This past weekend Mari and I met up with my friend Lucian and his girlfriend Gloria for a short hike up Mt Mansfield. It was a beautiful day with a light wind and these thick heavy clouds making for beautiful views and nice temps. Mari and I picked up Lucian and Gloria in Essex and then drove to Underhill State Park where we began our hike. The plan was to take the Laura Cowles trail up, hang out on top for a bit and maybe explore the ridge, then return via the Sunset Ridge trail.
The Laura Cowles trail is probably one of the shortest routes to the top of Mt Mansfield, but that also makes it one of the steepest. The last mile of the trail before you gain the ridge climbs just under 1900 feet. At times it’s more like an easy climb than a steep hike. The Laura Cowles trail also happens to follow one of the main drainages on the west side of the mountain and therefore is almost always wet. It’s not exactly like hiking up a river, but it’s wet most of the way up and it’s definitely something to take into consideration.
Once we reached the ridge we stopped for a water break and then climbed the last little bit up to the summit where we hung out for a while and had something to eat. After taking in the view for a bit we wandered down the ridge and explored for a bit eventually taking the Sunset Ridge trail back to our car. Mt Mansfield is a beautiful place for a hike and there are a number of ways to get to the top. You can take one of the many trails, or you can drive your car up the auto road at the south end of the ridge. Our loop, including all of the exploring, was ~5.5 miles with 2,806 ft of elevation gain and took us just over 3.5 hours to complete.
Definitely include this one on your bucket list if you live in or near Vermont.