MODERATE Dayhike: 6.6 miles (5 hours) — 65 miles from Hanover
Camel’s Hump, at 4,083 feet, is Vermont’s third highest mountain, and the only one of Vermont’s high peaks to remain free from major human development. The open summit is inhabited by arctic tundra — a community of low waxy plants and grasses left over from the retreat of the glaciers. The views are panoramic, stretching from the Adirondacks of New York to the White Mountains of New Hampshire, and including the highest peaks in three states: Mount Marcy in New York, Mount Mansfield in Vermont, and Mount Washington in New Hampshire. Research into the decline of red spruce on Camel’s Hump has been underway for two decades, making the mountain an important base-line study site of the effects of acid rain and air pollution.
How To Get There:
Cross the Connecticut River into Norwich and turn right onto I-91 South. At White River Junction, turn right again onto I-89 North, and proceed up the valley of the White River. Get off I-89 at Exit 10 (Waterbury, Stowe, VT Route 100). At the end of the ramp, turn left, cross over the interstate, and turn left onto Route 2 East. Take the first right onto Winooski Street, cross the Winooski River, and turn right at the T junction onto River Road. After 3.9 miles, after the road has turned to dirt, turn left onto Camel’s Hump Road. Follow this road uphill for 3.5 miles, following signs for Camel’s Hump (or just keep straight). The road ends in two parking lots, and the trailhead for the Monroe Trail is at the end of the upper lot (this trail is called the Forestry Trail on some maps).
The trail leaves from the west end of the upper parking lot (0.0 miles), swings left as it enters the woods, and begins rising moderately. Please sign in at the registry.
At 0.6 miles, after slabbing through northern hardwoods, the trail reaches the embankment above Hump Brook and runs parallel to it as the grade steepens.
At 1.3 miles, reach the junction with the Dean Trail, which leads left over the south ridge of Camel’s Hump to Montclair Glen Lodge (an overnight shelter) in 1.2 miles. Stay straight on the Monroe Trail and continue climbing above the brook.
At 2.1 miles, just below the 3,000 foot contour, as it approaches a row of cliffs the trail swings left across Hump Brook. A spur trail leads left fifty feet to a lookout with good views. From here, the Monroe Trail recrosses to the north bank of the brook, swings north, and ascends steeply up a ramp through the cliffs.
At 2.5 miles, cross the Alpine Trail (the Alpine Trail, coming down from the left, will be our descent route). Continue straight ahead through glades of white birch.
At 3.1 miles, after curving around to the north side of the mountain and rising along occasional switchbacks, the Monroe Trail reaches Camel’s Hump Hut Clearing and the junction with the Long Trail and Burrows Trail. During the era of the grand hotels in northern New England, a wooden frame hotel was built here in 1859. Samuel Ridley and sons, of North Duxbury, were the proprietors. The venture never caught on financially, however, and the hotel burned down in 1875. In 1908, a group known as the Camel’s Hump Club erected four tents in the clearing, which together housed fifty-six overnight guests. In 1912, the tents were upgraded into a twelve by fourteen foot hut, complete with caretaker. By the early 1950s, however, the last of these structures was removed and the clearing once again was left to its own devices.
Turn left, south, onto the white-blazed Long Trail, and begin the ascent of the summit cone. Make a final check of the weather from the safety of the trees before venturing up onto the exposed peak.
At 3.4 miles, summit of Camel’s Hump. Here in the middle of the Green Mountains spine, virtually all of Vermont is visible on a clear day. Killington and Pico rise on the horizon in the south. To the west, Mount Marcy stands among the Adirondacks’ high peaks, with Whiteface standing alone north of them. Mount Mansfield is to the north, with Mount Belvidere (and its asbestos mine) behind and to the right. Mount Washington and New Hampshire’s Presidential Range are due east. The Franconia Ridge and Mount Moosilauke are in the middle ground, across the Connecticut River.
Here above treeline, the vegetation is extremely fragile. Plants that withstand winds over a hundred miles per hour and temperatures of thirty degrees below zero cannot withstand the tread of hikers’ boots. Please remain on the trail whenever possible. If you do decide to wander over to the edge for more views, be sure to hop from rock to rock. Volunteer ridge runners from the Green Mountain Club are often on the summit during summer months educating fellow hikers about the beautiful but fragile nature of this unique ecosystem. Please help them in their efforts to minimize human intrusion on Camel’s Hump.
The Long Trail, “footpath through the wilderness”, is one of the oldest long distance hiking trails in the United States. Stretching roughly 260 miles along the Green Mountains spine from Massachusetts to Canada, the trail was conceived of in 1909 and completed by 1930. The Long Trail preceded the better known Appalachian Trail by seven years, and was inspirational in the founding of its longer cousin. The two trails, LT and AT, coincide for their first 100 miles in southern Vermont, until their divergence at Sherburne Pass just north of Killington.
To continue our loop hike, remain on the Long Trail South and descend off the summit to the southwest.
At 3.6 miles, at treeline, reach the junction with the Alpine Trail. Turn left here, onto the yellow-blazed Alpine Trail, and descend off the southeast ridge.
At 4.1 miles, arrive at the junction with the Monroe Trail, familiar from your ascent. Turn right onto the Monroe Trail and retrace your steps back down the mountain.
At 6.6 miles, reach the parking lot in Monroe State Forest.