I climbed Vermont’s highest peak on Saturday. Yes, I cheated by taking the “toll road” most of the way up, but I couldn’t pass up the opportunity to see what all of the fuss was over this four mile road which leads you to Mt. Mansfield’s “nose”. The road is located at Stowe Mountain Resort which owns most of the Stowe side of the mountain. It costs $27; yes, $27. It seems like a steep price, but the road is also quite steep so, unless you want to put in upwards of eight hours (roundtrip) hiking, it ends up being worth it. Besides, how else are you going to get a “This car climbed Mt. Mansfield” sticker?’
The toll road is actually quite historic. It was constructed in 1856 and used by horse and carriage to get to the Summit Hotel, which was then just below the mountain’s nose. Surprisingly, only ¼ mile of the road is paved, which gives visitors a chance to experience true Vermont dirt roads for the other 3.75 miles. I can’t imagine riding a horse and carriage up this road. It took me about 20 minutes of constant gear changing and pothole dodging to get to the top, where the visitor center is located. Behind me, Pup tried to get as much of her body out of the window, while to my right, Anth judged my driving skills just about the whole way. Needless to say, I was feeling ready to hit the hiking trail by the time we pulled up to the top.
The hike was a little difficult for Pup due to some of the gaps between rocks. Overall, though, the mile and a half hike wasn’t too strenuous and gives you amazing views from beginning to end. During the entire hike, you are surrounded by actual alpine tundra that survived the Ice Age. Only two other spots in Vermont can claim that. Much of this hike runs along the Long Trail and by the time you reach the summit, you are 4,395 feet up. What do you do once you finally make it to the top? Well, the majority of Quebecois, broke out cheese, bread, and assorted dried meats. We gave the dog water and took in the views.