|Hiking Trail Conditions Report|
||Pico Peak, Killington Peak, VT|
||Sherburne Pass Trail, Pico Link, Long Trail, Killington Spur|
|Date of Hike:
||Monday, June 13, 2022|
|Parking/Access Road Notes:
||Large gravel parking area on south side of Route 4 across the road from the Inn at the Long Trail. (Use street address for Inn for GPS.) Warning sign on kiosk says that parking area is prone to break-ins. Room for 20-30 cars. |
||Dry Trail, Wet Trail, Wet/Slippery Rock, Standing/Running Water on Trail, Mud - Minor/Avoidable, Mud - Significant |
|Water Crossing Notes:
||Only a few small runoff streams on both trails, easy stepovers or one rock hop. |
|Trail Maintenance Notes:
||Sherburne Pass Tr - Well blazed in light blue, especially good at several direction changes and where trail enters and leaves ski slope (supplemented with some light blue wooden arrows). Trail is generally clear of debris with a few easy stepover treefalls. The section between the junction with Pico Link and Long Trail has one snow making pipe requiring a straddle to get over, but at least there were no branches sticking out.
Pico Link - Well blazed in light blue, good at exit and entry points crossing ski trails (including some light blue wooden arrows), access roads, some on rocks when crossing ski access road and in summit area are faded, but visable. Treefalls easy to get over or more difficult ones have defined path around. The summit marker is a very faint blue blaze on an embedded rock a few hundred feet behind the building to the left of the gondola station. The trail skirts the building and crosses some snowmaking lines and a service road. There are a pair of two metal pipes along the side of the road, one containing a light blue blaze. the summit is on the little bump beside/behind these pipes.
Long Trail (from Sherburne Pass junction to Coopers Lodge) - treefalls easy to step over or walk under, fairly well blazed in white for Long Trail, but path is very obvious. Wet areas have planks or rock steps. This section is part of the AT.
Killington Summit Spur - sign marking the trail is a bit up the trail from junction with Long Trail and was difficult to see from Cooper Lodge. There are several paths around the lodge leading to camp sites and privy. Just take the path that heads uphill that is NOT the LT/AT southbound. Well blazed on trees and rocks in light blue. One junction near summit has faint blazes on rocks marking the easier route up, while a much more difficult path goes straight up. Either one will get you there. I didn't find any summit marker, but the higher rocky area is obvious.
All trails have some encroaching vegetation in spots, but no major issues. |
||No major streams, but there were several small runoff streams. Since there was recent rain in the area, they were flowing, but possibly could be dry under some conditions. No major obstacles. Warning sign on kiosk says porcupine population in area is abundant, but I didn't see any trace of them on trails. With the water caveat, I think this would be an excellent trail for dogs. |
||None in morning as overcast, a little coo and breezy. Swarming when stopped at the junctions/shelters, but not bothersome while moving. No bother at summits due to breezes. A little more active on trail when temperatures rose later in the day. Put deet on legs after stop at Pico Camp (junction with Pico Link) and head net on at Cooper Lodge after descent from Killington to trailhead to keep them off face. Wore overshirt and sungloves to protect arms and hands. A bit on the warm side, but prefer that to chemicals near wrist devices and on hands that might touch food. |
|Lost and Found:
||Found - Pico Peak gnome - The Sherburn Pass Trail pops out onto a ski slope for a few hundred feet and re-enters the woods about a half mile before the junction with Pico Link. On this stretch of trail (uphill side, right, on ascent) there was a little gnome off to side of trail with "Pico Peak" painted label, dressed in red, white and blue. I didn't note it's precise location.
Found - mile marker 1700 in twigs on LT/AT. (Relates to AT thru hikers.) ||
||Trails were well maintained and no major obstacles. Both summit spurs are steep and rough and are by far the most difficult parts of the hike.|
Sheburne Pass Trail - 2.5 miles to junction with Pico Link at Pico Camp (shelter) and another .4 mi to junction with Long Trail. A mix of smooth forest floor and rougher sections of rocks and roots with mostly easy to moderate grades. Most of the rougher sections still have good footing (flat rather than pointy rocks, dirt between rocks) if you take care to examine the footpath. Trail follows a few broad switchbacks, so the elevation comes easy. After the trail re-enters the woods from the ski trail segment, (about 2.0 mi and 3480) the next half-mile rolls through somewhat rough footing staying between 3400-3480, a nice breather before the summit climb. The rolling continues to the LT/AT junction. There are several parallel braided paths in some of the lower areas, but as long as they are going in the same direction you can take either.
Pico Link - This is the second steepest section of the entire hike, but even then, the steep pitches are separated by more moderate grades. A few of the pitches are technically scrambles, but you need hands for balance rather than for climbing. Total distance is .4mi with about 450 feet of elevation gain. The morning was overcast so no views. I would guess there would be some excellent views in clear conditions.
Long Trail - I have only been on 3 other sections of the Long Trail (Camels Hump, Jays, Bread Loaf-Wilson) and other than the summit area of Bread Loaf, this was easily the smoothest and easiest section. It rolls for the first 1.5+ of 2.5 miles on alternating smooth and moderately rough footing with a few wet and muddy spots (hardly worth mentioning), then climbs fairly steadily but mostly moderately for less than a mile to the Cooper Lodge. Even the rougher sections had good footing (flatter rocks, footholds amongst the roots) with a minimal amount of treefalls, all easy to navigate. (The rolling terrain adds 150-200 feet of extra elevation.)
Killington Summit Spur - This is a steady climb up over very steep and rocky terrain (300 feet in .1mi). Although there are a few spots that are technically scrambles, hands are only needed for balance and not for climbing. You do need to examine the rocks in a few places to locate the blazes painted on rocks. They do provide the easiest route, so the less adventuresome should seek to follow them. I am a slow hiker, but for comparison I took 1hr-30 minutes for the Long Trail segment and 20min for the summit spur.
These two summit spurs would be excellent for newer hikers (or new to scrambles) to develop basic scrambling skills. Hand holds and foot holds are easy to find and easy to use and don't require the use of hands and arms to pull your body weight up and over the obstacles. The hike might be a bit long for some at just under 12 miles total. It's a considerably shorter to do Killington solo via the Bucklin Trail (7+miles) and doing Pico solo is only just shy of 6 miles round trip. I chose this combination as the drive to trailhead is 4+ hours, so I wanted to avoid a second trip.
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.