2016 is the 100th anniversary of the founding of the National Park Service and this summer West Hill House B&B and Vermont based ‘Wonder Walks’ are taking to heart the challenge given by the US National Park Service to help you explore Vermont’s Green Mountains. Did you know that the US National Parks originated with the advocacy of Scotsman John Muir?
In our state we are fortunate to have the Green Mountain National Forest, and to honor this anniversary we encourage guests to discover and explore the magnificent mountains, forests, waterfalls and trails in our own backyard, including the famed Long Trail. Bruce Acciavatti* owner of ‘Wonder Walks’ and experienced guide will personally guide you on a customized Green Mountain discovery adventure.
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Some guests who enjoy walking asked us the other day to help them with their planning for the upcoming stay by telling them more about the hiking around West Hill House B&B than we currently provide on our Things to do page. So given that we know many of our guests have similar interests, here is a blog on the topic.
The most popular walk to a summit on the Long Trail is to Mt Abraham. It is an exciting hike to one of the most impressive summits in New England. You start by driving to the Lincoln Gap just over 5 minutes from the B&B. As the gap is at about 2500ft, you are already more than half way to the top! The trail is a combination of high mountain forest and rocky terrain and may have numerous wet portions during the spring and after heavy rains. Elevation gain is moderate during the first portion increasing significantly as you approach the summit. At the 1.7 mile mark the trail passes the Battell Shelter a frequent overnight stop for Long Trail hikers. The shelter also marks the intersection of the Long Trail and the Battell Trail, a Long Trail access trail from the west. It is wise to note the intersection as to not get confused on your return trip. Once at the summit at just over 4000 feet you have 360 degree views of the Adirondack Mountains and Lake Champlain to the west, the White Mountains to the east and the Green Mountains from Killington Peak to Belividere Mountain to the south and north. (Please stay on the trail as the summit is home to a number of extremely rare arctic vegetation currently considered endangered.) You can go back the way you came, or continue to Lincoln Peak and come down on the ski trail to the Sugarbush base and back to West Hill House. (We’ll take you back to get your car!) Plan for 4 to 5 hours.
For a shorter walk, you can access the Long Trail at the same place – the Lincoln Gap, and walk south. The first landmark is Sunset Rock which is about half an hour in, so about a one hour round trip plus viewing time! Several guests have come back and told us they are not sure if they made it to Sunset Rock or not. We can tell them authoritatively that then they definitely did not! The view is so dramatic you’ll know when you have arrived.
The next nearest trail head is the App Gap on Route 17 about 20 minutes from the B&B, where you can climb south to General Stark at Mad River Glen. This is a much more ambitious outing involving steep grades and probably close to a 5 hours round trip. At the start of the hike there are ropes and ladders on the steep parts – this is not a casual stroll! An option is to come down the trail at Mad River Glen which would cut about an hour or more out, but then you are stuck from a transport point of view unless you take two cars. (It’s a little far from the B&B for us to come and shuttle you!)
You can go north from the same trail head to Molly Stark’s Balcony. It’s a 2.6 mile round-trip hike that gains over 500′ of elevation to a unique lookout. You hike north on the Long Trail, which climbs steeply, passes a spur to the Mad River Glen Lookout, then reaches a high point at the flat ridge of Molly Stark Mountain summit. The trail goes over the summit and on to Molly Stark’s Balcony where there is a great view of Camel’s Hump, the intervening peaks, with the Worcester Mountains visible to the east. Return by the same route.
Another good, quite ambitious, walk is to Burnt Mountain. The challenge here is to find the trail head! It’s a steep, 5.2 mile round-trip hike that takes you up to some of the best viewing on the Long Trail. The trail begins at the parking lot at the end of Big Basin Road before the steel pipe gate. You follow the Hedgehog Brook Trail along a stream. The trail ascends gently at first, becoming steeper as you get higher. After 2.5 miles, it joins the Long Trail. Shortly after joining the Long Trail, a short spur trail to the left leads to a small glacial pothole, one of the largest in New England. Burnt Rock Mountain is named for the fact that the bare summit, at only 3168′, is well below the scrub line. The fantastic views take in peaks and ranges visible in most directions, including Camel’s Hump and the Allens. Descend by the same route. Be sure to check with us for detailed directions to the starting point.
Another really nice walk that you pick up from Route 100 just south of Warren is Stetson Hollow Trail. It does not go all the way up to the Long Trail but is a beautiful walk in the woods. It’s a 4-mile round-trip fairly flat hike that ascends modestly that is a local well-kept secret. You begin at Stetson Hollow (marked by a small sign) on the west side of Rt. 100 south of Warren Village. This is a scenic hike along the brook and is marked by small waterfalls and cascades. The path is wide enough for two! You’ll know you’ve reached the end when the path peters out. Turn around and return the same way.
About an hour north from the B&B, but close to Ben & Jerry’s (!), is the Hunger Mountain hike. From where Rt 100 crosses I89 at exit 10 follow VT 100 north just past the Cabot Cheese outlet then turn right on Howard Avenue toward the Waterbury Center Post Office. At 0.3 miles, turn left on Maple Street. Just past the Fire Station, turn right on Loomis Hill Road. At the top of the hill the road bears left and you reach a small parking area at 3.8 miles on the right which is where the walk starts. The hike from there is about a 4 hour round trip and there are good views from the top all around.
There are also other more ambitious all day hikes for those interested. You can check with us for full details, either before you arrive or when you get here. As alway when walking in the hills, be sure to prepare by having the right equipment: sturdy boots, layers of clothes, water bottles, and some energy food. Note that counter-intuitively cellphone coverage on the Long Trail – even though it is high up – is very spotty. So never walk alone.