Last stop on a 4 day tour of Southern Vermont. Although technically in the middle part of the state, these mountains were close enough to Rutland. The last day of hiking along the Long Trail also had the most views.
|Hiking Mt Ellen and Mt Abraham|
After hiking Mt Killington, I decided to head further North and see two other epic 4,000-footers. The last hike on an epic trip! It was a bittersweet morning. Tomorrow I'd be heading back for another semester of grad school with all the good things and stressful things that come with it. I really had to enjoy this last day of stress-free existence. The destination was Mt Ellen and Mt Abraham which are both 4,000 footers in Vermont. Beyond this, the trail and the summits are supposed to have great views of the state. That's all I needed to know!
The shortest approach of Mt Abraham involves the Long Trail as it passes over the Lincoln Gap. This notch in the mountains stands at 2,428ft and the Lincoln Gap Road is one of the steepest roads in Vermont. Its also not paved in some sections. Unfortunately it was closed; it usually doesn't open until the end of May.
So I had to hike from the Battell Trail which is longer and steeper than the Lincoln Gap/Long Trail approach. The book indicates that hiking Mt Abraham and Mt Ellen from the Battell Trail is 11.8 miles with 2,500 ft of elevation gain.
|Summit of Mt Abraham, Vermont|
The drive up was fantastic. Classic Vermont towns, windy country roads, lots of farms... half of the time, I enjoy driving to the trailhead as much as I enjoy the hike. As I approached the Battell Trail Trailhead I even saw a painter who had a canvass, easel and palette! He was painting the picturesque summit of Mt Abraham. I smiled at the thought of hiking somewhere that was gorgeous enough to paint!
The Battell Trail makes a steep ascent of the western side of Mt Abraham. In about 2 miles, I was at the intersection of the Battell Trail and the Long Trail. From here it was 0.9 miles to the summit of Abraham.
This summit is known as one of the best views in the Green Mountains. Unlike many other summits I've been on in the Greens, this had a full 360-degree panorama. It wasn't obscured by trees or ski trails. Just a view of everything in central Vermont. I just sat for a while taking it all in!
Continuing North on the Long Trail, I had several summits in between Mt Abraham and Mt Ellen. These are no more than a couple of insignificant elevated points, but it does make the trip between the two summits quite a roller coaster. I enjoyed it though because the trail hovers around 3700ft with little "windows" through the trees to view the valleys created by the Green Mountains. There are several ski areas which have been cut into the mountains but these also offer some panoramic views as you make your way to Mt Ellen. Overall, I found this trail to be my favorite of the last four days of hiking.
Eventually I actually made it to the summit of Mt Ellen... without even realizing it! There were no discernible summit markers nor signs! I popped out on the other side of the summit where there's a ski area and realized that I had no higher place to go. It was nice because I could see well up to Camels Hump and Mt Mansfield in the North. The actual summit of Mt Ellen left much to be desired- I promptly turned around and headed back to Mt Abraham. The trail TO Mt Ellen was greater than the summit itself.
|View from North of the summit of Mt Ellen|
Once I made it back to Abraham, I did the same thing I did earlier; sat around and took pictures. The incoming storm reminded me of my upcoming courses for the summer- ha! If I stayed any longer, I was bound to get rained on so I regretfully made my way down to the car.
What a wonderful trip this has been. I had climbed some 7 summits and visited a whole host of other quirky sights in Vermont. I gained some new appreciation for another state and discovered a lot about the culture and history of it. Furthermore, it fueled my desire to return to Vermont over the course of my graduate studies as a place of rejuvenation. This is not to say that I don't have places like this in Maine, but there was a different feel and flavor to Vermont... not better or worse... just different. At any rate, it was a nice 4-day vacation from the books.
Read. Plan. Get Out There!