Mt. Ascutney via Weathersfield Trail

Mountains:  Mt. Ascutney (3144'), West Peak and North Peak
Trail:  Weathersfield Trail
Region:  VT - Southern  
Mount Ascutney State Park
Location:  Weathersfield, VT
Rating:  Moderate  
Features:  Summit, views, cascades, fire tower, brooks
Distance:  5.8 miles  
Elevation Gain:  2060 feet (cumulative)  
Hiking Time:  Actual: 3:20   Typical: 4:00  
Outing Duration:  Typical: 6:00  
Season:  Fall
Hike Date:  11/06/1999 (Saturday)  
Last Updated:  10/16/2008  
Weather:  Sunny, clear, 50 degrees, strong winds in open areas
Author:  Webmaster
Companions:  Jay, Nancy, Simon, Quack

Route Summary   

We followed Weathersfield Trail up to Mount Ascutney's summit and returned via the same route. Great views and pretty streams and cascades were our rewards for this hike.

  • After 0.4 mile on the trail, you will cross a stream at Little Cascade Falls.
  • The 84-foot Crystal Cascade Falls is reached 0.7 mile later.
  • Continuing for another 1.2 miles will bring you to Gus' Lookout with great views.
  • Just 0.2 mile beyond that is the West Peak vista from which hang gliding is done.
  • And finally, 0.4 mile beyond West Peak is the summit proper (North Peak) and a 24.5-foot observation tower.
  • After you finish enjoying all the sights, descend via the same route which will return you to your vehicle in 2.9 miles.

Place         Split
Weathersfield Trailhead 0.0 0.0 0:00 0:00
Little Cascade Falls 0.4 0.4
Crystal Cascade Falls 0.7 1.1
Gus' Lookout 1.2 2.3
West Peak vista 0.2 2.5
Mt. Ascutney summit (North Peak) (3144') 0.4 2.9 1:50 1:50
West Peak vista 0.4 3.3
Gus' Lookout 0.2 3.5
Crystal Cascade Falls 1.2 4.7
Little Cascade Falls 0.7 5.4
Weathersfield Trailhead 0.4 5.8 1:30 3:20



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

Trail Guide   

Weathersfield Trail, blazed in blue, is a moderate trail with pretty (and easy-to-cross) streams and great outlooks.

We started out as a group of five with the intention that Nancy, Simon (a dog), and Quack (a person) would go only as far as Crystal Cascade Falls and then hike back down while Jay and I continued to the summit.

About twenty minutes into the hike we crossed Little Cascade Falls - a small stream that had a gorge-like feel to it. Just upstream, a dark rock wall, loomed up on one side of the water. After crossing the stream, the rock continued on the right hand side of the trail with tiny rivulets of water dripping down at various intervals.

Just beyond this, the trail consisted of a wooden staircase about twelve feet long. Simon didnít like the stairs and opted for the terrain alongside it; then decided he didnít like that either. He stopped halfway up and couldnít be convinced to budge another inch. Heís ninety people-years-old and was feeling the pain in his hips. So Nancy turned around with him and they headed back home.

Jay, Quack, and I continued up to Crystal Cascade Falls. This is a spectacular spot where you can sit on rocks in the middle of Ascutney Brook while the water flows around you. Just beyond our resting place, the water plunged steeply down a tall ledge (84 feet). We sat there and ate lunch and enjoyed the views. Jay and I gave Quack dirty looks as she tried to take photos of us but our moods quickly lightened as she realized her camera battery was dead (we both hate getting our pictures taken).

At this point Quack had to head back down to go to work. Jay and I continued up the trail. At 2.3 miles, we came upon Gusís Lookout. From here we had more great views and could also look over towards the left and see the summit of Mount Ascutney itself.

The next notable outlook was at West Peak which has a wooden deck that serves as a hang gliding launch pad. There were no hang gliders today - it was far too windy. The cold, relentless wind did not even allow me to stand on the edge of the pad for very long before I retreated back several feet where I could enjoy the views in comfort.

Shortly before the summit proper is an observation tower. Although great views can be had from the ground, climbing the tower results in spectacular 360-degree views. Just beyond this spot is the summit proper which has more rocks and less trees than the area with the observation tower; but also has ugly antennas on it.

We got back to the parking area by following the same trail back down the mountain.


VT - Southern

  Driving Directions   

The trailhead is located in Weathersfield, Vermont.

From I-91:
  • Take Exit 8 (Ascutney) off I-91 to Rt. 131.
  • Follow Rt. 131 west for 3.3 miles.
  • Turn right onto Cascade Falls Road.
  • Bear left at a fork.
  • Continue 0.3 mile then turn right.
  • Drive up a short hill to a dirt parking area.

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

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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