Great Hikes: Sunset Ridge Trail, Mt. Mansfield State Park
Within Vermont’s Mt. Mansfield State Forest are several trails that lead to the top of the park’s namesake mountain. This is the highest point in Vermont and along the legendary Long Trail.
The most scenic and classic hike to the 4,300-foot summit is the Sunset Ridge Trail. Much of the route is above the tree line, providing the best views of any trail on the mountain.
As you hike, make sure to pay as much attention to the plants along the trail as you do to the views. The elevation and exposure to harsh climatic conditions foster the growth of rare alpine vegetation along the summit ridge. These types of plants are more typical to the broad expanses of arctic tundra a thousand miles farther north. Stay on the trail to help preserve this unique ecosystem.
Mt. Mansfield got its name because its ridgeline resembles the profile of a man’s face when viewed from the east. The names of the mountain’s prominent features are named after the body parts they resemble: Adams Apple (4,060 feet), Chin (4,393), Nose (4,062) and Forehead (3,940).
Distance: 6.6 miles RT
Elevation Change: 2,500 feet
Difficulty Rating: Difficult
Duration: 7 hours
Best Time to Go: May–October
How to get there: The start of the trail begins just 17 miles east of Burlington. For directions from both the north and south, visit the Vermont State Parks’ website.