Vermont is known for many things: Green Mountains, a political candidate or two, maple syrup, and creemees (or soft-serve ice cream as it is known elsewhere). It’s also known for its progressive approach toward stewardship and its deep connection with the outdoors and nature. Tucked away in the northeastern corner of America, this small state boasts huge views on stunning hikes along trails that are both challenging for advanced hikers and perfect for new families looking to start a lifetime of adventures in the great outdoors.
Burlington’s Outdoor Gear Exchange (OGE) is the best place to start if you are looking for information about where to hit the trails, which activities do, and what gear you’ll need. For decades, the store, both online and in person, has been sticking to their mission of selling great gear at great prices, ensuring that everyone is able to get outside and have a fun time. They sell the best packs for hiking, biking, and trail running like the Osprey Raptor and Raven and the Osprey Jet, which is perfect for kids.
In addition to selling great gear, OGE works hard to give back to the local community. They have a consignment section of the store, from which part of the profits go to fund The OGE Charitable Grant Fund that supports local projects surrounding access and conservation. Their Nickel Bag program gives money on a monthly basis to local outdoor nonprofits supporting environmental education, recreation, and conservation.
Whatever your needs, the staff at OGE will make sure you’re covered.If you are hoping to get a feel for being a true Vermonter, however, here is a short list of for your trip.
The first and foremost in the Burlington area is hiking the iconic Camel’s Hump. The mountain that emblazons the Vermont Flag is a rite-of-passage for nearly everyone in the state, and with the stunning views from the top of this classic hike, it is little wonder why. For many, this is their first real hike into the stunning landscape of the state and the perfect introduction to what is lurking further out in the wilderness. Part of the Long Trail, Camel’s Hump is the third highest mountain in the state at just over 4,000 feet. While there are a variety of ways to summit this peak, heading up the mountain from the Burrows Trail is a great trail to for your first ascent.
Another awesome opportunity to get out and about, or to reintroduce yourself to the wild lands of Vermont is to take a trip up Elmore Mountain. At just four miles in length round trip, this trail is an excellent introduction and test to see what sort of shape you are in. This out and back trail gains 1,450 feet, making it a perfect trail run or speed hike. It is also a fantastic way to dust off the winter cobwebs and get your legs active and engaged after a few months of couch surfing. Elmore Mountain is a classic trail and leads to an iconic fire tower with jaw-dropping panoramic views. This trail is scenic and fun enough to keep hikers of all ages and levels excited about what is coming next. Plus, it is close to a lake so after the hike you can take a dip in the cooling waters of Lake Elmore and enjoy a sandy beach after sweating up and down the mountain.
For most distance hikers, the previously mentioned hikes are nice, but you’ll be craving more mileage. The Long Trail, known as Vermont’s “footpath in the wilderness” is perfect for this. Running 272 miles, from the Canadian border in the north down to the Massachusetts state line in the south, the Long Trail can be done a little at a time and makes for some beautiful day hikes, or all in one go for an epic backpacking trip.
The trail traverses nearly all of the stunning peaks in Vermont and even merges with the Appalachian Trail for 100 miles. Started in 1910 as America’s first long distance hiking path, the trail was completed in 1930, and is currently maintained by the Green Mountain Club, the group responsible for its creation. The Green Mountain Club has a stunning list of the best day hikes along the trail if you are looking for some inspiration. If you are hoping for an incredible backpacking trip that gives amazing views, incredible trails and the best taste of Vermont’s stewardship and environmental appreciation, this is it. You’ll find 70 backcountry campsites, meet memorable people, and see indescribable beauty all along the way. This is a trail for which you will want to load up your Osprey pack and explore for hours, weeks or even months.
Finally, if you want to hike or trail run to the tallest point in Vermont, take a jaunt up to the summit of Mount Mansfield. Once snow-free, this trek can be as easy or as hard as you want, thanks to numerous unique routes that lead to the top. The easiest place to start is Underhill State Park. From here, you can head up the 6.6-mile, round-trip Sunset Ridge Trail, which gains 2,600 feet, or, for a shorter, yet just as steep, route the Laura Cowles Trail will get you to the top in 2.7 miles with 2,600 feet of gain.
If you want a fun route to crush a few times in a row, head up from the Toll Road and enjoy a 1.3-mile one way hike up with just 600 feet of elevation gain. The views from Mount Mansfield make it amazing, and the numerous routes allow you to get creative and keep things new. Just make sure you fill up your Osprey Hydration pack with some snacks and water to enjoy!