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Underhill State Park/Mount Mansfield West: Hiking Trails

Underhill State Park features popular trails that lead up to the Mt Mansfield Ridge, the tallest point in Vermont.   
Trail Activity
Length
16.3 miles, Network
Difficulty
Moderate, Advanced
Towns
Cambridge (VT), Stowe (VT), Underhill (VT)
Surface
Packed Earth/Dirt, Gravel/Crushed Stone/Cinder, Rock/Ledge, Boardwalk/Bog Bridging
Pets
Permitted
Fees
Yes

Description

Mt. Mansfield, the tallest point in Vermont, features a long summit ridge with multiple summits including The Forehead and The Nose and long side ridges, such as sunset ridge. It is one of the most popular hiking destinations in Vermont and can become very crowded, drawing visitors from all over the Northeast and Quebec. In order to avoid crowds, plan to visit early in the morning or on weekdays. 

There are multiple ways up to the summit of Mt. Mansfield from multiple trailheads. Please note that the trails described below leave from Underhill State Park. There are loop options available from the Underhill trailhead. If planning to start and end at different trailheads, make sure to drop a car and plan for the driving distance between trailheads, which can be as much as two hours. 

 

TRAIL DESCRIPTIONS 

CCC Road:

Length: 1.1 miles
Surface: Gravel maintenance road to trailhead
Description: An easy hike, this access road leads to the main hiking trailheads and is much like the road up to the ranger’s cabin and parking area. Vehicles are not allowed on the road. Continue an additional 0.6 miles past the Sunset Ridge trailhead to a scenic vista looking out to Burlington and Lake Champlain.
 

Eagles's Cut Trail:

Length: 0.3 mi
Surface: Wide packed dirt, few rocks
Description: This trail provides a more direct route to the trailheads than the CCC Road. This is a short, easy hike which starts before the gate on the CCC Road, and ends about 2/3 of the way up the road.
 

Sunset Ridge Trail:

Length: 2.0 miles
Surface: Packed dirt and rock ledges
Description: One of the busiest trails in the state, the Sunset Ridge Trail is a moderately difficult, very scenic pathway to the summit. This is the easiest route to the summit from the western side, and the recommended route down the mountain to complete a loop with Laura Cowles, Halfway House, or Maple Ridge trails.
  • To reach the Sunset Ridge Trail from the Underhill State Park parking area, walk along the CCC access road for about one mile. The trailhead is on the left, and is marked by signs and a Trail Register. 
  • The trail crosses several streams, passes the beginning of the Laura Cowles Trail, and begins a steady ascent through a wooded area. Reach a gently-sloped rock outcropping with views of Mount Mansfield’s ridgeline and western slope (0.4 miles).
  • Enter the woods again and continue to climb. Pass the side trail to Cantilever Rock on the left (0.5 miles).
  • Once the trail reaches the ridgeline, it continues to the summit over rocky, exposed ledges. Views are breathtaking. Use extreme caution in inclement weather.
  • There are several short inclines that are steep, like climbing a ladder. However, foot- and hand-holds are plentiful and these sections are passable by beginners.
  • While Mount Mansfield’s highest point (The Chin) is out of sight, the trail turns southward below the base of a false summit. The trail soon intersects the Laura Cowles Trail, and then the Long Trail (1.8 miles). Turning left, continue northward along the ridge to the Chin (2 miles total from trailhead).

Cantilever Rock Trail:

Length: 0.1 miles
Surface: Packed dirt
Description: This is a small trail off of Sunset Ridge Trail that leads to Cantilever Rock. This is a giant overhead rock that protrudes from the cliff like a knife blade. This is a short and easy spur hike, with very little altitude gain/loss. Climb atop a huge boulder to gain views west into the Champlain Valley.
 

Laura Cowles Trail:

Length: 1 mile
Surface: Rocky
Description: This is the most direct route from Underhill State Park to the Chin. Recommended only for upward travel, it can be very slippery and wet to come down (return instead via the Sunset Ridge Trail). Begin along the Sunset Ridge trail and then turn right after 0.1 miles, the trail then climbs steadily up a rocky ravine until it intersects again with the Sunset Ridge trail just below the Long Trail.
 

Halfway House Trail:

Length: 1 mile
Surface: Rocky
Description: The Halfway House Trail is essentially a straight shot to the Long Trail near the Nose which runs along the ridge of Mount Mansfield. Since the trail is more or less straight, it is fairly steep. Ascending via the Halfway House trail and then back via the Long Trail and down the Sunset Ridge trail is a 6.5 mile loop including 0.8 miles of the Mt. Mansfield summit ridge.
  • The trail is very rocky and has small streams running down it in places. During a rainstorm the trail can get very wet and extremely difficult to climb.
  • There is a large flat rock face at about 45 degrees that you need to climb up. This is a quagmire in a rainstorm and is nearly impossible to climb without ropes.
  • Once reaching the Long Trail, a relatively flat hike of about one mile will bring you to the top of Mt. Mansfield, the Chin.

Maple Ridge Trail:

Length: 1.7 miles along the CCC road, then 1 mile to the intersection with the Long Trail at the Forehead.
Surface: Rocky, including some steep scrambles.
Description: An option for a long day-hike loop from Underhill State Park, Maple Ridge accesses the Forehead (the southern end of the Mount Mansfield summit ridgeline).  Hiking out the CCC road to Maple Ridge, north along the Long Trail to the Chin, and then back via the Sunset Ridge Trail is about 8.5 miles, and includes almost the entire Mansfield summit ridge.
 

Lakeview, Canyons, Subway, and Cliff Trails:

These trails parallel the Long Trail along the Mansfield summit ridgeline, but follow adventurous terrain, over and under boulders and along cliff edges. Take them for excellent views, more challenging hiking, and smaller crowds.

 

 

Other Information

Camping: Camping is allowed in designated locations only. These include Underhill State Park (by reservation) and the Long Trail shelters. Primitive camping is not allowed on Mt. Mansfield, as it is high elevation and a designated natural area.  Primitive camping is allowed in much of Mt. Mansfield State Forest at lower elevations south of Nebraska Notch.

Trail Manager

Visit Vermont State Parks or Green Mountain Club online for more information or contact:

Green Mountain Club

Green Mountain Club
4711 Waterbury-Stowe Rd.
Waterbury Center, VT 05677
Phone: (802) 244-7037
gmc@greenmountainclub.org
View website

VT Dept. Forests, Parks & Recreation Region 3: Essex Region

VT Dept. Forests, Parks & Recreation Region 3: Essex Region
111 West Street
Essex Junction, VT 05452-4695
Phone: (802) 279-8329
robert.peterson@vermont.gov
View website

Trail Tips

Minimize Campfire Impacts
Keep campfires small and contained to established fire rings in permitted sites only.
Legend
Hide All

Trailhead Information

From I-89 Northbound: Take Exit 11 and turn right at West Main Street/US-2. Bear right to River Road/VT-117. In about 260 feet, turn right onto Governor Peck Highway and follow to end. Turn left onto Browns Trace Road and follow to end (about 5.3 miles). Turn right onto VT-15 and follow for half a mile. Turn right onto River Road to Underhill Center (2.7 miles). From Underhill Center continue onto Pleasant Valley Road (1 mile). Turn right onto Mountain Road and follow for 2.7 miles to end where there is a parking lot for Underhill State Park.

Click on a parking icon to get custom directions
Please Log In or Create Account to add comments.
trail finder
December 02, 2019
George, We checked with the trail manager. The Story Cut-off trail has been closed. - Trail Finder Team
houdini
November 27, 2019
Where is the Story cutoff trail on Mt. Mansfield??
Thanks for any help!
Woodpeckerstory@aol.com
George Story

Trail Alerts

Trails
Limited Parking
Please be aware that parking is limited at this trailhead. The lot can fill, especially on weekends. Please plan ahead and carpool. Always keep roadways clear for emergency vehicle access.
Trails
Mud Season Trail Closure
This trails is currently closed due to muddy or wet conditions. Please help to protect our trails by not walking on them when they are soft and easily damaged. Learn more - https://www.trailfinder.info/vermont-mud-season.
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