One of the must-do runs in the Northeast, Mt Mansfield via Sunset Ridge Trail
is an experience one will soon not forget. In total, it is about 6.5 miles via an out and back, taking the runner through forest lands, over rivers, and past a few false summits on the way to the true summit.
The second portion of the route is wonderful, with minor rock scrambling and a lot of running on exposed rock faces. The summit itself is the highest peak in Vermont and offers 360° panoramic views of the surrounding areas including the town of Stowe.
Parking fills up extremely quickly, especially on weekends. Over 40,000 take this route annually.
Start your journey on Eagle Cut Trail
, just a few steps north of the Underhill State Park parking lot. Eagle Cut Trail
is an easy trail that first bisects some vehicle switchbacks on Mountain Road and then follows Mountain Road itself. Not much to see here as it is a means to an end.
A little under a mile later, end your trek on Eagle Cut Trail
and CCC Road
(also called Mountain Road) and get on Sunset Ridge Trail
(there is signage for this trail and the Laura Cowles Trail
The fun begins here as you traverse through forest, alongside many streams with multiple bridge crossings, and the incline starts in earnest.
After the low woods, the trail emerges into mountain evergreens and eventually exposed rock face up to the summit. Eventually, the trail breaks through the treeline as well.
When Sunset Ridge Trail
concludes near the top, be sure to make a quick left onto the Long Trail (Mansfield to VT108) to truly reach the summit and bask in the wonderful view.
Descend the same route, or for a longer descent and crest running, follow the Long Trail to CCC Road
and back to the Underhill Parking area.