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31 January 2016

A Winter Hike to Mt. Pisgah (near Westmore, VT)

Most of my hiking is done within the State of New Hampshire where I live.   However, there are many hiking opportunities in Vermont that are about an hour's drive from my home in Bethlehem.   In early January 2016, I hiked to Mt. Pisgah (2,751 ft) which is located along Rt. 5A near the village of Westmore, VT.  This area lies within a region known as the Northeast Kingdom.

This trek was a simple "out and back" hike using the entire length of the South Trail, plus a segment of the North Trail was used to visit various overlooks along that trail.  The round-trip journey was about 4 miles with an elevation gain of about 1450 ft.   I've hiked to Mt. Pisgah during the warm-weather months, but this was my first winter ascent.

There is some interesting history associated with this region relating to the French & Indian War (1754-1763).  In 1759, Robert Rogers led his Rangers on a successful raid of the Abenaki Indian settlement of St. Francis in Quebec, Canada.  This raid was in retaliation for the Abenaki attack on a retreating British unit while under a flag of truce.  After the raid, Rogers and his men were pursued through northern Vermont by French and Indian forces as they made their way back to base.  As part of their escape route, the men hugged the rough and rocky eastern shoreline of Lake Willoughby at the foot of Mt. Pisgah.

Map showing trails and major overlooks for the Mt. Pisgah hike
While driving north on Route 5A en route to the trailhead, there is a surrealistic image of Mt. Hor and Mt. Pisgah that suddenly comes into view (Mt. Hor on left; Mt. Pisgah on right)
Picturesque woods and nice snowshoe track en route to the top of Mt. Pisgah
On the way to the top of Mt. Pisgah is Pulpit Rock which is a small ledge with a sheer drop off
From Pulpit Rock the view includes south end of Lake Willoughby, as well as Mt. Hor.
Nearing the top of Mt. Pisgah
The actual summit of Mt. Pisgah is a nondescript spot in the woods with a sign to let you know you've arrived!
The next two photos were taken from lookouts located north of Mt. Pisgah's summit. Each of these lookouts involve venturing out onto small ledges located atop the vertical cliffs on the east side of Lake Willoughby. 
Looking toward south end of Lake Willoughby
Looking toward north end of Lake Willoughby. (Near top/center of photo, the massive cliffs of nearby Mt. Wheeler can be seen.  This is another awesome hike in VT.)
Looking northwesterly from the outlooks off the North Trail.  Off in the distance, near the center of the photo, you can see the snow-covered ski slopes on Jay Peak which is located just a few miles from the Canadian border.
From a large ledge located just a few hundred feet east of Mt. Pisgah's summit, there are some eastward views toward the high peaks in NH (about 50 miles away).  This is a poor image, but it shows one such view.  At far left is a portion of the ski slopes on Burke Mountain (VT), and in the distance are peaks in the Franconia/Kinsman Range.  (The ski slopes on Cannon Mountain are faintly visible near top/center.)
After arriving back at the trailhead, I did a short 0.2 mile "hike-ette" along a trail  leading to the south end of Lake Willoughby.  From this end of the lake, there is a rather stunning view looking northward.  Lake Willoughby is a glacial lake reaching a depth of over 300 ft. in places.  Because of how it is dramatically situated between the steep cliffs of Mt. Pisgah and Mt. Hor, it has a resemblance to a Norwegian fjord.
Lake Willoughby front and center; Mt. Hor at left; Mt. Pisgah at right.



One Day in America said...

Lake Willougby is beautiful! I much prefer glacial lakes to man-made reservoirs. Doesn't everybody?
I don't know about those views from ledges with the steep drop-offs though. Not for the acrophobic!
I like the term "hike-ette"; maybe it will become part of the hiking lexicon!
Another fun post, John!

1HappyHiker said...

Thanks once again Rita for reading my blog, and for posting a reply.

Feel free to incorporate the term “hike-ette” into your hiking lexicon. I have no plans to copyright the word! :-)

And regarding the overlooks along the cliffs on the east side of Lake Willoughby, I think many acrophobic people would have an issue here! For whatever reason, I have no problems with being on the edge of a steep ledge, but do have a huge issue with climbing a fire tower. Go figure!