Scenic Views in the Deerfield Valley
I grew up in the Wilmington area and spent about 20 years in Colorado. In both places, hiking has been a significant part of my life. Hiking in Colorado affords many above treeline hikes with majestic mountain views. Southern Vermont hikes may not offer the rocky peaks with miles and miles of vistas, but there are many places around the area to get a worthwhile view and to take in the scenery. (And without having to worry about oxygen levels!)
As a child, my family and I hiked Mt. Olga (the former Hogback ski area) many times. It was an easy walk from our home. Now one can access the trailhead from the parking lot by Vermont Distillers in Marlboro via the “Tower Trail”. A well-marked trail takes you to the summit and the fire tower. Along the path to the summit, several former trails have been cleared and offer views to the east. The trail gradually climbs for about a mile. The views from the tower are worth the white-knuckled (at least for me!) climb! I find it a bit challenging to climb the tower with young children, as the hand railing is more at an adult level.
If you are interested in some area history, you can follow the snowmobile or Bishop’s trail to the bottom where you can still see remnants of the hot chocolate shack and T-bars. The Hogback Mountain Conservation Association has cleared around Bishop’s cellar hole a little further along the trail. In 1779 Sylvester Bishop and his family built a house and farmed the area.
Your trip to Hogback would not be complete without a visit to at least the observation deck of the Hogback Mountain Country Store. I enjoy the view most in the early morning. Often you can see the fog rising from the Connecticut River as it snakes its way north to south.
Looking for more fire tower views Stratton Mountain is another option. This well-traveled section of the Long Trail is a bit rocky and a little less than 8 miles round trip. There are a few spots along the ascent where you can catch a glimpse of a distant view, but most of the trail is through the woods and is shaded. The view from the fire tower is worth it.
I feel it’s worth the time to hike Mount Snow. In a little more than an hour, you will be at the top to appreciate the spectacular views. It’s a hike I do many times a year. Most of the hike is not shaded, so plan accordingly. It’s a great early evening hike for a picnic dinner at the summit. Not up for the climb? You could ride the Blue Bird Express to the top. Check out their site for prices and hours of operation.
If you are looking for scenery including water, give the Catamount Cross Country trail along Lake Whitingham a try. It follows the old railroad bed on the west of the lake and is a pretty gentle hike. You will get a few lake views along the way. This trail is a point-to-point trail or could be an out and back. It is about 7 miles (one way) to completely walk the length of the lake.
I have always enjoyed walking along lake Raponda road as you are in view of the lake for most of the walk. Looking back at the lake from the north end is particularly pretty.
If you want to venture a little further, Grout Pond trail offers views of the remote lake. This hike is not quite 3-miles long and circles the pond. This is especially nice in fall when the leaves change color.
Hamilton Falls is a great, yet popular, picnic area. These falls are geologically unique. The Cobb Brook flows over the large bedrock and has carved several large potholes along as the falls descend. The volume of water flowing through this brook fluctuates with the season, so expect less water in the summer months. There are several trails to take you to the falls- the website can help you find the one suitable for your hiking group.
Looking for a picturesque drive? White’s road in Wilmington affords a panoramic view of the Wilmington-Dover area. It’s particularly stunning at sunset.
While there are many other places of beauty in the area, these are a few of my favorites.
Written by Bridget Cole. Bridget grew up in Wilmington. After spending a few decades in New York and Colorado, she is currently back in Southern Vermont. She is a former dairy farmer and current educator. She enjoys hiking and biking and being outdoors.