These notes are written to help you compare the various routes that are commonly used to hike to the peaks. They are written on the assumption that you have a guidebook and a set of maps, so no directions are given to trailheads, and the trails are not described in any detail. I have omitted hikes that are substantially longer or more difficult than the standard ones, or that are simply less often used. The fact that a trail is not mentioned here does not imply that it is unsuitable.
You may want to look (in a separate window) at a Topozone Map of the Mount Mansfield area.
Mount Mansfield (elevation 4,393 feet) is the highest mountain in Vermont. From the east its ridge resembles the profile of a human face, and the names of its prominent features reflect this: Adams Apple (4,060'), Chin (4,393', highest point), Nose (4,062') and Forehead (3,940'). For about 2.3 miles (from the Forehead to Adams Apple) the Long Trail is almost constantly above treeline, the only such long stretch of alpine zone in Vermont. Please stay on the trail to avoid harming the delicate vegetation! As the Long Trail Guide writes:
Mount Mansfield is the most frequently visited mountain in Vermont with nearly 40,000 visitors walking its upper reaches every year. This use has severely affected its fragile ecosystem.
There are very many trails up Mt. Mansfield, I will describe a few of the more popular routes. Many of the routes that are not described here are very steep and exposed. The most used routes approach it from the east, but the routes from the west are perhaps more interesting.
The National Weather Service in Burlington, VT, has a forecast for the Higher Summits of Vermont and Northern New York as well as a point forecast for Mount Mansfield.
Mount Mansfield from the east
Long Trail from Smuggler's Notch
The classic loop goes up by the Long Trail from Smuggler's Notch (on VT 108, east of the mountain), past Taft Lodge, to the col (Eagle Pass) between the Chin and the Nose. There is a section with steep ledges between the Chin and Eagle Pass, I prefer to go up it than down! Follow the ridge for about 2 miles to the Summit Station at the base of the Nose. Descend a short distance on the Toll Road, then take the Haselton Trail to the base of the mountain on VT 108, about a mile south of where you started (lp: 6.5 miles; 2,800 feet; 4:40). Note that the entire ridge is very exposed to the elements.
In bad weather it is much preferable to avoid the loop and just go up and back on the Long Trail (rt: 4.6 miles; 2,800 feet; 3:40). The amount of exposure can be further reduced by going from Taft Lodge to the Chin by the very steep, but sheltered, Profanity Trail (same distance and elevation gain).
Hell Brook Trail
A much steeper and rougher approach from the north is by the Hell Brook Trail. This trail meets the LT in Eagle Pass, 0.3 mile north of the summit. It is recommended to descend by the LT (lp: 4.1 miles; 2,600 feet; 3:20).
Mount Mansfield from the west
Sunset Ridge Trail
Another popular approach is from Underhill State Park to the west of the mountain. The scenic route is the Sunset Ridge Trail, which follows the Sunset Ridge above treeline for almost a mile (rt: 6.6 miles; 2,700 feet; 4:40). You can make a loop back to the same trailhead by following the Laura Cowles Trail (6.0 miles; 2,700 feet; 4:20). For my spring of 2003 trip to Adam's Apple on Mount Mansfield I used the Sunset Ridge Trail.
|Route||Distance||Elevation Gain||Book Time|
|Long Trail, round trip||4.6||2,800||3:40|
|Long Trail - Haselton loop||6.5||2,800||4:40|
|Hell Brook - Long Trail loop||4.1||2,600||3:20|
|Sunset Ridge round trip||6.6||2,700||4:40|
|Sunset Ridge - Laura Cowles loop||6.0||2,700||4:20|