Recently my wife and I recently spent several days in Vermont's Mad River Valley and surrounding areas. The Mad River flows north through the towns of Warren, Waitsfield, and Moretown before entering the Winooski River just downstream from Middlesex. This location is ideal for hiking to peaks along the central portion of the Long Trail, which is the oldest long-distance hiking trail in America.
As part of this mini-vacation, I hiked to Mt. Abraham and Mt. Ellen as a 10.5 mile traverse. (My wife kindly dropped me off at the Long Trail's Lincoln Gap trailhead, and picked me up 6 hours later at the Jerusalem trailhead on Jim Dwire Road.) I also did a separate hike to Killington Peak as a 7.4 mile "out and back" trek via the Bucklin Trail. Normally, I pay very little attention to the various hiking lists. However, having hiked to these three peaks means that I've now visited all five mountains on the Vermont 4,000 footer list. On other occasions, I had hiked to the other two 4K peaks (Camel's Hump in August 2012; Mt. Mansfield in June 2014).
During this Summer of 2014 in northern New England, there have been very few days with crystal clear views. The days that I hiked to Mts. Abraham, Ellen and Killington Peak were no exception. The distant views were restricted by hazy conditions. But were these hikes still enjoyable? Oh yes!
Besides the solo hikes that I did to the 4K peaks, my wife and I jointly explored many miles of scenic back roads in the Mad River Valley. Also, we visited Texas Falls (near Hancock, VT) which has long been a favorite Green Mountain National Forest attraction. There was very little water flowing over the falls on the day of our visit, nonetheless it was still quite an attractive spot.
Shown below are some photos taken during this mini-vacation in Vermont. They are organized into four groups: 1) Traverse of Mts. Abraham and Ellen; 2) Hike to Killington Peak; 3) Texas Falls; 4) Back Road Journeys.
1) TRAVERSE OF MTS. ABRAHAM AND ELLEN:
|Map showing route of traverse|
|Is this why they call them the "Green Mountains" of Vermont? There were several beautiful segments such as this along the Long Trail.|
|One of several nicely constructed stone stairways along the Long Trail|
|Photo taken looking downward at the steep rocky scramble that I'd just climbed on the final approach to Mt. Abraham. Wouldn't be much fun if icy, but was a fun challenge with the dry conditions I had.|
|Wreckage of the Cessna 182N that crashed near the summit of Mt. Abraham on June 28, 1973. The pilot was the only person aboard and he survived the crash.|
|Vista from Lincoln Peak where the Long Trail skirts the top of ski trails|
|Vista from Mt. Ellen where the Long Trail skirts the top of ski trails|
|Start of my descent via the Jerusalem Trail|
|Large segments of the Jerusalem Trail wind through beautiful forestland|
|One segment of the Jerusalem Trail has a "superhighway" of tubing to harvest the maple sap.|
2) HIKE TO KILLINGTON PEAK
|Map showing my route|
The Bucklin Trail is among the nicest trails I've ever hiked. It is well maintained, and it has gentle grades as well as excellent footing throughout its course from the trailhead to the junction with the Long Trail. However, please be advised that reaching the summit of Killington Peak involves hiking a 0.2 mile spur trail that is very steep and rocky.
Also noteworthy is the minor discrepancy between the mileage on the signage versus that shown on the map. I suspect this is due to a combination of factors. For one thing, it appears that there has been some recent rerouting of the trail, probably due to damage from Tropical Storm Irene. Also, the sign shown in the next photo is located along the trail at a point that is at least a tenth of a mile beyond the trailhead parking lot. This means that mileage measured from the sign would be less than if it was measured from the trailhead.
|Sign located about a tenth of a mile from trailhead parking lot|
Although the summit of Killington Peak provides excellent views for miles across Vermont and surrounding States, it is bristling with a variety of communication towers, and is teeming with tourists who have ridden to the top of the mountain via the K-1 Express Gondola.
|Photo shows some of the many communication towers atop Killington Peak. (For privacy reasons, decided against posting a photo of the countless tourists enjoying their day on Killington Peak.)|
|This photo taken from Killington Peak isn't particularly remarkable. Just happened to like the "choo-choo train" lineup of clouds. It's almost as if they are gliding along some invisible track!|
3) TEXAS FALLS:
Texas Falls is easy to access. It's located within the Texas Falls Recreation area off Route 125, near the village of Hancock, VT. It has long been a favorite Green Mountain National Forest attraction. This was an attractive spot to visit, despite the fact that there was very little water flowing over the falls on the day of our visit. The brook at the base of the falls was very picturesque.
|Texas Falls (near Hancock, VT)|
|Texas Falls Brook at the base of the Texas Falls|
4) BACK ROAD JOURNEYS:
My wife and I traveled many scenic byways during our visit in the Mad River Valley area. Shown below are photos taken from the Moretown Common Road located just east of Moretown, VT.
|The Vermont 4K peak known as 'Camel's Hump' is seen at the top of this photo as it peers over a nearby ridgeline.|
|Camel's Hump is also seen in this snapshot, but less prominent. The flock of birds seen flying at the far right of the photo was totally unexpected. They came into view just as I was about to push the shutter button!|