Mt. Ascutney Summit Loop

Mountains:  Mt. Ascutney (3144'), West Peak and North Peak
Trails:  Slot Trail, Slab Trail, Windsor Trail, Brownsville Trail, Weathersfield Trail, Hang Glider Trail
Region:  VT - Southern  
Mount Ascutney State Park
Location:  Windsor, VT
Rating:  Easy/Moderate  
Features:  Summit, views, fire tower, loop hike
Distance:  1.7 miles  
Elevation Gain:  350 feet (cumulative)  
Hiking Time:  Typical: 1:00  
Outing Duration:  Typical: 2:30  
Season:  Fall
Hike Date:  10/11/2008 (Saturday)  
Weather:  Clear
Author:  Lance Montigny

Route Summary   

This is a loop hike from the top of Mount Ascutney State Park's auto road to Mount Ascutney's North Peak where there is an observation tower with 360-degree views. The loop then continues down to West Peak, which is a popular spot for hang glider launches, before circling back to the parking area.

  • From the upper parking area at the top of Mountain Road, start on Slot Trail.
  • Follow Slot Trail for 0.1 mile which will bring you to a junction with Hang Glider Trail. Bear right at the fork to stay on Slot Trail; we will return via Hang Glider Trail.
  • Follow Slot Trail for another 0.2 mile which will bring you to a 4-way junction where Slab Trail goes left, Slot Trail continues straight, and Futures Link leaves to the right. Take a left to get onto Slab Trail.
  • Follow Slab Trail for 0.2 mile to its end where it meets up with a different part of Slot Trail.
  • Turn left onto Slot Trail and follow it for 0.1 mile where it ends at a T-junction with the concurent Windsor and Brownsville Trails.
  • Turn left onto Windsor / Brownsville Trails which lead to the summit's North Peak on the left after 0.1 mile, passing the observation tower en route on the right. There are 360-degree views from the top of the 24.5-foot observation tower.
  • From North Peak, continue along what is now Weathersfield Trail in a southwesterly direction which will bring you to West Peak and the hang glider launch site after 0.4 mile. Aside from watching hang gliders, there are also great views from this location.
  • Leave Weathersfield Trail and follow Hang Glider Trail in a southeasterly direction for 0.5 mile which will return you to the junction with Slot Trail.
  • Turn right onto Slot Trail and follow it for 0.1 mile back to the upper parking lot.

Place         Split
Miles
     Total
Miles
Top of Mountain Road (2800') 0.0 0.0
Mt. Ascutney summit (North Peak) (3144') 0.7 0.7
West Peak vista 0.4 1.1
Top of Mountain Road (2800') 0.6 1.7

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Potluck supper and French conversation. Every third Thursday in Thetford, VT. Call (802) 785-4311 for directions and information. All levels of proficiency welcome. Free... just bring a dish to share.
Next Cercle: Dec 21 2017

 

Map of hike route on Mt. Ascutney (map courtesy of Vermont Forests, Parks, and Recreation)


Trail Guide   

This one is easy and fun.

For some great fall foliage (peaking now) go to Ascutney State Park in beautiful Vermont. I hiked there on October 11, 2008, and really enjoyed the fire tower, fall foliage, and watching hang gliders sailing off into the vast air space below from West Peak.

Ascutney State Park is located in Vermont and is accessible from Interstate 91 to Route 44A to the entrance gate at Ascutney State Park Camground, via Mountain Road (a paved toll road). Ascutney Mountain is 3,144 feet above sea level, and is located in the southeastern Vermont / southwestern New Hampshire area and is surrounded by approximately 3,100 acres of parkland when including both Mount Ascutney State Park and West Windsor Town Forest.

Pay the toll road cost at the gate (about $3/person for adults). Drive right up Mountain Road to the upper parking lot. This 3.8-mile toll road brings you to an elevation of about 2,800 feet. From here you can hike to the summit which is a 0.7-mile hike one way via Slot and Slab Trails. Just before you get to the summit look to your right for the observation tower. The tower is about 25 feet tall and provides 360-degree views, very nice. The weather was great for my short hike, providing approximately 50-60 mile visibility.

Also, from the upper parking lot you can hike to West Peak in about 0.6 mile. When the conditions are right you will see that this location (West Peak) is an extremely popular spot for hang gliders; check it out. One can hike from West Peak to the summit (North Peak) in 0.4 mile.

The difficulty of these trails is easy to moderate and can be enjoyed by all, young and older; just watch your step in some spots with slippery rocks, though most of the trail is hard-packed dirt. The trails here are well marked.

The round trip for the loop hike to the summit and then West Peak and then back to the upper parking lot is about 1.7 miles. Along Mountain Road there are viewing areas, picnic tables and a couple rest room spots.
 




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  Driving Directions   

The trailhead and access road are located in Windsor, Vermont.

From I-91:
  • Take Exit 8 (Ascutney) off I-91 to Rt. 131.
  • Head east on Rt. 131 for about 0.4 mile until reaching a traffic light.
  • Turn left onto Rt. 5 North.
  • Follow Rt. 5 North for 1.2 miles, then bear left onto Rt. 44A.
  • Follow Rt. 44A for about 1.2 miles then turn left onto Mountain Road which is the state park's toll road.
  • After paying the park's fee, climb Mountain Road for 3.8 miles and park at the top.

About Mount Ascutney State Park   

Mount Ascutney State Park is located on the eastern slope of the mountain and its 3,000 acres encompass North Peak and South Peak as well as most of the trails leading up to both North Peak and West Peak. Mount Ascutney is a monadnock made up of various granites and rises to 3,144 feet. It was once a volcano reaching 20,000 feet in elevation but has eroded away with time.

Windsor Trail (photo by Dennis Marchand) Located in Windsor, Vermont, Mount Ascutney State Park offers opportunities for hiking, snowshoeing, camping, picnicking, and hang gliding. In fact this spot is a favorite with hang gliders who, from the launch area on West Peak, end up flying cross-country to the Atlantic Ocean with trips sometimes exceeding 100 miles. The launch site itself is located within West Windsor Town Forest but the most popular access (because it's the shortest) is from the top of the state park's toll road.

There are four hiking trails leading from the base of the mountain up to the summit area and each of these trails are contained almost entirely within the state park. The summit proper (North Peak) doesn't hold much interest since views are limited and it's populated with various communication devices. However, less than 0.1 mile north of the peak is a 24.5-foot observation tower which affords excellent views of the Green Mountains to the west, Mount Monadnock to the southeast, Mounts Sunapee and Cardigan to the northeast and the White Mountains beyond that. The base-to-summit trails average about 6 miles round trip and traverse moderate grades.

If you're looking for something easier, drive up the state park's 3.8-mile toll road (about $3/person) which puts you within 0.7 mile, via hiking trails, of the summit as well as various other points of interest. Along the road are parking areas, picnic areas, bathrooms, vistas, and campsites. In the winter the road is unplowed and used by snowmobiles.

Ascutney State Park
1826 Back Mountain Road
Windsor, Vermont 05089
802.674.2060

Auto Road Season: Memorial Day to Columbus Day

Please note: The summit road on Mount Ascutney may be closed occasionally for park events.

View from Brownsville Rock (photo by Mark Malnati)


Mount Ascutney State Park Guidelines and Regulations   

  • Overnight camping and campfires are allowed only at designated sites in the developed campground. Inquire at the park office for more information.
  • Stay on marked hiking trails. Hiking off trails causes erosion and destroys vegetation.
  • Keep the trails free of litter. Carry out what you carry in.
  • Keep pets on a leash at all times.
  • Trails are for foot travel only. ATVs and mountain bikes are not permitted in the park or on the trail system.
  • Leave all wildflowers and plants in their natural environment for others to enjoy.
  • For your safety, keep away from all transmitter towers and buildings located on South Peak and North Peak of Mount Ascutney.

More Mt. Ascutney Trail Reports   

 


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