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Bethlehem, New Hampshire, United States
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You are invited to also take a look at another Blog of mine which is entitled: "2 SMALL 2B BIG". (Click HERE.)

03 July 2014

My First Hike to Mt. Mansfield: Vermont's Tallest Mountain

INTRODUCTION:

Recently, I spent a few days hiking to various locations near Stowe, VT.  One of my many adventures included a hike to Mt. Mansfield.  It is one of the numerous peaks in the Green Mountains which form the spine of Vermont by running south to north through much of the State.  Standing at 4,393 ft above sea level, Mt. Mansfield is the highest mountain in VT.

Especially when viewed from the east, Mt. Mansfield's summit ridgeline resembles the profile of an elongated human face.  The facial features have been named as follows (from south to north): Forehead (3,940'); Nose (4,062'); Chin (4,393', highest point); Adams Apple (4,060').  These features are labeled on the following photo which was taken from Stowe Pinnacle on the day following my trek to Mt. Mansfield.
Labeled "facial features" of Mt. Mansfield's ridgeline
For about 2.3 miles (from the Forehead to the Adams Apple) the ridgeline is almost entirely above treeline.  It's the longest stretch of alpine zone in Vermont.  And actually, Mt. Mansfield is one of only three spots in the State where true alpine tundra survives from the Ice Ages.  Camel's Hump and Mount Abraham are the other two.

Mt. Mansfield is used for various recreational and commercial purposes.  Located on "The Nose" are transmitter towers for a number of regional radio and TV stations. There are several hiking trails on this mountain, including the Long Trail, which traverses the main ridgeline. The east flank of the mountain is used by the Stowe Mountain Resort for alpine skiing.  And, there is a toll road which enables you to drive from the Stowe Base Lodge to "The Nose".  The road is steep, mostly unpaved, and has several hairpin turns.

MY HIKE:

As indicated in the title of this report, this was the first time I'd ever hiked to Mt. Mansfield.  My route of travel consisted of a loop of about 6.5 miles which included a traverse of Mt. Mansfield's ridge from "The Nose" to "The Chin", plus a short side trip to Adams Apple.  The loop involved the Haselton Trail and the Long Trail (northbound) to Rt. 108, then a 0.5 mile road walk back to my starting point.
The route of my loop hike is highlighted in yellow (click to enlarge)
The Haselton Trail provides a lot of diversity.  It ascends steadily through an attractive forest with numerous crossings of small streams.  At the upper end of the trail, it joins the Nose Dive ski trail for a short distance before eventually intersecting the Auto Road which is used to hike the remaining 0.5 mile to "The Nose".

From "The Nose", the Long Trail can be followed either north or south.  For my loop, I used the northbound segment of the trail to hike along Mt. Mansfield's ridgeline.  The portion of the Long Trail between "The Nose" and "Adams Apple" is simply stunning!  For readers who are familiar with New Hampshire hiking, it is comparable to trekking along the Franconia Ridge.

Although the Long Trail itself doesn't go over "Adams Apple", it's definitely worthwhile to take the 0.1 mile spur trail that will lead you there.

Before showing some photos taken during my hike, here are some brief thoughts about the loop that I did.  Without going into excruciating detail, I feel that a strong case could be made for doing this loop either clockwise or counterclockwise.  Personally, I'm very content with having done it clockwise.  If for no other reason, I enjoyed the more pristine view while hiking northbound along the ridge.  If hiking southbound,  the transmitter towers on "The Nose" would be visible for much of the time and would mar the view (at least for me it would).

Shown below are some snapshots taken during my Mt. Mansfield loop hike.  If you're interested in seeing photos from 5 other hikes that I did while in the Stowe area, they are contained in a separate report (click HERE). 
Most of the Haselton Trail is a wooded corridor.  This photo shows a segment known as the Knife's Edge.
A portion of Mt. Mansfield ridgeline as viewed from upper end of Haselton Trail. Seen in the distance are the Cliff House and "The Chin".
Smuggler's Notch as viewed from upper end of Haselton Trail
Looking west from the portion of the Long Trail that runs along Mt. Mansfield's ridgeline. Through the haze on distant horizon, can just barely make out Lake Champlain.  There are very faint outlines of Adirondack peaks beyond the lake.
Looking southward down the Mt. Mansfield ridgeline toward "The Nose" which has been pierced with antennae jewelry!
Nearing final climb to "The Chin"
"The Chin" is a favorite hang-out spot for hikers!
Peering over edge of "The Chin" before starting steep descent toward "Adams Apple". VT also has a body of water named Lake of the Clouds. It's seen just left of center.  At far right is "Adams Apple" with its large patches of exposed rock on top.
Photo was taken early into the steep descent from "The Chin", before the real action began!
A particularly challenging spot along the Long Trail between "The Chin" and "Adams Apple". It's probably about an 8 ft vertical drop, but there are enough hand/foot holds to negotiate it with care. (Photo taken from base of this 'chimney-like' formation after having slithered down it!)
Looking back at "The Chin" from "Adams Apple" before beginning the long and wooded descent to Rt. 108
And to sum it up, it's worthy to mention that Steve Smith has posted a terrific narrative and photos about a trek that he and his wife Carol did from "The Nose" to "The Chin" about 2-weeks prior to my trek.  I would encourage you to check out his report by clicking HERE.

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