Pinnacle Trail lives up to its nameAugust 19,2013
By KATHRYN EDDY
STOWE — If you’re looking for a family (and dog!) friendly hike give the Stowe Pinnacle Trail a try. This popular spot is well maintained and several stone and wood staircases give the hike a certain charm.
A large portion of this just over one-and-a-half-mile (one-way) hike is shady, with the typical dots of sunshine sneaking through the canopy. The climb is a steady one and many guides say that it short and steep — the Green Mountain Club lists it as moderate — but really only insofar as a trail up a mountain typically is; what makes it seem steeper is there very few leveling out spots than other trails, but there are plenty of great places to stop and rest or have a snack.
The hike starts briefly through a level-ish swamp, then begins it’s consistent climbing. For a slightly different start, you can begin at Pinnacle Meadows trailhead, which shortens the hike by not quite half-a-mile. From this approach there is an old road that leads to a meadow, which is very joggable. From there it is very similar though may be more suited to kids as there are a couple spots that are level and even descend.
Close to the top of Pinnacle there are some boulders to scramble up, but lots of hand and footholds and not as hairy as some of the other mountains in the area. The views are excellent, and for a relatively short expenditure of energy it’s very rewarding.
From the rocky summit if you look east you’ll see Camel’s Hump, the Bolton Range, Nebraska Notch, Mount Mansfield, the Sterling Mountain Range as well as the Worcester Range. Turn to the southeast and there’s a clear view of Hogback Mountain. There are also good views of Stowe. A great view of Mount Mansfield can be seen from the from a spur vista part way up.
What’s nice about this trail is there are a couple of alternatives to extend or shorten your hike. Close to the summit of Pinnacle there is a junction which is labeled Skyline Trail, go left and there’s a challenging hike ascending Hogback Mountain through to the ridgeline of the Worcester Range; from the summit of Hogback the Skyline Trail takes you three miles to the southern top of Mount
Hunger or six miles the opposite direction to Mount Worcester.
Whatever permutation of the trail, it will be busy, as it’s well known. Arriving early or late or going mid-week will make the hike seem a bit more private. As always, proper footwear and layers should be worn, sunscreen, bug spray and snacks and water should be brought along — and leave everything as you found it.
Coming from the Montpelier area take I-89 north to exit 10 Waterbury/Stowe, turn right and travel on Vermont route 100 about eight miles, take a right onto Gold Brook Road. At the first fork turn left to stay on Gold Brook, continue and take a right onto Upper Hollow road. (Prior to the parking area there will be signage for Pinnacle Meadows, take a left onto Pinnacle Road to go to that trailhead, follow the little green signs to the parking area.) Just past Pinnacle Road the parking area will be on the left, there are not a lot of spaces so there will often be cars parked alongside the road.
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