Long Trail

Mt. Mans­field State For­est, Ver­mont

Backpacker - - Public Lands | See It -

CLOSE YOUR EYES and pic­ture fall glory in Ver­mont’s north woods. It’s the sort of scene that’s equally aus­tere and com­fort­ing: blaz­ing tun­nels of crim­son and am­ber leaves, high-el­e­va­tion balds filled with alpine tun­dra, huge moose brows­ing at the wa­ter’s edge.

It’s not all go­ing away, but it will change. Sci­en­tists are al­ready not­ing the slight uptick in tem­per­a­tures in Ver­mont, which has given rise to bark-bor­ing pests that at­tack hard­woods. Ashes, birches, and, most no­tably, maples are dy­ing off, and, though sci­en­tists can’t say when they’ll dis­ap­pear from the land­scape, it will likely hap­pen within the next few decades. Alpine tun­dra, the state’s rarest ecosys­tem, may fol­low. Moose may mi­grate away.

Cheer your­self up by ex­pe­ri­enc­ing Ver­mont the way na­ture in­tended on the 28-mile seg­ment of the Long Trail from Bolton to VT 15 (leav­ing a car at both lo­ca­tions). It’s a roller coaster, gain­ing 9,500 to­tal feet—in­clud­ing a 2,600-foot grunt up Mt. Mans­field, the state high point—but there’s no bet­ter sec­tion for notch­ing big views from tun­dra-topped sum­mits. Do it in three days, overnight­ing at Twin Brooks (scan for moose here) and Ster­ling Pond Shel­ter ($5). The Long Trail has its charms in ev­ery sea­son, but au­tumn’s sen­sory over­load is the best—for now.

TRAILHEAD Bolton Notch Road (44.3838, -72.9147) SEA­SON Year-round PER­MIT None CON­TACT green­moun­tain­club.org

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