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14 August 2014

Hiking in Vermont: Mts. Abraham, Ellen, Killington Peak, plus Texas Falls

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.
This westward view from the top of Mt. Abraham was pleasant enough on the day of my hike.   However, Lake Champlain and the Adirondacks are just barely discernible.  This vista would be truly awesome on a crystal clear Autumn day when the lake and NY mountains were clearly visible.
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!

~ THE END ~  

8 comments:

  1. As usual, outstanding post, pictures and tidbits of info. I will definitely look to try that traverse one day--I'm not much into lists either but finishing the Vermont 5 (I've also done Mansfield and Camels Hump) does seem doable on my very limited schedule to get our of NYC and go hiking in NE. That choo-choo train of clouds is pretty cool!

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    1. Hi Larry,

      Many thanks as always for stopping by to read my blog and post a reply.

      Yes, even with your limited schedule, it might be quite doable for you to finish the Vermont 5 in relatively short order. Especially if you have someone who’d be willing to assist with doing a traverse of Mts. Abraham and Ellen. My wife’s willingness to do a “drop-off/pick-up” was very helpful and much appreciated! Of course, another option would be to do a “car-spot”. The one-way driving time between the two trailheads is about 40 minutes.

      John

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  2. John,

    Your excellent reportage on your Vermont trip makes me want to drop everything and head over there! I especially enjoyed seeing the Jerusalem Trail and Bucklin Trail, which I plan to use when Carol and I return to climb those peaks. Great photos, as always - thanks!

    Steve

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    1. Steve, thank you for posting such a thoughtful reply to my report!

      The entire hiking experience was very satisfying, as were the journeys along the back roads of the Mad River Valley. This was the first time that Cheri and I had visited this region of Vermont, and we were quite favorably impressed. As an extra added attraction, all the trails were new to me. And as you know, this is something that I truly relish! :-)

      Hopefully, it won’t be too long before you and Carol can make a return visit to climb the mountains of Vermont.

      John

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  3. Looks like you had a great trip John. Beautiful pictures. I've done 0 hiking in Vermont I'm sorry to say. But am hoping to do Mt. Mansfield Labor day weekend. Influenced mostly by your June report on Mt Mansfield.

    Thanks for sharing,
    Joe

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    1. Joe . . . you will truly enjoy hiking to Mt. Mansfield. There are so many options for various loops that can be done. I hope you have crystal clear viewing conditions on the day of your hike, but even if you don’t, it still promises to be an enjoyable and memorable experience.

      Thanks for taking time to read my report and to post a reply!

      John

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  4. John, you managed to cram a lot of activity into a few days. As always!
    I love the steep rocky scramble on the way to the top of Mt. Abraham. And that vista from Mt. Ellen with the fence post—the post draws the viewer right into the scene. Also John, you seem to get to the sites of many New England plane crashes—guess that's because you've climbed most of New England's high mountains!
    Congratulations on getting to the summit of all of Vermont's 4000 foot peaks!
    Great post!

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    1. Rita . . . I'm very appreciative of your generous comments about this blog posting. Also, thank you for offering your congratulations regarding my completion of the VT 4K peaks.

      As you correctly state, I have indeed hiked to a fair number of mountaintop plane crash sites. I have never done any research about it, and so I don't know if perhaps New England has a higher concentration of crash sites versus other parts of the U.S.

      John

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