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22 August 2012

Mt. Hunger: A Craving for Another Taste of Vermont

Have you ever been undecided as to where to hike?  On 21-August-2012, I was having trouble making a decision about a hiking venue.  Having just completed a trek to Camel's Hump a few days prior,  I still had Vermont on my mind.  So, after considering several options, I decided that a trip to Mt. Hunger would be a great way to satisfy my lingering appetite to experience more of Vermont hiking!   Plus, it would be another adventure that was new to me!

As to how Mt. Hunger got its name, one explanation is that it comes from a legend about a group of hunters on the mountain who came home very hungry after having killed only one quail to share among themselves.

Mt. Hunger is located in the Worcester Range, which is the impressive wall of mountains that parallels Rt. 100 from Waterbury northward past Stowe and up to Morrisville.  The map snippet presented below shows some of the many peaks in this range that can be reached by hiking trails.  Included on this map are:  Worcester Mtn. (3,293'); Hogback Mtn. (3,505'); Stowe Pinnacle (2,651'); Mt Hunger (3,538'); White Rock Mtn. (3,194').
Map showing some hiking trails and peaks in the Worcester Range

Don't let the relatively small size of these mountains fool you!  Some trails to these peaks gain over 2000 feet of elevation in 2 miles.  And such was the case with my Mt. Hunger trek via the Waterbury Trail which gains nearly 2,300 ft of elevation over about a 2-mile distance.  Plus, there were a few hundred more feet of elevation gained during a side-trip I took to White Rock Mountain.  My route for the entire trek is highlighted in pink on the map shown above.

The Waterbury Trail was generally in good shape.  However, somewhere at about the midway point of the trek,  there is evidence that Tropical Storm Irene might have been responsible for deeply eroding some short segments of trail.  There are a few short re-routes at some of the more heavily damaged areas.

The upper part of the trail has some ledges that are moderately challenging.  And the summit of Mt. Hunger has much more exposed rock than I thought it would.  The next photo is looking upwards toward the rocky summit.
Rocky summit of Mt. Hunger
There is a 360 degree vista from the summit of Mt. Hunger.  And, along with other peaks in the Worcester Range, Mt. Hunger is well-positioned to allow for terrific views of Camel's Hump, Mt. Mansfield and many other high peaks in the Green Mountain Range.  The next series of snapshots show some of those westward-looking vistas.
Far left (ledges on White Rock Mtn); Center (Camel's Hump); Right of center (Waterbury Reservoir)

Mt. Mansfield in center of photo
Yet another view toward Camel's Hump (center of photo) from Mt. Hunger

Besides the nearby westward views of peaks in the Green Mountains, there are more distant views to east looking toward the White Mountains of New Hampshire.  However, on this particular day, the viewing conditions were hazy.  Therefore, in the next photo, you can just barely see the White Mountains on the horizon.
Eastward view toward White Mountains of New Hampshire

At the outset of this hike, I was uncertain if I'd take the time to do the side-trip over to White Rock Mountain.  However, even after a long visit atop Mt. Hunger, there was still plenty of time left in the day.  And so, off I went to White Rock!

I don't know the exact amount, but there are several hundred feet of elevation that are lost on the short trek over to White Rock.  And, to return to your awaiting car back at the trailhead, you must regain that elevation, regardless of whether you do an out-and-back (as I did), or do a loop back over Mt. Hunger (see map at beginning of this report).

The trail over to White Rock is lightly traveled, and in many spots there are "enchanted woods" such as shown below.
Enchanted woods along the trail to White Rock Mountain

I was unaware that the final sprint to the top of White Rock involved hiking a 0.15 mile spur trail.  Although I used the word "hiking", it's more like one humungous scramble up steep ledges and a few other challenging (but fun) rock structures.  Regardless, the next photo shows the trail junction where the spur trail begins.  Also visible in this photo is the rocky summit of Mt. Hunger.
Starting point for spur to White Rock, plus rocky summit of Mt. Hunger at upper right

My main concern was negotiating the steep scrambles up and down White Rock Mountain, and as a result, I totally forgot to take any snapshots.  However, even if I had done so, the photos likely would have lacked all sense of drama without the perspective of a human body climbing them!

From the summit of White Rock, I did remember to take a snapshot looking back at Mt. Hunger (next photo).
Mt. Hunger as seen from White Rock Mountain

The trek back to the trailhead was uneventful.  However, as I was coming within view of the parking lot, I saw an obvious side-trail heading northward.  Since I still had plenty of time, it simply had to be investigated!  The trail didn't go very far.  It led to an old quarry where there was an interesting overlook.   Shown in the next photo is the bottom of the quarry where there is an intriguing placement of rocks.   As to the purpose of these rocks, your guess is as good as mine!
Old quarry with interesting placement of rocks

After my brief foray to the old quarry, I jumped into my car and headed down the gravel road leading to the trailhead.  I hadn't gone too far when I caught site of Camel's Hump starring me in the face.  And so, I pulled to the side of the road and took the snapshot that is shown below.
Camel's Hump as viewed from the road to Waterbury Trail

To sum it up, this adventure was another delicious taste of Vermont hiking.  This might satisfy my hunger for hiking in that beautiful State for awhile.  But, I feel it won't be long before I'll return to take a few more bites!

(The round-trip mileage for this trek was probably about 5.5 miles.  That number includes the trek to Mt. Hunger, plus the side-trip to White Rock Mountain, and to the quarry.)


Steve Smith said...

Another great Vermont report, John! I've never been on the Worcester Range and this is certainly whetting my appetite. Beautiful photos.


1HappyHiker said...

Hi Steve,

Thank you for posting your comments. As always, I’m very appreciative!

It’s a long (and uninteresting) story, but I’ve been fascinated by the Worcester Range ever since Cheri and I made a visit to Waterbury Center a few months ago. I was blown away when viewing that picturesque little mountain range from the outskirts of town.

Glad you liked the photos. They turned out good enough to give readers a general idea of the views. However, I always find it challenging to get truly great photos when shooting into the western sky in the afternoon hours. Guess the answer to that is to get an earlier start. Ugh! :-)


NeoAkela said...

Wow - those are some impressive photos of some impressive views! I really should stop being so loyal to my old stomping grounds and try crossing the border occasionally. I used to drive through Stowe/Waterbury while working way back - I guess in those days I wasn't looking up! Thanks for posting these different locations, John - it is great to know that there are just so many more places to explore.

Marty said...

Wonderful report and pictures.
Hooked on Vermont!!! More great mountains and exploring!!!.... and another blue bird day- I'm thinking beautiful foliage views in the fall. How long of a ride was it from Bethlehem?

1HappyHiker said...

Hi Chris,

There are indeed “so many more places to explore”, and Vermont is just one of those places. You do a remarkable job of exploring new places in New Hampshire!

Thank you for your generous comment about the photos in this report!


1HappyHiker said...

Hi Marty,

Thanks for your kudos and comments!

Regarding the driving time for this particular hike, it was about 1 hour & 40 min (each way). And actually, that timeframe is comparable to what it takes to get from Bethlehem to many of the trailheads in NH (like those in Wonalancet, for example), and is certainly comparable to the driving time for many trailheads in Maine.


Karl said...

Hi John,

That summit of Mount Hunger looks wonderful to relax on. Your enchanted forest picture came out great too. I can recall many scenes of a bright green, mossy forest like this, tried to capture it in a picture, and it never comes out good (the upper portion of the Mount Jackson Trail is one of these areas). You seemed to capture this beauty wonderfully!

Very nice report.

1HappyHiker said...

Hi Karl,

You are absolutely correct about your assessment of the summit of Mt. Hunger. It is indeed a terrific place to relax and enjoy the 360 degree views. There is plenty of “seating space” to accommodate a large number of hikers. It seems to be a very popular spot. Even when I was there mid-week, there were quite a few hikers.

Thank you for your compliments regarding my “enchanted forest” photo. I never know how any of my photos will turn out. I just point & shoot and hope for the best! :-)


Rita Wechter said...

I like the associations/allusions/tie-ins in this post to the name of the peak! Very creative!
Looks like you had another beautiful day for a hike; I love the clouds in the Eastward view.
I continue to be impressed by how much terrain you cover, and by the variety you pack into one day of hiking John.
Nice report!

1HappyHiker said...

Thanks Rita for your comments. As said before, I appreciate the perspective that you add.

Vermont-hiking has provided me with several adventures that are new to me. And should I be so corny as to say that new adventures are what I “crave”, and that I have a real “hunger” for them? :-)

Perhaps I should stop there, and merely finish by saying thanks again!


Jim S said...

Another nice report John! Hike Mt. Hunger last year but didn't quite make it to the top of White Rock. you should try the trail from the Worcester side. Lot of fun scrambles on that side with more awesome views.

1HappyHiker said...

Hi Jim,

First of all, thank you for your comments.

Secondly, it was a real “toss-up” for me as to whether to hike to Mt. Hunger via the Waterbury Trail, or the Middlesex Trail. Obviously, I chose the Waterbury Trail. However, I’d love to visit Mt. Hunger again, and when doing so, I’ll likely choose the Middlesex Trail based upon your recommendation, plus the fact that I like doing something new each time I hike.

Do you happen to know if the Middlesex Trail is a routine approach as a snowshoe hike?

Thanks again for posting a reply!

Summerset said...

You couldn't resist going back for "seconds", huh? LOL. Vermont certainly is beautiful as proven by your photos. That last one of the profile of Camel's Hump is excellent, and I'm sometimes amazed by the neat views you get traveling to and from a trailhead, not just on the trail itself.

1HappyHiker said...

Thanks Summerset for your comments.

Regarding the views traveling to/from trailheads, yes there are often some wonderful vistas along the way. For those folks who are unable to hike for whatever reason, fortunately there are plenty of roadside views that are pretty remarkable. And for us who are able to hike, those terrific roadside views are just one more enhancement to our overall hiking experience. This is sounding like a win-win situation to me! :-)


Mark Truman said...

Wonderful account John! We almost made it to Mt Hunger when we were in VT a few years ago. Now I know we need to go back!

1HappyHiker said...

Hi Mark,

You and Nat would most likely truly enjoy a trek to Mt. Hunger. The hike to/from the mountain probably wouldn’t fill your entire day. However, please be advised that the mountaintop itself is very conducive to some prolonged lingering! :-)

Thank you for posting your comments,

Ryan Linn said...

Mmm... That brings back memories! When I lived in VT, I lived in a house on Loomis Hill Road for seven months, three miles from the trailhead to Hunger Mountain. I was up that mountain probably around thirty times in those months– fall, winter, spring, night, day, rain, snow, sun. Wonderful place. And especially beautiful in the winter. I haven't been there since 2009, and I know I need to get back soon. As I recall, the trail was always badly eroded, even then. But I never did notice the side trail to the quarry. Very interesting!

Great report as always, John. Happy Trails!

1HappyHiker said...

Hi Ryan . . . I can certainly relate to your statement about frequent treks to mountains that are close to home. If nothing else, they sort of serve as an outdoor gym to keep you in shape for new hiking adventures! :-)

When you make a return visit to Mt. Hunger, I’ll be interested in your impressions of the trail. It appears to me that a lot of work has been done, and that the badly eroded sections are limited to a few short segments at the upper end of the trail.

Thanks for posting your comments . . . very much appreciated!


Ryan Linn said...

Heck, not even an outdoor gym-- it was more like an outdoor mental-health treatment :-)

I'll be sure to let you know how the trail looks when I get back to it. Hopefully my memory is good enough to tell which parts of the trail are newly fixed up. Even though it's been a few years, I'd like to think I still know that trail like the back of my hand. The last time I was there, I hiked it at night without a headlamp just because I could. haha. I do remember that the trail over to White Rocks was always in very poor repair, and a great place to go in winter if you wanted some serious solitude.

1HappyHiker said...

Ahhh yes, Ryan, you are so right! Hiking is a fabulous magic potion for the mind, as well as the body!

Okay, for your next trek to Mt. Hunger, I’m going to give you two other “homework assignments”, in addition to evaluating the condition of the Waterbury Trail. :-)

One task is to also evaluate the condition of the trail over to White Rock Mtn. Considering the moderately rugged terrain it passes through, I thought the trail was overall in pretty good condition. And secondly, take a look for that path leading over to the quarry. It diverges from the Waterbury Trail just a few hundred feet from the trailhead. It’s quite possible that it wasn’t there several years ago, or perhaps increased usage has made it more evident.

Further regarding trail conditions, I think there’s probably an element of subjectivity at play. What is good to you, might be bad to me, and vice-versa.


Jonathan B said...

Thanks for the insightful post on Hunger Mountain. It fueled my mental prep for today's hike and I had a great time. Here's a link to photos from my trip.

1HappyHiker said...

Hi Jonathan,

Hey, it’s great to read that you got some inspiration from my blog posting to hike Mt. Hunger. Thanks for sharing your photos. You got some great ones!