One of the lesser-traveled approaches to Mount Mansfield, the hike up Maple Ridge is a strenuous climb up varied terrain. From the parking lot on Stevensville Road, hike due east along the road for 0.2 mile. Turn left at the first trail junction, and continue straight on the Frost Trail.
From here, the trail climbs in earnest toward the spine of Maple Ridge. From the first rock-outcropping overlook, the hike traverses a mix of dense forest and exposed rock marked by blazes. Slightly technical spots (including “The Cut,” a narrow rock shelf, and “The Gap,” a manageable ledge jump) will keep you on your toes. Two miles into the hike, an optional 0.2-mile side trip climbs a rock scramble up to the Forehead, a broad rock outcropping viewpoint south of the Mansfield summit. This trip bypasses the detour and heads south on the Wampahoofus Trail, down-scrambling through more boulder obstacles to Butler Lodge, a cabin shelter maintained by the Green Mountain Club.
The downhill return trip to the trailhead on Butler Lodge Trail is mellow compared to the ascent: a gradual singletrack trek through hardwood forest (and a leaf-peeping wonderland during peak foliage).
-Mapped by Berne Broudy, AuthenticOutdoors.com
TO TRAILHEAD: Take I-89 to exit 15, and head east (right) on VT 15. Continue 3.6 miles to Essex Junction and bear left to continue on VT 15. Go 9.2 miles (stay right on VT 15 through Essex Center and then bear left to stay on VT 15 2.8 miles later), and bear right onto River Rd. Continue 2.7 miles and bear left on Pleasant Valley Rd. In 0.3 mile, turn right onto Stevensville Rd. Go 2.5 miles to trailhead parking.