Mt. Killington: My First VT Hiking Experience
When I finished my NH48 4,000 footers, I was a bit disappointed that I no longer had a focused goal for my hiking endeavors. One of the great aspects of hiking is that the mountains are always there and the joy that I feel when I reach a summit can always be attained. This being said, after going to the AMC awards ceremony and seeing the community of people supporting each other’s hiking goals, I started setting my sights on the New England 67 4,000 footers in Vermont and Maine. There are five 4,000 footers in Vermont and fourteen in Maine, a seemly easy goal to accomplish after completing forty-eight in NH. Let me tell you it’s not as easy as it seems.
I decided to start with Vermont because the drive is only three or four hours from Boston. This is still a long trek for me, but some of the peaks in Maine are five hours away or more. The biggest issue for me now is not having a place to stay near the mountains anymore. All of the NH peaks are within an hour of my parents ski house in Sugar Hill, making a weekend of hiking pretty convenient. Now I’m forced to be a bit more creative with my accommodations! All the more reason to make the most of my time whenever I’m in the other states.
Killington is the southernmost 4,000 footer in Vermont and a relatively easy hike. I met my friend Todd at the trailhead around 8:30 and we started on our way shortly after. The first two miles were easy on the flat, wide Bucklin Trail. There was almost no mud but the swarming black flies reminded us that is was June. I was pleasantly surprised with the condition of the trails, because Vermont is kind of known for having an extended mud season. There were a few brook crossings, but they all had beautiful wooden bridges taking all of the excitement out of the spring’s high water levels.
At the two mile mark the trail started ascending gradually. The trail was only muddy in a handful of spots, and other then that the footing was excellent. It was mostly dirt paths with a few rocks and roots here and there, a contrast from the rugged terrain that the Whites have gotten me so used to. Todd kept a very brisk pace which was a challenge for me, but it felt great to get my blood pumping. I’ve been in Europe for the past month, so with all of the pastries and beer I’m not in the best shape. The gradual climb went on until we made it to the Long Trail just over two miles in.
From there it was just a quarter mile from there to the summit. We quickly reached Cooper Lodge, a quaint little Long Trail shelter. It reminded me of Cabot Cabin up in northern NH. It was cute but very rustic. The last tenth of a mile to the summit was very steep and rocky, reminiscent of the trails we all know and love in the Whites. It reminded me of the stretch between Galehead hut and South Twin Mountain but 1/8th of the length. Steep, rocky, and a nice challenge with a rewarding view at the summit.
The weather was beautiful when we made it to the top of the mountain and the views were great at the summit. The breeze was amazing after being followed by bugs for the previous few hours. We sat at the summit taking in the views for a while before making our way back down the way we came.
Killington was a great introduction to Vermont hiking and I was pleasantly surprised by the lack of mud and the well maintained trails. VT closes many of its trails during April and May because of mud, and I really saw how that protected them from being destroyed by boots. I was hoping for Lucy to come with me for this hike, but I realized that it would likely have been too steep towards the top for her to manage comfortably. I know she could have done it, but she wouldn’t have had a good time so I’m glad I didn’t put her through that. This hike was easier than your typical NH 4,000 footer with great views, so it ended up being a really nice way to spend the morning.
Mt. Killington (4,235 ft) via. Bucklin Trail, The Long Trail/Appalachian Trail, and Mt. Killington Spur [7.61 mi, 2507 ft, 4:00].
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