, the hike starts off calmly enough. But even then, there are some streams and planks and things to keep it interesting.

Once you get up to the trailhead of the Long Trail, the hike starts off calmly enough. But even then, there are some streams & planks & things to keep it interesting.

similar jacket (S) | leggings (S) | boots | backpack

Once you get through the wooded area (it’s not long), then you start to climb.

Once you get through the wooded area (it's not long) of Northern Vermont's Long Trail, then you start to climb.

Raines’ jacket | backpack

The weather is always more extreme this high, but on this particular day, despite the intense sun, it was bizarrely cold for July — and WINDY. Poor Pax, who insisted on wearing his swim trunks (no clue why), was freezing.

The weather is always more extreme this high on the Long Trail, but on this particular day, despite the intense sun, it was bizarrely cold for July — & WINDY.

Raines’ jacket | backpack | boots

The coolest part was when Raines realized that we were walking right past an area he had actually skied. Frankly, it looked like a tree-filled cliff, and I got why he came home that day so pumped up. This vantage point was one I would never have seen in the winter — I definitely don’t ski like that kid — so it was pretty special that he got to share it with us.

The coolest part was when my son Raines realized that we were walking right past an area he had actually skied. Frankly, it looked like a tree-filled cliff, & I got why he came home that day so pumped up.

But this hike is definitely challenging, definitely strenuous. There’s rock scrambling and walking along skinny, cliffside trails…but the entire time, you have the most incredible views.

The Long Trail hike in Vermont is definitely challenging + strenuous. There's rock scrambling & walking along skinny, cliffside trails...but the entire time, you have the most incredible views.
The Long Trail in Vermont is the oldest long-distance hiking path in the US, & it has epic day adventures along the way. Strap on your boots + load up your pack — time to explore.
The Long Trail in Vermont is the oldest long-distance hiking path in the US, & it has epic day adventures along the way. Strap on your boots + load up your pack — time to explore.
The Long Trail in Vermont is the oldest long-distance hiking path in the US, & it has epic day adventures along the way. Strap on your boots + load up your pack — time to explore.
The Long Trail in Vermont is the oldest long-distance hiking path in the US, & it has epic day adventures along the way. Strap on your boots + load up your pack — time to explore.
The Long Trail in Vermont is the oldest long-distance hiking path in the US, & it has epic day adventures along the way. Strap on your boots + load up your pack — time to explore.

Pax’s jacket | backpack

Once you get high enough, you’re in an alpine-tundra region. It’s a pretty cool ecosystem, and we even spotted some alpine blueberries.

Once you get high enough on the Long Trail, you're in an alpine-tundra region. It's a cool ecosystem, & we even spotted some alpine blueberries.
The Long Trail in Vermont is the oldest long-distance hiking path in the US, & it has epic day adventures along the way. Strap on your boots + load up your pack — time to explore.

And even though the views are breathtaking the entire way up…the summit does not disappoint.

Even though the views are breathtaking the entire way up...the Long Trail summit does not disappoint.
The Long Trail in Vermont is the oldest long-distance hiking path in the US, & it has epic day adventures along the way. Strap on your boots + load up your pack — time to explore.
The Long Trail in Vermont is the oldest long-distance hiking path in the US, & it has epic day adventures along the way. Strap on your boots + load up your pack — time to explore.

We actually hung out at the top for a while. I had packed a little thermos picnic and homemade cookies, so we were all pretty happy.

We actually hung out at the top of the Long Trail for a while. I'd packed a little thermos picnic + homemade cookies, so we were all pretty happy.
Awwww…how cute is MikeD with his mismatched socks!
Of course, once you've rested & eaten (& mayyyyybe had a little nap), the only issue is that you have to make it back down the Long Trail.

Of course, once you’ve rested and eaten, and mayyyyybe had a little nap (Pax still claims he didn’t fall asleep), the only issue is that you have to make it back down.

Which…fine.

Getting back down the Long Trail hike is...oof...a workout, for sure.

But, OOF. It’s a workout, for sure.

The Long Trail in Vermont is the oldest long-distance hiking path in the US, & it has epic day adventures along the way. Strap on your boots + load up your pack — time to explore.

As a little reward, we usually end our big hike at Idletyme Brewing Company. Great atmosphere, food (get the dry-rub wings with sriracha dipping sauce) and beer. The beer flight — served on a wooden ski — is especially fun.

As a little reward, we usually end our big hike at Idletyme Brewing Co. Great atmosphere, food (get the dry-rub wings with sriracha dipping sauce) & beer. The beer flight — served on a wooden ski — is especially fun.

Pax is not amused. This set of photos is actually from last summer (It’s literally taken me a YEAR to pull together this article), and the kid hadn’t yet learned about Idletyme’s epic nonalocholic cocktails. Anyway, we repeated that exact day this summer…

And now he knows.

Idletyme Brewing Co. has an epic selection of nonalcoholic cocktails, perfect for kids wanting some fun drinks on a hot day.

Cheers to hitting the trails…any way you can.

xo,
S

7 COMMENTS

  1. I LOVE a good hiking post! Adding this hike to our family’s list. P.S. you should check out some of the hikes in Shenandoah National Park. It’s less than a 5-hiur drive from Philly and so so so beautiful.

  2. We hiked today in the old growth forest in Grayling, MI. The trail was just fine, the air smelled of crisp pine, and the weather was beautiful (high 60s, gotta love MI). However, we had a 1:1 ratio of twenty steps/whining. The hubby and I had a serious discussion about whether we give in and put us all out of our misery by returning to the car, or push through and WE WIN but um…win what? Ugh. It’s so annoying sometimes.

    I hiked in vuori sweats and they were comfy, but I found myself wanting something a little more structured for a long walk (of course it didn’t turn out to be very long walk – yep we lost the battle).

  3. We were there this past May and hiked to the top of the toll road. It was still closed to vehicles but we took advantage of the 90 degree weather (which is crazy for May). It was so fun to hike where we ski!

  4. I hiked this trail from the bottom via the long trail last October in a quest for 5 state high peaks in 10 days. Mt. Mansfield was my first. I am jealous of your day at the top as my day was cloudy and drizzly and also I started very late so it was pretty much nightfall by the time I hit the parking lot by the gift shop. Andddd had to walk all the way down in the dark on the road you drove up. LOL

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