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The five Vermont 4,000 footers are all on the Long Trail (LT), and close enough to the roads that they can all be easily done as day trips. Mounts Ellen and Abraham are often combined in a single hike over both summits, while the other three are almost always done separately.

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.

Mountain Weather Forecast

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 forecasts for Killington Peak and Mount Ellen.

Killington Peak

If you do not have a printed map handy, you may want to look at a Topozone map of the area.

There are two common approaches to Killington. The shorter (rt: 7.2 miles; 2,500 feet; 4:50) is from the West, from Brewer's Corner, and follows the Bucklin Trail to its junction with the Long Trail near Cooper Lodge. From here the Killington Spur climbs steeply to the summit.

A longer approach, doing both Killington and Pico Peak (elevation 3,957 feet,a peak on the New England 100 Highest list), is from Sherburne Pass on Rt 4. Take the old route of the LT (now called the Sherburne Trail) to Pico Camp, then up and down the Pico Spur, then continue on the LT to Cooper Lodge, and go up and down the Killington Spur. With only one car you have to return the same way (rt: 12.0 miles; 2,650 feet; 7:20), with two cars you can descend by the Bucklin trail (lp: 9.6 miles, 2,650 feet, 6:10).

Routes to Killington Peak
Route Distance Elevation Gain Book Time
Mt. Killington by Bucklin Trail 7.2 2,500 4:50
Killington & Pico Peaks by old LT 12.0 2,650 7:20
Killington & Pico Peaks loop 9.6 2,650 6:10

Mount Abraham and Mount Ellen

If you do not have a printed map handy, you may want to look (in a separate window) at a Topozone map of the area.

These two summits are 3.7 miles apart on the "Monroe Skyline" section of the LT. They are close enough to be done together, though they can, of course, be done separately. They can be approached from where the AT crosses roads in Lincoln Gap (south of Mt. Abraham) or Appalachian Gap (north of Mt. Ellen), or from side trails on the west slopes of the mountains. When doing one peak alone it is usual do do a round trip, there is little reason to use two trails and do a car spot. Doing both together requires two cars or the willingness to thumb a rids back!

The summit of Mount Abraham is one of the three areas in Vermont with alpine vegetation, so please be careful! The other two are Camel's Hump and Mount Mansfield.

Mt. Abraham Alone

Mount Abraham can be done alone in two ways, both quite short. It may be approached from Lincoln Gap (elevation 2,424 feet) along the LT (rt: 5.2 miles; 1,600 feet; 3:25), note that the road through Lincoln Gap is not plowed in winter. An approach with more elevation gain uses the Battell Trail then the LT (rt: 5.8 miles; 2,500 feet; 4:10).

Mt. Ellen Alone

Mount Ellen can also be approached via the LT from Appalachian Gap (elevation 2,365 feet), but this route involves more elevation gain than the trailhead elevation suggests, as it goes over General Stark Mountain, then drops to the Glen Ellen Lodge before climbing up to Mount Ellen (rt: 10.6 miles; 2,200 feet; 6:25). Alternately it can be approached via the Jerusalem Trail (rt: 8.6 miles; 2,600 feet; 5:35).

Mt. Abraham and Mt. Ellen

Doing both peaks will give you the opportunity to do part or all of the Monroe Skyline along the ridge. To quote the Hiker's Guide to the Mountains of Vermont:

Although the ridge is generally densely wooded, the trail itself is challenging, and there are enough viewpoints to make this a very worthwhile excursion.

With four trailheads there are a large number of potential routes, I will describe a few of them. Most require two cars or the willingness to thumb a ride back to the starting point, but I have just added a single car route..

The most obvious way is to follow the LT from Lincoln to Appalachian Gaps (lp: 11.6 miles; 2,500 feet; 7:00, same in reverse direction). This goes over both peaks, plus Lincoln Peak and General Stark Mountain.

Another way is to start from Lincoln Gap but use the Jerusalem Trail to go down (lp: 10.5 miles; 2,300 feet; 6:25), avoiding the rather rough climb over General Stark Mountain. Starting at Appalachian Gap and exiting by the Battell Trail is another possibility (lp: 11.8 miles; 2,500 feet; 7:10).

With one car the easiest way is a round trip from Lincoln Gap to Mt. Ellen and back along the Long Trail (rt: 12.6 miles; 1,600 feet; 7:05).

Note that in all cases I suggest starting at one of the gaps, this saves about 1,000 feet of elevation gain!

Routes to Mt. Abraham and Mt. Ellen
Route Distance Elevation Gain Book Time
Mt. Abraham by LT 5.2 1,600 3:25
Mt. Abraham by Battell and LT 5.8 2,500 4:10
Mt. Ellen by LT 10.6 2,200 6:25
Mt. Ellen by Jerusalem and LT 5.8 2,600 4:10
Mt. Abraham & Mt. Ellen by LT 11.6 2,500 7:00
Mt. Abraham & Mt. Ellen by LT and Jerusalem 10.5 2,300 6:25
Mt. Ellen & Mt. Abraham by LT and Battell 11.8 2,500 7:10
Mt. Abraham & Mt. Ellen, round trip by LT 12.6 1,600 7:05


The official guidebook is the Long Trail Guide published by the Green Mountain Club (GMC). This is a much less detailed guide than the White Mountain Guide, and does not give the elevations of trailheads. The maps that come with it are not very detailed, though there is a more detailed map of Mount Mansfield and Camels Hump. Map Adventures publishes a pair of maps that are a very useful supplement to those in the guide. The first is the Northern Vermont Hiking Trails, which covers Mt. Mansfield, Camel's Hump and more. The second is Vermont and New Hampshire Hiking, which covers Killington, Abraham and Ellen, as well as other areas. The GMC also publishes a Trail Map of Mt. Mansfield separate from the guidebook.

All the Vermont Fours are covered in the Long Trail Guide, but several of the peaks on the NE 100 Highest list are not. These will be found described in the Day Hiker's Guide to Vermont, also published by the GMC.

In addition to the two official guidebooks there are a large number of other books, the one I use is the Hiker's Guide to the Mountains of Vermont by Jared Gange, a slim volume that covers most of the routes described here.