hiking

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With its location at the base of Killington and Pico peaks and close proximity to the Appalachian and Long trails, this park is a favorite of hikers. Many through-hikers pass the park on their Appalachian Trail journey from Georgia to Maine. The park is also a popular destination during the fall foliage season for its dramatic autumn colors. Established in 1931 when the state purchased 13 acres of land from Lee Pearsons, the park grew over the next two decades with a land donation from Walter K. Barrows and various land purchases. Mr. Barrows noticed that many passing motorists stopped at the spot to admire the large old trees growing on his property and decided that it should be protected by adding it to the newly established state park. Today, Gifford Woods contains one of the few old-growth hardwood tree stands remaining in Vermont. The stand has many grand-sized sugar maple, beech, yellow birch, white ash and hemlock. The understory is rich with native wildflowers. In 1978, seven acres of forest in this area was designated the Gifford Woods Natural Area. An additional 13 acres was designated as Gifford Woods National Natural Landmark by the National Park Service in 1980 because of the exemplary quality of the old-growth forest. To preserve the natural state of the Natural Area, no trails or development of any kind is permitted. Development of Gifford Woods State Park began in 1933 by the Civilian Conservation Corps, a nation-wide public works program created during the Great Depression of the 1930s to provide jobs and training for thousands of unemployed Americans. In 1933 and 1934, CCC crews constructed the park office and rangers quarters, picnic area, stone restroom building, trails, the park entrance and parking area. In 1939 the CCC constructed a camping area. A new section was added to the campground in 1959. The park continued to grow throughout the 20th Century, and reached its current size of 285 acres in 2003, when 171 non-contiguous acres were acquired from the Green Mountain Club to protect the Long Trail corridor. The town of Killington was chartered on July 7, 1761. Settlers to the Killington area were primarily subsistence farmers, raising crops and tending sheep in the valleys. Logging and milling were the prevalent industries in the area, with several saw and grist mills established. Tourism had its beginnings in Killington quite early. The first tourist resort at Killington was built in 1880, well before the region was developed as a ski resort. The original Summit House accommodated hikers and naturalists that came to Killington for the fantastic summit views. Most of the local families that remained in the area rented out boarding rooms to tourists, and a number of small inns and hotels were scattered around the town. There are 4 cabins, 22 tent/trailer sites and 20 lean-to sites situated in two camping loops. Each loop has a rest room with modern plumbing and hot showers ($). There is a trailer sanitary station, but no hookups. Fire and ice are available for sale. A wooded picnic area is located behind the ranger's quarters with a play area. Day hikes are available and there is an easy hook up with the Appalachian Trail.

Very technical but super fun!

First, let me say that while difficulty is certainly an individual evaluation, based on factors such as fitness level, and strength, this trail does not fit the hard profile in terms of comparison to other trails with hard rating I have followed. I would instead place it solidly in the middle of moderate, with just a few spots deserving a rating at the high end of the moderate spectrum. That being said, here is a review from my perspective.

It was a perfect day for the hike, with mostly clear skies, and forecast high of 70 degrees. I arrived at the parking area around 10am and found plenty of room to park.

The trail kicks off with a bit of moderate steepness, but once that is out of the way, there is a long stretch of gradual ascent that is for the most part easy to follow. Stick to the obvious trail marked by light blue paint marks on the trees until you reach the first ski slope.

Once there you can either head directly up the slope to the summit, a fairly steep and exposed hike, or you can a hook a hard left as you come out of the trees, and move just 50 yards or so up the slope to another left that puts you back on the trail through the woods, following the path to Pico Camp.

Stick the well worn, but narrow trail, until you see the cabin on your right. At that point, turn hard right, passing in front of the entrance door to the cabin, and you will see a sign indicating an additional .4 of a mile to the summit.

This was the steepest part of the whole hike. Continue following the light blue trail marks. You will exit the trees at one point on a service road. The trail continues immediately across that road for the final approach to the summit.

You will be rewarded with some nice views at the summit, although its somewhat crowded with ski lifts and communications equipment, but that is to be expected on any of the ski mountains. Fortunately, the ski lift does not run during the off season, so the summit is generally not as busy as Killington, although at around 200' shorter, the view isn't quite as nice either. Still way worth the effort though!

Watch you step on the way down, as many of the rocks and roots are quite slippery, and be certain to look up at Dear Leap (the cliff face in front of you as you exit the trail into the parking lot). You may spot some more daring types trad climbing their way up to the top!

Great trail! There are steep portions, but definitely a can-do trail. Bonus...found some edible fungi!

Great work out and nice walk in the fern filled woods on the long trail before getting on the loop.

Great hike! Took the dogs with me and they loved it! I don't think this was a hard hike, matter a fact pretty easy. Recommend it for anyone! Great views!

Great short hike to do behind the Inn at Long Trail. Easy to do this as an out-and-back to the overlook, or you can walk part of the AT and make it a longer loop trail. Trail is really well marked. Parking is across the street from the trail head. Be careful crossing Rt. 4!

For a short trail this was really gnarly and provided many a splendid view. There are spots on the trail have stairs and wooden planks to walk on but there are also spots with you are walking on nothing but uneven rocks and other spots where you are on nothing but tree roots. I loved this short hike.