|Hiking Trail Conditions Report|
||Breadloaf Mountain, Mt. Wilson, VT|
||Skylight Pond Trail, Long Trail, Breadloaf Summit Spur|
|Date of Hike:
||Tuesday, May 24, 2022|
|Parking/Access Road Notes:
||Most people coming from the east turn off VT125 at College Cross Road, but there was construction equipment partially blocking the road, so I continued a quarter mile west to take Stream Mill Rd (aka FR59) at the junction with VT125. From this junction, at 1.4 miles is the open gate, at 3.5 miles is a narrow bridge just at the road opens into a meadow. Just a few feet after the bridge is a sign at the entrance to the parking area on the right. There is also a sign indicating this side road is FR59A. Parking for 10-12 cars, maybe more if strategic parking is applied. I don't know if overflow parking in the meadow is permitted or not.
The trail starts at the end of the parking lot near the road sign. The trailhead sign is about 100 feet up trail and is easy to miss as you drive in. |
||Dry Trail, Wet Trail, Wet/Slippery Rock, Standing/Running Water on Trail, Mud - Minor/Avoidable, Mud - Significant |
|Water Crossing Notes:
||I counted 17 water crossings on Skylight Pond Trail. Most of these were either step-overs, rock hops on mostly dry rocks or one or two steps in shallow stream bed (1-2 inches deep). The only challenging one was the first significant crossing in the first quarter mile that required 4 or 5 steps on submerged rocks with water slowly flowing over boot tops. The one that would have been most challenging was bridged with a wooden footbridge. I didn't count crossings on the Long Trail, but all were step overs or one rock step. There was more standing water on this trail than stream crossings. |
|Trail Maintenance Notes:
||Long Trail was very rough, exposed wet rock slabs, several muddy/standing water sections, many tight sections with tree branches at various heights (some eye pokers) impinging on trail and a lot of debris including several somewhat challenging downed trees for people who need to straddle them, but not a problem for most people, just annoying. I noticed many more blazes going south than I did northbound, especially at the turns. Even so, the trail was generally easy to follow, and blazes were actually more plentiful than other wilderness zone trails I have been on.
Skylight Pond Trail had over 12 significant trees/branches laying on or above the trail or leaning over the trail. All but one were easy step overs or walk/duck unders. There were several freshly cut or moved off or to the side of the trail. The one troublesome "one" is actually two or three trunks or large branches, very few that have been trimmed. The main trunk extends more than 50 feet on the downside of the trail and at least 30 feet on the upside and no clear paths around. The only way I could get by was by crawling on hands and knees without the pack on. Even then, branches caught/scraped clothing and skin. There is a tree with similar diameter (but much shorter) that was cut into smaller pieces just north of this one, so someone has carried a proper saw this high up. It is approximately .5 miles south of the junction with the Long Trail.
The trail has few leaves on it and the ones that are are small or mulched from foot traffic. All erosion control areas had recently been cleaned out. There were few blazes and the ones I saw were mostly faded and some were partially gone due to missing bark. However, the footpath was fairly easy to follow due, in part, to the relatively clean condition of the trail. Any possible deviations were much more obscure than the correct footpath. There were no signs of erosion. This trail has obviously received a lot of TLC. Thank you to the trail maintainers. |
||Long Trail is rough in spots with many rocks and slanted wet slabs. There are many streams, mostly at lower levels, but a few at higher levels. One minor scramble between the peaks, but most trail savvy dogs will have an easier time than humans. Skylight Pond Trail is perfect for humans and dogs alike. |
||Mosquitos greeted me as I exited the car so got out the spray first thing. Several other critters flying and buzzing about on trail, but not landing early on. As it warmed up late morning, more landings and a few bites from black flies, so got out the head net and sprayed legs. |
|Lost and Found:
||On descent met an older couple and their terrier (as I was crawling under the aforementioned blowdown). The dog had never seen a head net before so he was a bit freaked out. I hope I didn't give him doggie nightmares. ||
||Skylight Pond Trail climbs approximately 1400-1500 feet in 2.5 miles, but doesn't seem like than much elevation due to trail wandering back and forth across the contours, with several actual switchback areas. The lower portion climbs at an easy to moderate grade, while the upper portion has a few more short steep pitches on mostly moderate grades. The lower portion is much smoother and has the majority of the water crossings. The upper portion is rougher, with more rocks and roots and the majority of blowdowns, but still much easier than the Long Trail.|
Long Trail to Bread Loaf - generally much rougher in all respects than Skylight Pond. First .4-.5 is rolling up and down with various conditions, then a .2 section that climbs steeply and roughly with some rock steps (80% of the segment's elevation gain). Then the trail flattens out with much smoother footing (for the most part) with some up and down for another .4-.5 to the summit junction. The summit spur is blazed in blue and is less than a half tenth to the mini-cairn marking the summit. Net elevation gain from SP junction is about 400 feet. Total gain is a bit more due to the ups and downs.
Long Trail Bread Loaf to Emily Proctor Shelter. This is similar to the other section in terms of conditions. Approximately .7-.8 and 300-400 elevation loss. One slanted slab section, mostly wet, that required grabbing handholds to keep from losing footing. (Likewise on the ascent on the return trip.)
Long Trail EPS to Wilson summit. This section is approximately .4-.5 mi mostly moderate to steep with a few flatter segments and about 300-400 feet of gain. Goes over one or two slight knobs before reaching high point marked with another mini-cairn. Some topos show the summit further along the trail, but this point about 50 feet lower.
The worst mud, standing water was about ankle high and could be avoided by testing the firmness of the trail with trekking poles. Boots avoided any backsplashes that would have caused wet feet in shoes or trail runners. There were also a few stepping stones that were unstable, so be careful before putting full weight on them. Most of the wetness was shoe-top height or lower and would be no issue for waterproof boots.
Some sections of the Long Trail had encroaching trees that obscured the trail and required pushing through the overlapping branches. Other sections had branches at head height that were good at snagging hats, bug nets and poking eyes, so be watchful.
My most pleasant hike of the season by far, but my other hikes were bushwhacks (or partial bushwhack) with various degrees of snow and ice.
Disclaimer: Reports are not verified - conditions may vary. Use at own risk. Always be prepared when hiking. Observe all signs. Trail conditions reports are not substitutes for weather reports or common sense.