After a long winter of wishing it was spring and a long spring of wishing it was spring (are you confused yet) Andrew and I finally got to strap on our boots and conquer another mountain. Over the winter I ended up making yet another relocation this time I packed up my things and headed back to the empire state to kind of officially start life with Sarah. Given logistics and the crazy as hell year I have on my platter Andrew and I figured it would be best to focus on the Green Mountains this year as it would be much easier on travel to knock out the Vermont climbs. With all that being said we decided to start on Killington.
We headed out from my parents place just after 7:00 a.m. on what we had figured to about a 2 hour drive to the Bucklin Trailhead in Mendon, VT. After a couple pit stops in Lake George and Rutland we found Wheelerville Road which is a windy dirt road directly off of Rte. 4. After weaving down the road we spotted the trailhead right next to a sharp turn on the road (if you use gps this will be pretty obvious).
I put on my brand new boots and Andrew and I took off down the trail towards Killington. From all things I had seen before the day we were in store for a pretty basic out and back hike. The way things started I couldn’t have been more pleased. The trail was about as well maintained and dry as anything I have ever hiked on and it would continue on like this for a long time. Andrew and I briskly walked until we came to what I would describe as a partially decapitated tree where we stopped to kind of digest what we had seen so far.
Up to that point I had a long sleeve windbreaker on mainly as a black fly barrier since those little irritants were out in full force this day, but I needed to shed the extra layer because I was beginning to overheat. We kept on walking from that point noticing some nice bridge work done over some of the smaller streams that crossed the trail which in itself remained in fantastic condition. We kept up this pace until I happened to notice a nice turn off leading to a waterfall so we stopped to check it out.
I didn’t really want to stick around too long since the longer I stood still the easier it was for the black flies to consume my flesh. We quickly packed up and headed back on the trail towards the top. At some point around 2 miles in Andrew and I knew to expect a sharp increase in elevation. Up to that point the hike was a very easy gentle almost completely flat walk but sure enough we hit steep section as expected.
Andrew started feeling it in his legs, and really so did I. A few weeks back I suffered a hamstring tear which forced me out of my workout regimen for a little while so I wasn’t as strong as I like, and Andrew was coming off of a winter which didn’t consist of too much physically. So the fatigue was expected coming into the day. Nonetheless I didn’t find the trail to be too overbearing and with the exception of one notable blowdown it was still in unbelievably good shape. Before too long we came to a trail junction where we would head to the Cooper Lodge area.
We walked what seemed like only a few hundred feet until I noticed some strange orange tape over a bunch of trees. I couldn’t really see everything due to the fact the sun was directly behind it but Andrew noticed that it was the lodge we read about. We didn’t bother going in at this point, but we figured we would hit it on the way back down. We then found the Killington Spur trail sign just ahead.
After passing the sign we noticed the trail got extremely steep. Andrew and I briefly debated whether or not to call this a “scramble” until I eventually conceded my argument to Andrew after finding myself using some handholds. This would have been easier had it not been for some inconsiderate hikers leaving trash along the trail which I always feel obligated to pick up. Basically one hand had garbage in it and the other had my camera. Probably could’ve been safer than that, but here I am typing this so no harm. Anyway after breaking tree line I turned around to observe the surroundings and I was met with a great view of the valley below. This was not to be overshadowed by the remarkable cell service at the top due to the massive tower gracing the summit. Overall though we couldn’t be happier with the day as we checked off our first Vermont summit.
In my mind the summit provided 2 different experiences. One side of it was a beautiful serene landscape which I feel most people would pay to come see. However the other side consisted of a broken down fire tower, radio towers, graffiti and trash. I spent a good minute picking up the treasure which equaled approximately $.35 in recyclable returns and other miscellaneous trash before packing up and getting ready to head out. Even though I was disappointed in some that fouled up the summit before me I was still happy with our day.
We started to head back down the Killington Spur trail which was a little more treacherous on the descent due to the amount of loose rock and gravel that was abundant. Once we were past that however we figured it would be smooth sailing for us. Before heading out for good we decided to take a peek inside of Cooper Lodge to see what it was all about. Essentially what we saw was a dark cabin consisting of 4 bunks, a table with various initials scrawled into it, and the remnants of alcoholic beverages hanging from the roof. Nothing too impressive, but for the weary Appalachian Trail hiker needed a spot for the night it probably gets the job done.
After vacating the lodge we took off on the straight forward hike back down the mountain. We really didn’t stop other than to momentarily relieve ourselves as the nice trail really did not necessitate it. I started to hear the sound of the stream we had paralleled for the first couple miles getting louder so I knew we were getting back to the flatter section at that point. Once we were back on the flats we assumed our 2 mile 40 minute victory march back to the trailhead.
Recommendation to hikers: Killington is a great mountain for anyone whether you are an experience mountain slayer needing a more low key hike or a beginner trying to get yourself started. Its as straight forward of a climb as any I have done, a 7.4 mile out and back that is almost impossible to make a wrong turn on. You will be rewarded with nice view of the surrounding Green Mountains and of course great cell service…On a side note please make sure you carry out what you take in…not trying to lecture but it drives me crazy when I have to pick up after others who don’t seem to care.
Killington: Views – 7 Difficulty – 3