This weekend marks the start of hiking season in Vermont. And we are excited! Hiking is one of the state’s top summer tourism draws and GMC estimates about 200,000 people visit the Long Trail system each year. As official protectors and maintainers of the Long Trail, we provide numerous hiking guides and maps that are available to all hikers. GMC’s Visitor Center is also open 7 days a week from 9:00am to 5:00pm to answer any questions you may have about hiking on the Long Trail and its side trails, the Appalachian Trail in Vermont, and trails in the Northeast Kingdom. Our expert staff would love a visit from you at our Visitor Center in Waterbury Center and to help you plan a hike.
New this hiking season, the mile-long Long Trail relocation in Smuggler’s Notch is open, featuring an accessible boardwalk, new parking area, and relocated trail that passes right by the historic Barnes Camp Visitor Center, open on weekends through the summer and staffed by dedicated volunteers. The Long Trail north and south of Smuggler’s Notch is accessed from the Barnes Camp parking lot, with hiker parking across the street at Stowe. Follow the boardwalk to take the Long Trail south, or walk over the bridge behind Barnes Camp and up the stairs to take the Long Trail north. The former parking area on Route 108 no longer accesses the trail. If you are hiking up Mount Mansfield on the Long Trail from Route 108, still park at Stowe and take the boardwalk south from Barnes Camp. All GMC maps are up to date.
From its rocky summits to gentle valleys, Vermont is home to hundreds of miles of hiking opportunities. This is a great time of year to get outside and enjoy a favorite hike or explore a new trail. Higher elevations may still have snow and muddy conditions, so please be prepared to walk through puddles and mud to avoid damaging the surrounding vegetation.
- Here are a few tips for early season hikers:
- Plan ahead and let someone know where you will be hiking.
- Carry a map and know which trailhead you need to return to.
- Bring a warm extra layer as mountain tops are chilly year-round and Vermont’s weather can quickly change.
- Stay hydrated and bring food for long hikes.
- Bring rain gear; even an emergency poncho or garbage bag will help in a pinch.
- Carry out what you carry in and help protect Vermont’s special places.
Our volunteers have been working diligently to clear the trails of winter debris, coinciding nicely with our spring weather and the melting of our mountain snows. We have about forty seasonal employees including caretakers at high-use sites and fragile alpine summits, a professional trail crew, and a construction crew who will work to improve or rebuild shelters and other trail infrastructure.