The word Vermont was made from a loose version of French to mean green mountain. The settlers adopted it in 1777 as a unique name for their land. Arguably, the Green Mountain state would not have maintained its blend of rural life and passion for the environment without the establishment of the Long Trail.
The Long Trail was the brainchild of John P. Taylor, who back in 1908 came to Vermont to be an assistant principal at a local school. He quickly noticed that while the area was rich in hills and woodland, there were no established trails for the community to enjoy and benefit from them. In 1910, the Green Mountain Club was formed and his idea for a trail spanning the state through the Green Mountain range was adopted as the club’s own.
The trail is the oldest long distance trail in the United States and claims to have inspired the creation of the larger Appalachian Trail. It was built between 1910 and 1930 and covers 272 mi./438 km. from East Mountain in Massachusetts to Quebec. Approximately 100 mi./ 160 km. of which are shared with the AT until Sherburne Pass near Killington, VT, where a popular ski resort is located, as well as the Inn at Long Trail.
The Inn at Long Trail has been a traditional stop for through hikers of the AT and the Long Trail. I’ve often wondered if the Irish pub at the Inn or the services they offer (beer and laundry services provided for a modest fee.) Rooms are also available at a discount, when rooms are available, on a hike-in basis (literally) only.
The trail ascends several popular peaks with summits above timberline, including Camels Hump (4,083 ft./1,245 m.) near Waterbury, Mount Mansfield (4,393 ft./1,339m.), which is the highest point in the state and near Stowe, and Jay Peak (3,858 ft./1,176 m.), which is just south of the border with Quebec. While every hike has potential dangers from trail conditions, weather and wildlife, I always appreciate the Long Trail for its simple elegance that follows a simple formula of putting one foot in front of another to take you to the next milestone or scenic outlook.
When I hike portions of the Long Trail or its adjacent trail network in the warmer months, I always carry the Ten Essentials plus my hiking staff and camera. In the winter, I highly recommend the snowshoes of your choice (the bigger the better though, particularly in the middle of the snowy season). Some summits during winter cannot be reached with snowshoes alone, particularly those above timberline. Turn back if you are not trained and equipped with crampons and an ice axe.
Had the Long Trail not been established, ski resorts and mountain-side homes may have become even more common throughout the state. The trail remains a landmark and a symbol of the conservation efforts to Vermonters and people like me far away in Peaklessburg. I hope you get to try it or its adjoining trails out sometime.