Hiking Mt. Equinox, Manchester VermontNovember 20, 2012
23. That’s the number of times I’ve hiked to the summit of Mt. Equinox this year (2012). It’s not yet 25, which is my goal – yet it’s better than last year’s number which was zero. Time is running out as number 23 was getting to be a bit difficult since the top half of the trail was covered in snow, and Thanksgiving is just 2 days away. It’s a challenging hike sure to get your heart pumping. Number 1 took me a few days to recover with sore muscles and all. Number 19 was in the rain. If there’s a number 25 this year it’s going to be a cold one.
From the trail head to the summit and back, it generally takes me 2 hours 25 minutes. That’s not taking any time to enjoy the scenery, or to walk over to Lookout Rock for a breathtaking view, or to walk over and explore the new visitors center and viewing decks that just opened up this year – all of which is highly recommended for the first time hiker.
You had better plan on 4 hours, possibly more if you really want to take it all in.
From the North Shire Lodge, turn left out of our driveway and go north on 7A for 2 1/2 miles, turning left on Prospect Street. Travel on Prospect Street and turn left on West Union Street, right before Burr & Burton Academy. At the end of West Union Street you’ll find a parking area, then you can proceed to the trail head. Pick up a trail map at the trail head and you’re ready to go. Be sure to take plenty of water and a snack or two. I’m always amazed at the number of folks I pass in near 90 degree weather who failed to bring water with them. What were they thinking? Dress cool in the summer and be careful not to dress too warmly in mild fall temperatures, as you’re going to break a sweat anyway on the way up. You’ll be on the blue/red trail as you start out, and will want to continue on the Blue trail to get to the summit.
You’ll pass by some popular walking trails along the way, all highly recommended for a more leasurely walk/hike. When you get to Maidenhair trail, continue following the Blue Trail. After Maidenhair, the trail starts to become a challenge. It is a wide trail and gets rather steep.
As you continue up the Blue Trail, it gets a little more difficult in places. Eventually you’ll come to some signs pointing to the summit, and to Lookout Rock. I recommend taking the right turn on the Yellow trail for about a 10 minute easy walk to Lookout Rock. After that, be sure to walk on up to the new visitors center, where there are excellent displays on the history of the mountain, and also the history of the Carthusian Monks, whose monestery sits on one side of the mountain. They own most of the mountain, and recently built the new visitors center. Views from the decks of the visitors center are nothing less than amazing.
Hiking up to the visitors center is my preferred way of getting there, but just a short half mile south of the North Shire Lodge you can drive up historic Skyline Drive and get there by car. Be sure to stop at all of the pull outs along the way, get out of your car and take in the views. Don’t miss Monestery Overlook, where you can see the Carthusian Monestery on the side of the mountain. It will be on your left on the way up. At this writing tolls for driving up are $15.00 for car and driver and $5.00 per passenger. It is worth it. Great place to have the most amazing picnic when you are on the summit by the beautiful new visitors center and viewing area.
Update June 4, 2013: Since posting this on my blog a while back apparently quite a few people are finding this post on Google. Some folks apparently don’t notice that they are on the blog for my business, the North Shire Lodge. So here’s a shameless advertisement and a challenge. The North Shire Lodge in Manchester, Vermont is a great place to stay! If you enjoyed reading this blog and you plan on hiking Mt. Equinox while in Manchester, then why not come stay with us! You’ll get great mountain views from your room and we’ll even cook you a delicious breakfast in the morning. If you plan on hiking to the summit, then here is the challenge and your reward:
1. Stay with us here at the North Shire Lodge for at least 2 nights.
2. Hike Mt. Equinox. About half way up you’ll come to a wooden bench (where the Upper Springs Trail and the Blue Trail meet). Take a picture of yourselves on the bench. Then continue your hike. Take another picture of yourselves at Lookout Rock, and another at the new visitors center at the summit. When you come back to the Lodge, show us your pictures and come into the Mountain View Pub where we’ll buy you a bottle of wine, or a Vermont draft beer, or a free bottle of Putney Valley Vermont Sparkling Cider. Now who else would do that?
By the way, today was number 43 hiking to the summit of Mt. Equinox for me – but who’s counting? That’s 43 times since July 3, 2012 in 85 degree weather as well as in sub zero temperatures while on snow shoes. Enjoy the photos below, and I’ll look forward to chatting about your hike here at the North Shire Lodge!
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