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. 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.
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.
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.
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 through the wooded area (it’s not long), then you start to climb.
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 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.
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.
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.
And even though the views are breathtaking the entire way up…the summit does not disappoint.
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.
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.
But, OOF. It’s a workout, for sure.
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.
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.
Cheers to hitting the trails…any way you can.