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Underhill is within Vermont's 34,000-acre Mt. Mansfield State Forest. On the headwaters of the Brown's River, at about 2,000 feet elevation, the park lies on the west slope of 4,300 feet Mt. Mansfield, the state's highest peak. Just over the summit ridge is the Stowe ski area, one of North America's original ski resorts. The elevation and corresponding exposure to harsh climatic conditions have resulted in some relatively unusual vegetation types along the mountain's summit ridge. The low, stunted-plants found in the alpine tundra near the summit, very rare in New England, are more typical of types found on broad expanses of Arctic tundra a thousand miles farther north. These plants are fragile (if you hike to the summit, please stay on marked trails.) The park includes a log picnic shelter, built by the Civilian Conservation Corps or CCC, a nationwide public works program created during the great economic depression of the 1930s to provide jobs and training for thousands of unemployed. Many state and national parks trace their origins to the CCC era. In addition, the park contains a small campground, picnic grounds, and a group camping area. The campground has a restroom facility with flush toilets and cold running water, but no showers. Due to the parks hillside nature, it is not suitable for RVs or trailers. All campsites are walk-in. This off-grid park uses solar power for office functions, and to operate the water system. The group camping area consists of a small level field with 9 lean-to shelters, a 0.8 mile moderate walk uphill from the main campground. There is a pit toilet that serves the group area. The park is probably best known for its hiking. There are four trails to the summit ridge of Mt. Mansfield from Underhill State Park. Walking up the gated road from the park headquarters, the trails begin branching off shortly above the group camp area. The Sunset Ridge Trail, 3 miles to the summit, is the most popular. Vermonts Long Trail traverses the summit ridge and, with several trails from the other side of the mountain, many loops are possible. Hiking information and trail maps are available at the park headquarters. The upper camp area, about 3/4 of a mile above the ranger station, has 9 lean-to sites and is reserved for organized group use. In the lower camp area, around the ranger station, are 11 tent sites and 6 lean-to sites. There are cold water and flush toilets in the rest rooms, but no showers. Because campers park in the lot and cannot drive the last several yards to their campsites, this park is not recommended for RV or tent-trailer campers. There is a large log picnic shelter, built by the Civilian Conservation Corps in the late 1930s for group functions.

Incredible views once you make it to the top! We hiked in the middle of December and would recommend crampons and/or walking poles. There was plenty of ice once you start climbing the ridge.

Incredible hike. Snowy, not much ice. Beautiful.

Pretty icy towards the top and above the tree line. Would have been easier with microspikes and poles. But if you’re willing to take your time and risk a few butt slides you’ll be fine. Views were incredible even with the clouds we had.

Very windy at the top with little to no visual when we went, but still a great hike. Definitely bring yourself lots of water! Due to the traffic coming up (as we were trying to go down) and grounds being wet, took profanity back down to attempt and bypass some people and to be more covered from the winds.

Everybit as breathtaking as the reviews suggest. Mid november there was considerable ice on the trail, and was glad to have brought some strap on spikes. The hike itself was pleasant enough, although not as difficult as it is rated. It has a few short sections where you need to be mindfull, but no real consequences to speak of.

The days started clear but was cloud covered when we summitted, so will trya nd make it back to spend some time on the long trail when visibility is better.

Highly recommend this hike. Its a real gem.

Ascended Laura Cowles and Descended Sunset Ridge in mid-November. There was considerable snow even at lower elevations. And a fair amount of ice once you get above about 3,000’. Definitely recommend spikes at a minimum due to the trail conditions. Poles would be helpful, too.

As far as rating difficulty level, I would say this is pretty much right in the middle of moderate on a scale of easy to difficult. Much less challenging than many of the New England 4,000’ers I’ve done. But would certainly be strenuous, though definitely doable, for someone in average physical condition who isn’t accustomed to alpine hikes. I would say this is a very good introductory test for someone looking to evaluate their fitness and interest in mountain hiking as a pass time. Once you get to the top and get that payoff in the way of awe-inspiring views, you will get the bug. No doubt.

Laura Cowles, with the fresh snow cover, was beautiful from start to finish. Some beautiful and interesting rock formations, as well as some very cool ice formations at various places along the way. Portions of the trail are actually a small stream. Like, you’re walking IN the stream. At least at this time of year. Maybe it’s intermittent. I can’t say for sure. But be sure to have proper footwear.

The summit is beautiful. We were fortunate to have done this hike on a crystal clear day with the added benefit of fresh snow cover on the surrounding area. It made for gorgeous views. Could clearly see Champlain, the Adirondacks, the Green Mountains, and the Whites, all from the rock bluffs at the summit.

I wish I could give it something between the 4 and 5 star rating. It is worthy of 5 stars, for sure. It is visually interesting, mildly challenging, and quite serene. I only give it 4 stars because comparatively speaking, having done some otherworldly trails in the Whites, this one falls just a bit short for me. Again, this is strictly comparatively speaking. It doesn’t fall short of being incredible by any measure. I will absolutely do it again. And I look forward to it. Highly recommend this as a visually beautiful and satisfying day hike that is very much doable in a relatively short day, as opposed to some of the longer trails in the Whites that make for a very long, but very gratifying, day in the trail.

So in summary, do it. It’s fantastic.

hiking
1 month ago

hiking
1 month ago

bit muddy and wet. crazy views througout the hike. some tricky rock scramble sections. very well marked.

We hiked up Laura Cowles trail and down Sunset. Laura was more brutal than I expected. Be prepared to stop periodically and let your heart slow down! Lots of stretches of wet rock staircases. Very windy at the top. Sunset was not difficult to get down.

Great trail! Great view!