Mt. Mansfield – Vermont

Unknown hiker on the Sunset Ridge Trail…

This past weekend Mari and I were again in Vermont. Mari was attending a conference and I was meeting up with Tripp for some play time outside. We drove over on Thursday night so Mari could attend some of the Friday events. Tripp couldn’t make it until Saturday, so on Friday I was on my own and decided to spend the day hiking the highest point in Vermont – Mt. Mansfield.

There are quite a few different routes to the top of Mt. Mansfield, there’s even a toll road that will take you 90% of the way up. I decided to hike the Laura Cowles Trail on the way up and then take the Sunset Ridge Trail on the way down. On the drive over the top of Mansfield was enshrouded in clouds and the Laura Cowles Trail follows a ravine up the side of the mountain offering a little more protection from the wind and from potential lightning. The only issue you might have is with water as quite a bit is routed down the center or the trail.

Fortunately, by the time I arrived at the base the sky was clearing and things were looking pretty good.



Here’s where the approach trail splits. I went to the right on the way up and came from the left on the way down. The approach from the parking lot is just a touch over a mile on easy, well maintained trail. The colors were just starting to come out and the weather ended up being just about perfect.



There was a lot of water on the Laura Cowles Trail. At times there were streams on either side of the trail and at other times the trail seemed to go right up the center of some of the streams. It wasn’t uncommon for me to find myself wondering if I had missed the trail and was just following the watershed. However, the blue blazes told me that I was on the right path. Waterproof boots are definitely recommended for this trail.




Here’s a view looking back down the Laura Cowles Trail… yes that is flowing water… and no this is not even close to the wettest or steepest part. I regret not taking more photos of this trail, but it was really steep and wet and I packed my camera in my pack hoping to keep it safe.



Here’s a look up the Sunset Ridge Trail with the summit of Mt. Mansfield in the background. The Sunset Ridge Trail is a little longer, but much less steep than the Laura Cowles Trail. It follows a ridge and provides some great views along the majority of it’s length. This is definitely the way to go if you happen to have kids or dogs in tow.

Now, I did take quite a few more photos. But, at some point during the hike I must have accidentally changed some of the settings and those images ended up being severely overexposed. I typically use my old D70s for trips like this because it’s lighter and if I did destroy it I wouldn’t be too distraught. However, the dial on top changes a little too easily and I’m not in the habit of checking it every time any more… guess I’ll have to go back.



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