A few weeks after our trip up to the presidential range in the White Mountains, Chris and I decided it was time to tackle another hike in the Green Mountains of Vermont. We were looking forward to getting a couple peaks in a short(ish) trip, so we decide that a climb of Abraham and Ellen would be next on our plate. We set out around 7 in the morning, and made our way to Vermont, anticipating a good day for our second Vermont hike!
As we made our way into central Vermont, we started to check the roads and sights for our turn-off to get towards the trailhead. I did have a general idea where the trailhead at Lincoln Gap would be, but I decided to follow Chris and let his GPS lead the way since it clearly looked to be a bit off the beaten path. Once we got through Bristol, Vermont, a charming, rustic small town, we turned off on Lincoln Gap Road and started a very interesting journey. The road paralleled a stream for a distance, and passed through a very small town before we eventually lost most traces of civilization, including the pavement! The road continued as a well maintained dirt road for a while before it suddenly started climbing and twisting pretty significantly. I can say with confidence that that mile or two uphill on the dirt road was probably the toughest condition I’ve put my Corolla through, but it handled it like it a champ, and we eventually reached pavement again right as we got to the Gap and saw the trailhead. Getting to the trailhead isn’t the simplest thing, but the benefit of starting at a high elevation was nice, as we had a good 13 miles to do and were only starting around 10:30 AM. We grabbed our packs and gear quickly and started along the Long Trail towards Abraham.
Considering it took us a lot longer to get to the trailhead then we imagined it would, I took it upon myself to start off with a pretty high pace, since I kind of wanted to get back before it got too late. We started ascending immediately, but the trail never really got to be terribly steep or technical. It was a fairly straight forward trail through the forest for about 1.7 miles until we intercepted the Battell Trail and got to the Battell shelter. This was not only a nice spot to take a quick break, but also a landmark to let me know we were less than a mile from the summit of Abraham.
The climb up from there was about as consistent as the first section, and before we knew it we were starting to flatten out as we finally reached the flat, rocky summit of Mount Abraham!
The summit area of Abraham was actually a pretty cool experience, considering I wasn’t expecting too much from it. The summit is fairly flat, and relatively large, with a great deal of bare rock to accommodate the decent crowd that formed up top. The drop from the summit isn’t terribly cliff-like, but it’s also fairly dramatic and gives you an amazing view of prairies and small farms dotting the forest to the west. It’s a very unfamiliar view to see all these houses in the valley at the bottom of the mountain, since most high peaks are deep within wilderness areas, but the scenery was very beautiful and unique enough to leave a lasting memory for me. We took a few minutes to get a drink and a snack up top before heading down the Long Trail for what would be a 3.5 mile rolling walking towards our second summit of the day.
By the time we got off the summit of Abraham, Chris started mentioning to me that his knee was not holding up terribly well, but unsurprisingly, that didn’t slow us down one bit. After getting to a sub-peak with a nice summit area, we ended up wandering around ski trails before eventually finding that the trail sneakily took a weird turn into the woods that we didn’t obviously see at first.
Once in the woods, we encountered some pretty extensive blow-down in the trail, which we had to negotiate carefully, but that didn’t slow us down much either, since we were really just on a mission to get that last peak and get out. It really was just one of those hikes where you put your head down and persevere even when you know it’s not gonna be the greatest view or the greatest condition.
We went up and down a few sub-peaks on our way, but we finally ended up on the unmarked summit of Ellen sometime around 2 PM. Initially I walked by it, and got down to the ski trails just north, just to make sure there wasn’t a greater summit down the line. Unfortunately, the height of land was the little spot in the woods we passed, which really didn’t have much of a summit area to enjoy. It was heavily wooded and had no particularly notable features or even partial views. It was a bit of a deflating moment after the additional 2 hour walk we took from Abraham to get there, but at the very least, we managed to get another peak crossed off our list!
The hike back over the sub-peaks was a bit annoying, especially for Chris since his knee was really starting to scream at him, but we made it back to the summit area of Abraham in very short order, and we were welcomed by a much better view than we had there earlier in the day. Instead of seeing clouds at the ridge to the west, we could now see well past it, getting a really nice view of central Vermont from up above. We enjoyed the view and a break for a second, before heading back towards the Battell Shelter, then back to Lincoln Gap and making our way back to New York. I was very happy to get back to the road by about 6 PM, proving, as I had thought, that we were making really good time for our day. Overall, the trip was very enjoyable and featured some very interesting/unique views and climbing experiences along the way.
Recommendations: I would recommend hiking Abraham for just about anybody, regardless of condition. It’s a very short hike, and there isn’t a huge amount of elevation gain from Lincoln Gap (even though the road to the trail head is a bit rough). The views on Abraham are enjoyable, and the summit area is large enough to accommodate a good crowd. Ellen, on the other hand, is a far less enjoyable hike up and down rolling hills, and through blow-down fields, without any views or notable features. I would only recommend adding it if you are trying to get all the 4,000 footers in New England or the Northeast.
Difficulty: Abraham – 3, Ellen – 5
Views: Abraham – 8, Ellen – 1