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Sunday, May 17, 2015

Killington Peak via Bucklin Trail(Vermont)

Headed up to Central Vermont early this morning to hike 4,241 foot Killington Peak, the second highest peak in the state of Vermont.  I would be ascending from the northwest side of the mountain via the Bucklin Trail.  The trail head is found by following Route 4 for 5 miles east out of Rutland and then turning right(south) onto Wheelerville Road.  Following gravel Wheelerville Road for 4 miles, the parking lot and trail head are found just before a 90 degree turn in the road.  I hit the trail at about 8:30am on a beautiful spring day.
 The trail closely follows and crosses Brewers Brook several times along the first couple miles.
 Beautiful Brewers Brook.
 A second bridge crossing  over Brewers Brook.
 I took a moment to feel the water and it was cold but amazingly fresh and clear.
Another, smaller foot bridge crosses a tributary of Brewers Brook here.
 For the first 1.8 miles, the trail is a very pleasant woods stroll, with very little elevation change. 
 After 1.8 miles, the light blue blazes turn to the right and begin a steady climb up the northwest slopes of Killington.  Just after passing 3000 feet in elevation, the woods change dramatically, switching from all hardwoods, to predominately evergreens.  Here is a picture just after passing 3000 feet.
 The trail continues a steady climb through evergreens, gaining nearly 1500 feet in about a mile and a half.
 After 3.4 miles you will arrive at a trail junction with the Appalachian Trail/ Long Trail.  Walking around a large, downed tree, I followed the AT a short distance uphill.
Built in 1939, Cooper Lodge sits along the trail, just prior to the Killington Spur Trail.  This marks the highest shelter on the entire Long Trail.  A privy is located a short distance away as well.
 Spotted a patch of snow and ice near the Lodge.
 A blue blazed spur trail leads away from Cooper Lodge and directly up to Killington's summit. 
 Although only .2 miles in length, the trail is extremely steep and rocky.  This section can be tricky if the rocks are wet.
 As the trees grow smaller and smaller near the summit, your first solid views to the north emerge.
 The last steep climb to the top.  The trail ascends about 300 feet in .2 miles.
 Nearby Pico Peak's ski area is easily visible just north of Killington.
Took this panorama facing to the north and east.
 An incredible view towards Rams Head and Pico Peak.
 A large rocky area marks the true summit of Killington Peak.
 Northwest views towards Rutland and well beyond towards New York State.
 A panorama to the north and east.  Snowden, Rams Head, and Pico Peak make up the ridgeline in the center.
 A stiff breeze and much cooler temperatures at this elevation felt good at first but then began to get a bit chilly.  Here is a direct view above the trail as it passes through the trees.
 There are good views to the south and west but due to a communications tower and other large equipment, the only truly great views are to the north.
I was lucky enough to be the only person on the summit for about a half hour.  I wandered around checking things out and admiring the views.  I kept coming back to the north facing views, where even Mount Mansfield's ridge line can be seen
 After lingering for a while enjoying my lunch and  the views, I finally began to climb back down.  Here was a last look towards the summit as I descended.
 The bright sun as a back drop beyond the communications tower.
Passed several different parties on their way up the trail, as I was going down.  The way back was uneventful and actually very pleasant.  Hiked a total of 7.2 miles RT with about 2500 feet of elevation gain(most in the last 1.8 miles).


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