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Laura Cowles Trail

Difficult

Trail

0.9 mile 1.5 kilometer point to point
30% Runnable
Difficult

Elevation

Ascent: 1,781' 543 m
Descent: 0' 0 m
High: 4,168' 1,270 m
Low: 2,387' 728 m

Grade

Avg Grade: 36% (20°)
Max Grade: 65% (33°)

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Trail shared by Chris Jones

A hard charging trail that leads to the summit of Mt. Mansfield that is short and steep.

Chris Jones

Features Fall Colors · Views · Wildflowers

The state park does close during the winter, and a large portion of the road is unmaintained. To access this trail in the winter will require an additional 0.75 miles of running to get to the base of the CCC Road or Eagle Cut Trail.

Description

Though the Laura Cowles Trail departs off of the Sunset Ridge Trail, your run will actually begin at Underhill State Park. From the parking lot here, you'll take either the CCC Road (1.0) or the Eagle Cut Trail (0.7) to the trailhead of the Sunset Ridge Trail. It's a quick jaunt (0.1 miles) in from there to the junction of the Laura Cowles Trail.

Once on the trail, it pretty quickly reveals its true colors. You climb steadily along the right side of a gully formed by a mountain stream. In time, you'll leave the gully and the mixed hardwood forest behind and start to come into more of the spruce and juniper. The climb continues to be aggressive and has a few switchbacks to help prevent staircase climbing.

There is very little opportunity to sit and enjoy the fruits of your labor on this trail. The trees are thick even higher up on the mountain, and there aren't any outcroppings that allow for a clear view either in front or behind. Though the added benefit of this is that you're protected from the elements up to about 4000'. As you approach the end of the trail though it suddenly opens up to alpine tundra. Here the views are spectacular.

After 1.1 miles of thigh burning, you finally reconvene with the Sunset Ridge Trail. From here its a quick shot up the summit ridgeline for your summit bid. From the junction, turn south and follow Sunset Ridge Trail (0.1) to its terminus when it meets the Long Trail at Thunderstorm Jct. Follow the Long Trail northbound for 0.2 miles to the summit (The Chin).

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Trail Ratings

  4.0 from 2 votes

#7945

Overall
  4.0 from 2 votes
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Trail Rankings

#45

in Vermont

#7,945

Overall
135 Views Last Month
2,871 Since Apr 3, 2017
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Photos

About 85% of the way up the Sunset Ridge Trail, you'll have to navigate this rocky bit that winds through short evergreens. While the trees block the view of the summit, you'll be rewarded with expansive views from the top!
Apr 4, 2017 near Morristown, VT
A one of a kind view from the Chin of Mt Mansfield, looking north onto the Long Trail
Jul 6, 2019 near Morristown, VT
In case you get turned around, look for this sign marking the Laura Cowles and Sunset Ridge Trail junction.
Apr 3, 2017 near Morristown, VT

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