Filed under: Activities & Attractions, Family Camping, Outdoor Recreation & Hiking, State & National Parks
The Stowe Experience–Part 3
We had planned and scheduled our trip out east that year to allow us to complete as many high points as we were able during our 12 days on the road so summiting Mt. Mansfield was the initial reason for our stop in Stowe, VT. Situated in Smuggler’s Notch State Park, Mt. Mansfield is 4,395 feet high. However, unlike most other state high points, some kind souls have thoughtfully constructed an Auto Toll Road that will take visitors most of the way to the top of the peak.
The Toll Road is a beautiful drive, in addition to being quite an interesting experience, with much of the road taking the car more vertical than horizontal, at least in parts. We did not feel threatened at any point, however, but would not want to make the drive in the winter, if that is even allowed! As we had picked up a $2 off coupon on our stop at the Stowe Visitor’s Center when first arriving in town, we paid $21 for our car full of riders to use the road.
Once at the top it is time to get out and complete the two mile hike to the summit. A primitive Visitor’s Center welcomes visitors with a map and information about vegetation, but no toilet facilities, so hikers should use the restrooms before driving the toll road. The hike was a welcome event for us as we were feeling the need to wear off some of that Ben & Jerry’s Ice Cream we had consumed! The dogs (our three English cocker spaniels) accompanied us and had a great time.
We had arrived at the Visitor’s Center at the end of the Toll Road at 10:42 that morning and reached the summit at 11:25. After snapping a few pictures, we headed back down, reaching the Visitor’s Center again at 12:17 pm, making our total round trip time one hour and 35 minutes. We let many other hikers pass in front of us due to the fact that we had our dogs on leashes which tends to slow traffic on a narrow path.
Having hiked many mountain trails and summited a number of peaks, I can safely say that the Mt. Mansfield hike is one of the most beautiful I have ever encountered. While most of the way it is a simple up or downhill stroll, there were just a few spots where handholds were required. All in all, a very pleasant way to spend a morning! The ride back down the Auto Toll road was equally pleasant with spectacular scenery and a feeling of accomplishment!
For more information about camping in Vermont browse Woodall’s listings of Vermont camping.