Hiking Mt. Ascutney – The Weathersfield Trail

21 Aug

One of our goals for our time in Vermont was to hike at least 3 times per week to prepare ourselves at least a little for the massive amount of hiking we’ll be doing in South America.  Mt. Ascutney is a great mountain for our purposes because it has 4 different trails to the summit, all within a half hour drive from our house.

Not more than a few days after our arrival in Vermont we jumped right into the fray and our first hike was on the Weathersfield Trail, which was listed as “moderate” according to the Chamber of Commerce.  I hiked a fair amount growing up in Colorado, and even some here in Vermont over the years, but I was not prepared for the Weathersfield.  The trail starts out as a lovely pine-needle covered path, and while it’s certainly uphill, you get a beautiful view and a small waterfall at about a mile in.  After this point though, the trail gets more serious.

The trail

There is a significant amount of scrambling over rocks, it is consistently steep, and there are huge chunks of the trail where you have to pay close attention to the markings since there is quite literally no real path.   Justin and I were not happy hikers, but we managed to reach the summit and were rewarded with the great view.

Finally we made it above the mist!

Why was this trail so difficult for us?  Maybe it was because it was one of the hottest days of the summer.  Perhaps it was because it was the first hike we’d done in over a year.  It could have had something to do with how much beer we’d had the night before.  In any case, we were wiped out, sore, and felt defeated by what should have been a fairly straightforward 6 mile hike.

I’ve been avoiding this particular hike for the last few weeks due to the bad memory, but this week a friend was visiting and was up for a good hike, so we decided to try to tackle it again.  We started out early and were the first car in the lot.  We kept a steady pace, and while it was just as steep and scrambley as I remember, it somehow wasn’t as hard.  By the time we reached the summit we had shaved at least 30 minutes off my first ascent time.

Much happier camper the second time around!

There are a plethora of reasons this was easier than the first – it wasn’t as hot, we had gotten plenty of sleep, and I’ve been hiking and/or running an average of 18-25 miles per week, which I suspect made all the difference.

Nothing beats some Moxie after a long morning on the mountain!

At this point I’ll still call it a heft half-day trek, which is just under 6 miles with about a 2000 ft ascent.   It’s got some great views though with at least 3 excellent overlook spots and a fantastic panoramic view from the observation tower at the summit.

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