Let’s HikeVT! This week, in advance of the Fourth of July Holiday Weekend, we’re recommending alternative hikes to Vermont’s most popular (and crowded!) peaks. Whether you’re seeking a new trail or craving solitude, you’ll enjoy exploring Ludlow Mountain and Butler Lodge Loop instead of crowding popular trails around Mt. Killington and Mansfield.
- Butler Loop, Underhill | Alternative to Mt. Mansfield
- Skyline Trail, Worcester to Middlesex | Alternative to the Monroe Skyline, along Mts. Abe and Ellen
- Beaver Meadow, Chilcoot, LT, Whiteface Loop, Morristown | Alternative to Camel’s Hump
- Ludlow Mountain/Okemo, Mount Holly | Alternative to Mt. Killington
- Branch Pond Trail, Sunderland | Alternative to Stratton Pond
Butler Lodge Loop, Underhill
» 4.5 mi round trip, approx. 1,700 ft elevation gain
To escape the crowds on the summit of Mt. Mansfield, head over to Butler Lodge on the south end of Mansfield Ridge. A beautiful but moderately difficult 4.5 mile loop can be made by connecting Butler Lodge Trail then continuing onto the Wampahoofus trail for 0.1 mi before turning left onto the Rock Garden for 0.6 mi. At the next junction turn left onto Maple Ridge for 0.4 mi then turn left onto the Frost Trail to return back to the trailhead. The loop provides a variety of terrain with many amazing views, exciting rock scrambles and caves, interesting birch forests, and of course, Butler Lodge, one of the overnight sites found along the Long Trail.
Driving Directions from Stowe: From Underhill Center, take Pleasant Valley Rd. 0.3 miles north, then turn right on Stevensville Rd. and follow it 2.7 miles to the end. Do not park in travelled portions of this narrow road. Map it.
Skyline Trail, Worcester to Middlesex
» 11.9 mi round trip, approx. 2,226 ft elevation gain
If you are looking for an epic ridgeline hike, but want to avoid the holiday crowds around Abe and Ellen, try the Skyline Trail over the Worcester Range. This trail connects Worcester Mountain and Mount Hunger, and requires a car spot and side trails to access it. Use the Worcester Mountain Trail to connect to the Skyline trail near the summit of Worcester Mountain. The trail then follows the ridge of the Worcester Range all the way to the open, rocky summit of Mount Hunger. Make sure to descend via the Middlesex Trail, so you stay on the east side of the range for an easier car spot.
To the Worcester trailhead: From route 12 out of the town of Worcester, turn onto Minster Brook Road and continue for 1.5 miles. Turn right onto Hampshire Hill Road and continue for 2.5 miles, then turn left onto Mountain Road where the parking area is 0.1 miles ahead. Map it.
To the Middlesex trailhead: From Montpelier, head north on VT-12/Elm Street/Worcester Branch Road and continue for 4.9 miles. Turn left onto Shady Rill Road and continue for 2.2 miles. Take a right onto Story Road and continue for 0.7 miles. Turn left onto North Bear Swamp Road and continue for 1.9 miles to the parking area on the right. Map it.
Beaver Meadow > Chilcoot Pass > Long Trail > Whiteface Loop, Morristown
» 7.9 mi round trip, approx. 1,472 ft elevation gain
If you are looking for the adventure of Camel’s Hump, but want a more remote experience, try the Beaver Meadow, Chilcoot Pass, Long Trail, Whiteface loop. Starting on the Beaver Meadow Trail, gradually climb to Beaver Meadow Lodge. This is a good place to take a break and eat a snack before continuing onto the Chilcoot Pass Trail, which is a short, but very steep climb to the Long Trail. Follow the Long Trail north pass Hagerman Overlook, which provides views of Mansfield. After climbing over Morse Mountain, you will reach the junction with Whiteface Trail. Take the Whiteface Trail back down to Beaver Meadow Trail, which you will follow back out to your car.
Driving Directions: From VT-100 in Morristown, head west on Morristown Corners Road. Go 0.7 miles and go straight onto Walton Road, then go 0.3 miles and bear left to stay on Walton Road. Continue 0.7 miles on Walton Road to Mud City Loop on the left. Go 2.7 miles on Mud City Loop to Beaver Meadow Road. Park in the winter lot about a mile down Beaver Meadow Road on the right or continue another half mile to the summer parking lot at the end of the road. Map it.
Ludlow Mountain (Okemo), Mount Holly
» 6.0 mi round trip, approx. 1,943 ft elevation gain
If you are in the Rutland or Killington area but want to avoid the crowds around Killington and Pico, head just half an hour south to hike Ludlow Mountain, or more commonly known as Okemo due to the ski resort on the eastern slopes of the mountain. Follow the blue blazed Healdville Trail as it gradually climbs to the summit of Ludlow Mountain. At the summit, you will find a fire tower that provides 360-degree views.
Driving Directions: From Ludlow: From the intersection of Vermont Routes 100 and 103, head west on Vermont Route 103; turn left on Station Road (2.7 mi). Turn left again just after the railroad tracks (0.8 mi) and park in the lot at the end of the gravel road.
From Rutland: From the intersection of US Route 7 and Vermont Route 103, head south on Vermont 103; turn right on Station Road (15 mi). Turn left just after the railroad tracks (0.8 mi) and park in the lot at the end of the gravel road. Map it.
Branch Pond Trail, Sunderland
» 8.6 mi round trip, approx. 407 ft elevation gain
Instead of hiking to popular Stratton Pond, try the Branch Pond Trail, which brings you past two remote ponds through the Lye Brook Wilderness. Follow the trail over rolling terrain past Branch Pond. As you pass the pond, you will enter the Lye Brook Wilderness where the trail may become harder to follow due to minimal brushing and blazing. At the junction with the Lyn Brook Trail, continue straight on the Branch Pond Trail to the north shore of the pond where you will find views of Stratton Mountain. Return the way you came.
Driving Directions: From the east: Follow Stratton-Arlington Road from VT-100 west 3.4 miles to the town of Stratton and then another 3.4 miles to the Long Trail parking lot on the north side of the road just before crossing the bridge over the East Branch of the Deerfield River. Continue 2.1 miles past the Long Trail on Stratton-Arlington Road, which becomes Kelley Stand Road at the county line, to the Branch Pond Trail trailhead on the right.
From the west: Take exit 3 (Arlington) off US-7 and proceed 0.1 mile west on VT-313 to a right turn onto South Road. Follow South Road 0.6 miles to its end on Kansas Road. Turn right and proceed 0.7 miles to a fork just after crossing a bridge. Take the right-hand fork, Kelley Stand Road, and proceed 8.3 miles from the fork on Kelley Stand Road to the trailhead on the left. Map it.
Questions? Our visitor center staff is here to assist you. Call (802) 244-7037 or email [email protected].