Mount Elmore – Matt Krebs, Operations & Publications Coordinator
Finding an enjoyable winter hike with three children can be a challenge. We regularly use our Winter Hiking Guide to Vermont to find options for our family. One of our favorites is Elmore Mountain in Elmore State Park. It has a lot of reward for your effort.
This hike can be broken up into three different options. A moderate 2.2-mile hike to the site of the old fire warden’s cabin, with a return the way you came. For the more adventurous, it is a short and steep (traction highly recommended) additional .2 mile hike up to the fire tower. The 360-degree view from the fire tower offers one of the most expansive views in north central Vermont. Finally, if you are looking for a longer day on the snow, doing the complete loop using the Ridge Trail makes for a 5.6-mile day with a couple more views. If you do choose to take the Ridge Trail, there is also Balancing Rock which is about .5 mile past the fire tower spur.
Equinox Mountain – Kristin McLane, Membership & Communications Coordinator
The climb up Equinox Mountain starts right from the village of Manchester and it’s mostly on Equinox Preservation Trust land. Even though it’s in the Green Mountain State, this mountain is actually the highest in the Taconic Range, which runs along the eastern border of New York before entering Vermont.
The trail begins very flat but soon gets steeper as it climbs 2840′ in the 3.1 miles to the summit. Taking the Red Gate Trail from the parking lot, you’ll soon pick up the Blue Summit Trail and take that all the way to the top. Snowshoes are a must in winter unless the trail has been packed down already, and be prepared for some cold winds at the top. The summit visitor center is closed in the winter but still a great place to take in the views, and don’t miss the side trail to Lookout Rock to see even more views of mountains in Vermont, New Hampshire, and Massachusetts.
Camel’s Hump – Mike DeBonis, Executive Director
One of my favorite winter hikes is Camel’s Hump from the Monroe Trail. From Waterbury, the trail can be accessed from the lower winter parking lot. From there you hike up the road to the summer parking lots and the former site of the Callahan Farm – later the Couching Lion Farm and home of GMC pioneer Will Monroe. Will, his sister, and beloved dogs are buried in a small cemetery a short walk from the upper parking lot.
The trail follows a well-trodden path through northern hardwoods. As you gain elevation, you can catch glimpses of the valley below through the leafless canopy of trees – views only had by the winter hiker. Higher up, the forest changes from hardwoods to a mix of birch and conifer trees. Expect to duck under tree branches laden with snow or ice. After 3.1 miles the trail enters the Camel’s Hump Hut Clearing and the intersection with the Long Trail and Burrows Trail. From the hut clearing, you ascend steeply .3 miles to the summit. In winter this section of trail and its’s alpine vegetation can be completely encrusted in snow and ice. It always amazes me how plants can survive in such harsh conditions. At the summit, on a clear day, the spine of the Green Mountains unfolds before you with distant views of the snow-covered peaks in New Hampshire and New York. Camel’s Hump is one of Vermont’s unspoiled gems. It is a wonderful mountain to visit any time of the year but is particularly beautiful in the winter with a fresh coat of snow.