The girls were whining as we pulled into the car park at ‘The Nose,” the start of the ridge walk up to ‘The Chin,’ otherwise known as the summit of Mount Mansfield.
The bright golden canopy of leaves covering the steep winding roads guiding us to the top hadn’t even distracted them from their bored and surly moods.
Great. This was going to be a fun adventure.
The lady at the toll road checkpoint told us the 2.8 mile round trip would take an hour and a half … one way.
We hadn’t really scheduled in that much time for the walk and I was sure I walked faster than that.
How could I handle their whining for that long?
As we always say with each new adventure with unpredictable children,
“We’ll start and see how it goes. We can always turn back.”
A few of the locals had told us that this was one of the best hiking trails in Vermont and a must not miss thing to do in the Stowe region.
It was meant to be fairly easy yet adventurous and fun with great views over Smuggler’s Notch, the popular ski region of Vermont.
It was blowing a gale so we piled on as many sweaters, jackets and beanies we could find in the car to get started.
It’s been about four years since we’ve experienced cold winters and judging by our clothes you could tell we weren’t prepared.
I had managed to pack an old coat – so old that when I reached into the pocket, my hand grabbed a piece of treasure to reveal an old dummy/pacifier/binky of Kalyra’s!!! That’s a nine-year-old treasure.
Time for some new winter travel clothing. Let me know your favourite in the comments.
It wasn’t too long before the layers started to come off. It wasn’t long before the girls were giggling and playing, scrambling over rocks and wowing at the 360 degree views.
The Nature Effect
It never ceases to amaze me how much my girls will complain about going for a walk or a hike, yet once they get on the trail, they start to unwind.
They find rocks to scramble over, sticks to beat or cast spells with, pretty leaves to pick up and scrunch, as well as enjoying the thrill of pushing your body up ‘just one more hill.’
I think we can. I think we can.
Savannah and I walked together up the last incline to the top of Mt Mansfield. Until we got to the top and it wasn’t. I think it was the mountain’s Adam’s Apple, the chin so close, yet so far away.
“Come on Savannah. Let’s do it together. Let’s see if we can get there first.”
Turning it into a game so she’d keep going. becoming a cheerleader, so I’d keep going.
The air was thinner, the wind was blowing and the hills kept coming. Perhaps it was time to turn around I thought.
We’ll go just one more hill.
Thankfully it was the last.
The Mt Mansfield Ridge Walk
The Mt Mansfield summit walk wasn’t really too much of a challenging walk.
The walk begins through scrubby woods, but quickly opens up to be mostly over the rugged mountain peak with fragile alpine vegetation on either side of the trail and views all around of the Green Mountains, Smuggler’s Notch, Lake Champlain and the Adirondack Mountains and even out to Canada.
Different trails branch out from the main trail. One leads down to the gondola, which is an alternative way to experience Mt Mansfield.
The Gondola SkyRide does not go to the top of the summit but to a viewing platform below the summit.
If you don’t want to hike the trail and just want views then the cost of the gondola is $28 for adults and $19 for children (5-12) The gondola trail to the summit looked like a pretty steep climb.
I’m so glad we decided to complete the ridge walk and at $47 for our family of four up the auto toll road, it was cheaper than taking the gondola.
The girls handled the ridge walk brilliantly. The views were incredible and our bodies loved the workout.
Be prepared for the winds once you reach the summit. They’re designed to knock you over!!
We didn’t stay on the summit for too long. Enough for a chocolate protein bar reward, a quick spin around, a few photos, and of course a couple of high fives.
The walk back down was much easier and faster. (like the ride back down on this family friendly bike trail was in New Hampshire)
Just keep an eye on your kids if you do this ridge walk at Mt Mansfield. There’s a couple of sections with narrow paths and steep drop offs.
“That was so much fun” the girls cried, laughing and hugging as we got back into the car.
This time they noticed the valley covered with red, orange and yellow tree tops,
“Wow, the leaves are so pretty”
It’s amazing how a walk in nature can transform our spirits.
- $23 for vehicle and drive
- $8 per passenger over 5 years age
Get used to toll road charges in North East USA. We spent at least $60 just driving up from Baltimore to Vermont.
More tips for Vermont:
- 6 places to visit in Vermont
- Biking the Sublime Stowe Recreation Path in Vermont
- Check out this Fall Foliage New England tour from our partner Viator
Planning a Trip to Stowe, Vermont
Where to stay in Stowe
Our accommodation in Stowe was this cozy cottage which was attached to a large carriage house on 26 acres of countryside within an easy 5-minute drive into Stowe.
There’s lovely mountain views, a pond, and even a tennis court. It was a lovely base and the owners are super friendly and gave us some great local tips on activities to do in Stowe.
It’s the place to find accommodation experiences that become the memorable destination.
Flights to Vermont
Skyscanner is a comparison website that searches millions of flights. Once you find your best deal, book directly through the airline (no extra fees).