Long Trail (Section 10): Buchanan Shelter to VT 15
A 25.7-mile point-to-point across some of the toughest terrain in the Green Mountains, this Long Trail section scrambles up Mount Mansfield, Vermont's highest peak.
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With over 9,500 feet of climbing and 11,000 feet of descending, the 25.7-mile route of section 10 is likely the most difficult of the entire Long Trail. The crux of the trek is the 5.8-mile, 2,600-foot climb up Mount Mansfield, Vermont’s highest peak.
Begin hiking from the Buchanan Shelter as the route picks up the climb to Bolton Mountain. The trek up Bolton, like most of the ascents of this section, is full of ups and downs and rarely a steady effort. From Bolton, descend a ridgeline to climb back over Mount Mayo and then skirt Mount Clark en route to the Taylor Lodge shelter, an advisable spot to pause for the evening before tackling Mansfield.
After a gradual climb from the Needles Eye saddle, the climb steepens at Butler Lodge (and a bad weather bypass option up to the Mansfield summit). Shortly ahead, the route emerges from treeline (where it will stay for 2.3 miles to the true summit). Scramble up to the Forehead (Mansfield’s southernmost peak) and then trek north on the ridge spine (where you’ll enjoy top-of-Vermont views) towards “The Chin,” the true summit of Mansfield.
Heading down from the summit, hunker down for a steep, 2,700-foot drop to VT 108. This stretch will likely take a toll on your knees and hips as you’ll scramble down boulders and root-strewn trail for over two miles. After crossing VT 108, the LT picks up another rough climb up the top of the Smugglers Notch and Stowe Ski resorts (and the summits of Spruce and Madonna Peak. The climbing tops out at the wooded summit of Whiteface Mountain before the final 6-mile, tough-on-the-joints descent to the section’s end at VT 15.
Shelters: Buchanan, Puffer, Taylor Lodge, Butler, Taft Lodge, Sterling Pond, Whiteface, Bear Hollow
-Mapped by Berne Broudy, AuthenticOutdoors.com
MORE LONG TRAIL MAPS
Section 1 | Section 2 | Section 3 | Section 4 | Section 5 | Section 6 | Section 7 | Section 8 | Section 9 | Section 10 | Section 11 | Section 12
- Distance: 41.4
Location: 44.430768, -72.876227
Enjoy the morning view from an overlook by Buchanan Shelter and then continue hiking northeast on the LT. Ahead, the trail passes another overlook (the Harrington viewpoint). Ahead, the LT makes an ascent to Bolton Mountain over a rugged up-and-down route.
Location: 44.44275, -72.84354
Near a saddle below Bolton, continue on the LT past the Ravens Wind Trail. Ahead the LT climbs steeply to the Bolton summit before descending off the east face on a beautiful ridgeline towards the wooded summit of Mount Mayo.
Location: 44.453694, -72.8388203
The LT descends a steep rooty and rocky descent past the Puffer Shelter.
Location: 44.4849167, -72.8273815
The LT passes a junction to the Taylor Lodge and then jogs back northwest to continue past Nebraska Notch.
Location: 44.4867038, -72.8333508
The LT passes a junction with the Clara Bow trail. Ahead the trail crosses then parallels Clay Brook (and its beaver dams).
Location: 44.4886385, -72.8366589
Pass a junction with the Nebraska Notch trail; ahead the LT skirts the western slopes of Dewey Mountain.
Location: 44.5025061, -72.828335
Pass the Twin Brooks tenting area. From here, the 3.4-mile climb to Mansfield begins at a gradual grade.
Location: 44.5137816, -72.8194895
Pass a junction to the Butler Lodge and a bad weather Forehead Bypass to the Mansfield summit. From here the route to Mansfield becomes much steeper with rocky corners to clamber around, high exposure, and several trail ladders.
Location: 44.5151186, -72.817565
Pass a junction with the Wampahoofus Trail; ahead continue climbing steeply to the Forehead.
Location: 44.520565, -72.8188552
Reach the top of the Forehead, Mount Mansfield’s southernmost peak. Here also, the route meets the Wampahoofus Trail.
Location: 44.5248347, -72.8163598
Continue north bearing left on an access road (the Mount Mansfield Summit Station is to the right). Shortly ahead the trail heads back into the woods on the right towards the Visitors Center.
Location: 44.5279287, -72.8156167
Continue north past the Mount Mansfield Visitor Center. From here, continue north along the open spine of the ridge as the LT climbs a few more hundred feet to the true summit of Mansfield. The LT passes the Halfway House trail here (which descends through Underhill State Park).
Ahead, take care to stay off the alpine tundra that dots the open rock trail.
Location: 44.5296676, -72.8171967
Pass the North Canyon trail.
Location: 44.5353889, -72.8176636
Pass the Subway Trail and continue north.
Location: 44.5439334, -72.8146362
Mount Mansfield (4,395): At the highest point on the Long Trail, views expand in every direction. Look east to Mount Washington and other White Mountain peaks, west to Lake Champlain and the Adirondacks, and south over the ridge of Green Mountain peaks the LT has already scaled. Closer in to the northeast, spot the “Adams Apple,” a neighboring peak of the Mansfield summit (sometimes called “The Chin”). The LT continues in that direction.
At this point, the route scrambles down an extremely exposed section to the junction with the Hell Brook Trail.
Location: 44.5456193, -72.8117658
Pass the junction with the Hell Brook Trail and continue descending Mansfield’s eastern slopes.
Location: 44.5430807, -72.8099839
Pass the turn off for the Taft Lodge.
Location: 44.537204, -72.7908182
At VT-108, turn left and head north on the road a short distance to a Smuggler’s Notch parking area (on right).
Location: 44.5394728, -72.791258
The LT re-enters the woods heading southeast before jogging back north to begin a steep, relentless, 1,600-foot climb up Spruce Peak and then continuing on up Madonna Peak.
Location: 44.553272, -72.792588
Above Smugglers Notch, The LT swings east around the upper contours of Spruce Peak. Here the trail passes a junction to the Elephant Head Lookout (closed during Peregrine Falcon mating season).
Location: 44.5523082, -72.7811692
Turn left at a junction with the Smugglers Notch ski trail.
Location: 44.5556111, -72.7779579
Continue straight past the junction with the Sterling Pond Trail; the LT skirts the pond just ahead.
Location: 44.5568918, -72.7727788
Pass the Sterling Pond shelter. Ahead, the LT crosses a ski trail as it scales the western slopes of Madonna Peak.
Location: 44.5615245, -72.7586959
Reach the warming hut at the top of Smugglers Notch Resort (also the summit of Madonna Peak). Continue heading east/northeast on the Chilcoot Ski Trail.
Location: 44.559301, -72.7598548
Turn left on the ski trail to continue up to Madonna Peak.
Location: 44.5635997, -72.7561838
Here the LT leaves the ski trail and heads north into the woods on a descent to Chilcoot Pass. Ahead the route crosses the ski trail one more time before reaching the pass and then climbing Morse Mountain.
Location: 44.5738071, -72.7527537
Below the summit of Morse Mountain, come to the Hagerman Overlook of Mount Mansfield (back southwest).
Location: 44.5788018, -72.7409027
The LT comes to the Whiteface Shelter before turning left up a steep 200-foot climb of Whiteface Mountain (the last ascent of the section).
Location: 44.5823557, -72.7400244
At the wooded summit of Whiteface a spur trail leads to a few viewpoints. The LT continues northwest, descending from the summit before curling east to continue downhill.
Location: 44.6033765, -72.7175264
Pass the Bear Hollow shelter; from here, the trail becomes a wide path.
Location: 44.6209258, -72.7229498
Exit the woods and turn right onto the logging road (which becomes gravel ahead).
Location: 44.6417163, -72.7216937
Just before reaching Ithiel Falls, turn left on the Rail Trail to head west.
Location: 44.6428287, -72.7291068
Turn right to head north off the Rail Trail through an open field towards VT-15.
Location: 44.6450305, -72.7282256
Section 10 ends at a parking area on VT-15.
View from Bolton Mountain
Location: 44.439742, -72.849337
Pausing at an overlook of the Green Mountains on the climb up Bolton Mountain.
Location: 44.450119, -72.836661
Looking north to the exposed summit of Mount Mansfield
The Puffer Shelter
Location: 44.453901, -72.838892
Descending from Bolton
Location: 44.454902, -72.838921
The LT gets burly in Section 10
Across the Saddle
Location: 44.457644, -72.837354
Crossing the saddle between Bolton Mountain and Mount Mayo
Location: 44.462715, -72.838499
Views north through the trees on the way down Mount Mayo
Location: 44.4784419, -72.8362656
Descending a trail ladder on the eastern face of Mount Clark
Beaver Pond Crossing
Location: 44.482851, -72.83476
Location: 44.4849331, -72.8267384
Named for the founder of the Green Mountain Club, the Taylor Lodge offers thru-hikers a front porch with a view.
Crossing Clay Brook
Location: 44.486994, -72.835042
Up and up
Location: 44.515672, -72.817947
A trail ladder aids in the steep climb up the Forehead.
Location: 44.5174, -72.817994
The LT enters above treeline terrain for an extended period on the route up Mount Mansfield.
Location: 44.521187, -72.818085
The southernmost peak of Mount Mansfield
Mount Mansfield Visitor Center
Location: 44.5279958, -72.8156662
Lake Champlain View
Location: 44.530111, -72.817339
Looking west over the Champlain Valley to its namesake body of water.
Exposed on Mansfield
Location: 44.537106, -72.817212
The approach to the true summit of Mansfield (the Chin) is wide open.
White Blazes on Mansfield
Location: 44.541757, -72.815734
Continue following white blazes painted onto the rocks atop Mount Mansfield. Ahead the LT skirts the Stowe Mountain ski area on the descent down to Mountain Road/VT-108.
The Exposed Summit
Location: 44.544872, -72.813876
Looking down the exposed summit of Mount Mansfield
Slippery When Wet
Location: 44.54432, -72.811
Location: 44.539036, -72.79072
Location: 44.556557, -72.776411
Ski Trail Hiking
Location: 44.561677, -72.758232
Location: 44.569812, -72.753457
Location: 44.5739003, -72.7526665
Looking back to Mount Mansfield
Sterling Pond Shelter Map
Location: 44.5567783, -72.7727079
Bear Hollow Shelter
Location: 44.6032406, -72.7171326
The Gravel Long Trail
Location: 44.629035, -72.724372
Location: 44.641642, -72.722741