2 Free Issues and 3 Free Gifts!
Full Name:
Address 1:
Address 2:
Zip Code:
Email: (required)
If I like it and decide to continue, I'll pay just $12.00, and receive a full one-year subscription (9 issues in all), a 73% savings off the newsstand price! If for any reason I decide not to continue, I'll write "cancel" on the invoice and owe nothing.
Your subscription includes 3 FREE downloadable booklets.
Or click here to pay now and get 2 extra issues
Offer valid in US only.

Also on

Enter Zip Code

Backpacker Magazine – October 2000

Vermont's Many-Faced Long Trail

If land has a personality, then Vermont's 270-mile Long Trail is one moody, unpredictable way to hike through New England.

by: Charlie Wood

From this bird's-eye perspective, I can see Canada to the north, New York to the west, and New Hampshire to the east. Crisp air fills my lungs. Geese are heading south. The first third of the rugged Long Trail has humbled me plenty, but I'm making progress and finally hiking with the New England fall as planned.

The bright colors tickle my eyes and the smell of decomposing leaves is in the air as I crunch through the forest and down Mansfield's side to the Winooski River. The Mansfield dayhikers are quickly a distant memory.

Three days later, my quest to walk with autumn ends abruptly when winter arrives. Snow, sleet, and freezing rain frost the woods, making an arctic ordeal out of a 100-foot trip to the privy outside Skyline Lodge, where I've holed up for the night. The next day, Travis, the GMC caretaker, and I sit and read in silence inside the chilly shelter, occasionally making small talk and listening to the weather report on a battery-powered radio. It's a day not fit for man nor beast, and I wonder whether my end-to-end hike will have to be put on hold until the weather breaks. "Hey, y'all in there?" comes a voice from out in the cold.

Jennifer and Bret, a couple from Louisville, Kentucky, out for an overnighter, are on the front porch. They're wearing flannel shirts, corduroys, and bandannas, and are just begging for a lecture from a self-righteous outdoorsperson on the evils of cotton. Even so, the supposedly thin-blooded Southerners appear to be enjoying the scenery.

"It's a little cold out here, but it's beautiful!" they rave. "Just look at Skylight Pond in the fog!" I decide that the cotton-clad interlopers aren't about to out-tough me. Mumbling my mantra ("Today is a good day to hike"), I don my high-tech clothing and follow Bret and Jennifer back to the trail.

As my blood pumps and the altitude drops, warmth returns. Autumn, however, does not. Winter hangs in the air and offers a few more dustings of snow before milder weather ushers in Columbus Day weekend—the unofficial fall-foliage holiday. Only 100 miles and a week on the trail lie ahead of me, but I'm not about to battle the crowds of holiday leaf-peepers. Instead, I give up walking for a few days and hook up with a GMC trail crew to "give something back," as they say.

Five volunteers and I lug rocks of all shapes and sizes to create a trail to crew leader Greg's exacting specifications. "Make it easy to walk, but hard to break down," he says. "It should look as though it belongs here."

By day's end, my body aches and I'm covered with dirt, but the stone staircase and smoother section of trail do me proud. Working like this makes me all the more grateful for the sweat others shed so that I might enjoy a few weeks of backpacking along this route.

Subscribe to Backpacker magazine
Sign up for our free weekly e-newsletter
Address 1:
Address 2:
Email (req):

Reader Rating: -


Feb 25, 2009

your right my partner and i finished the long trail in sept 08 and i ended up taking a bad fall coming down haystack and then jay peak . i had to have surgery from that spent 57 days in w wheel chair two weeks on crutches and now walking would i do it again you bet in fact come june this year we will be back in vermont to finish the at there. good luck


Your rating:
Your Name:


My Profile Join Now

Most recent threads

Trailhead Register
Falling in the backcountry
Posted On: Aug 20, 2014
Submitted By: Grizzly James
The Political Arena
How ISIS got rich
Posted On: Aug 20, 2014
Submitted By: Ben2World
View all Gear
Find a retailer

Special sections - Expert handbooks for key trails, techniques and gear

Check out Montana in Warren Miller's Ticket to Ride
Warren Miller athletes charge hard and reflect on Big Sky country, their love for this space and the immense energy allotted to the people who reside in Montana.

Boost Your Apps
Add powerful tools and exclusive maps to your BACKPACKER apps through our partnership with Trimble Outdoors.

Carry the Best Maps
With BACKPACKER PRO Maps, get life-list destinations and local trips on adventure-ready waterproof myTopo paper.

FREE Rocky Mountain Trip Planner
Sign up for a free Rocky Mountain National Park trip planning kit from our sister site

Follow BackpackerMag on Twitter Follow Backpacker on Facebook
Get 2 FREE Trial Issues and 3 FREE GIFTS
Survival Skills 101 • Eat Better
The Best Trails in America
YES! Please send me my FREE trial issues of Backpacker
and my 3 FREE downloadable booklets.
Full Name:
Address 1:
Zip Code:
Address 2:
Email (required):
Free trial offer valid for US subscribers only. Canadian subscriptions | International subscriptions