Crossing the bald pate of Burnt Rock Mountain along Vermont's Long Trail, I paused to drink in the big booming view up and down the Green Mountains and westward to Lake Champlain, its waters reflecting golden sunlight. If this were a typical eastern hike, where tree-free views are rare, I wouldn't have budged from Burnt Rock for at least half an hour. But I'd already been treated to a tremendous vista from the rocky precipice known as Molly Stark's Balcony, and ahead lay Mts. Ira Allen and Ethan Allen, as well as the highlight of this hike, 4,083-foot Camels Hump.
Having your socks knocked off at regular intervals is just one reason why the 18.4-mile route from Appalachian Gap to the Winooski River is considered by many to be the Long Trail's finest, and showiest, leg.
Between the high points you'll experience a trail that's just about as wild as anything in the Northeast. Along the route, you can set up camp in rustic cabins at Montclair Glen Lodge on the south flank of Camels Hump or Gorham Lodge on the north. If you can't shuttle cars between Appalachian Gap and the river side of this leg, start instead at the Winooski and make for the cabins (12 or 15.6 miles round trip) on an out-and-back hike. Either way, get an early morning start to avoid the dayhikers who flock to Camels Hump on weekends.
Where: Both trailheads are 30 miles southeast of Burlington and about 210 miles northwest of Boston. The Appalachian Gap trailhead is 5 miles west of Irasville on VT 17. The Winooski River trailhead is 3.5 miles east of Jonesville on River Road, which connects with US 2 via a bridge over the river.
Maps:Guide Book of the Long Trail ($14.95, Green Mountain Club, 802-244-7037) is an excellent guide that includes maps.
Trail Info: Green Mountain Club, (802) 244-7037.