We love the mountains in any season. Being in nature feeds the creative soul, reduces stress, and increases our sense of well being. September in Vermont is a particularly magical time of year. With the heat of the summer fading and the fall colors quickly approaching, it’s a great time to get out and enjoy the fresh mountain air and beautiful views. This September we visited Stratton Mountain, a favorite ski destination of ours, for an adventurous hike to the summit and some much-needed fresh air.
One of the things we like most about Stratton Mountain is the quaint little village at the base. We found everything we needed within a short walking distance, including shops, restaurants, and a lively nightlife. For adventure, local ski shops boast great deals on last year’s winter gear. For relaxation and pampering after a hike on the mountain, there are a variety of massages and other services at the local spa. And for a quick coffee and bite to eat, we didn’t have to look any further than the Stratton Mountain Market and Deli in the heart of the village.
Upon entering the deli, we were greeted by warm staff members and the aroma of freshly brewed local coffee, donuts, and breakfast and lunch sandwiches. Our favorites were the local brew, the “Fogbuster,” and the Mighty Morin sandwich, with roast beef, cheddar, horseradish sauce, fresh tomato, arugula, and red onion. And take it from us – the next time you visit the Stratton Mountain Market and Deli, don’t forget to pick up a fresh cinnamon donut before hitting the trails!
STAY AT LONG TRAIL HOUSE
During this Autumnal trip to Vermont, we stayed at the Long Trail House, a resort conveniently located across from the village at the base of Stratton Mountain. Our condo consisted of two bedrooms, two bathrooms, and a modern, well-stocked kitchen, perfect for large families or groups looking to cook and share a meal after a long day on the mountain. There was also a parking garage conveniently located directly below us, and before us, an impressive view of the mountain itself.
Though the condominium resort boasts easy access to mountain adventure, it also tempts its residents to stay in, providing all necessary comforts and amenities on site. From the pool, hot tubs, and sauna to the full-service spa and on-site cafes, the Long Trail House functions as both home-base for the outdoor enthusiast and luxurious getaway for those looking to relax and recharge. It’s also conveniently located, with quick access to the Stratton Mountain Summit Gondola and the Stratton Mountain Golf Course.
We found the condo incredibly cozy, outfitted in Stratton Mountain’s iconic bear-themed décor. We relaxed by the gas fireplace in the living room in the evening. In the morning, we enjoyed our coffee on the outdoor deck, taking in the fresh fall air and mountain vistas. We felt right at home there, breathing in the crisp Fall air and with it, the anticipation of the approaching ski season.
HIKE TO STRATTON MOUNTAIN SUMMIT
After a relaxing night at the Long Trail House, we put our endurance to the test and hit the mountain. We opted to hike the full face of Stratton Mountain, from the base to the summit. We followed the 1.68-mile Blue Route, which has an average grade of three percent and continues to get steeper, sometimes reaching a grade of 37 percent. While difficult at times, the hike was certainly worth it.
Hiking up Stratton Mountain is a breathtaking experience in the fall. Hundreds of people flock to the mountain to see the fall foliage, while others come to test their endurance and stamina. A variety of hiking trails await, all with varying lengths and levels of difficulty. At the mountain summit, you can travel down a short path to a lookout point where a morning yoga class is offered or continue your hike down a narrow pass to the historic Fire Tower.
VISIT THE FIRE TOWER
Once we reached the summit, we headed over to the back country trail that led to the Fire tower. This hike is 0.75 miles of pure deep-wood adventure. The path is clear, and wooden boards have been laid down in some areas, making it an easy hike. The trail to the Fire Tower also coincides with the Appalachian Trail, on which we were greeted by hikers making their way south to Georgia and northwards to the famous Katahdin Mountain in Maine. Along with the other hikers we met along the trail, we signed the Hikers-Thru guide registration book before embarking on our climb to the top of the tower.
We carefully ascended the steep metal stairs, which according to a local hiker have withstood 150 mph winds. The tower was built in 1921, on the exact spot where Benton MacKaye had the idea for the Appalachian Trail, which carries thousands of hikers from Georgia to Maine every year. Once we reached the top of the tower, we found ourselves in a small windowed room with expansive 360 degree views of four states’ landscapes and the 46-acre Stratton Pond. From the Fire Tower’s perch on the tallest peak in southern Vermont, we were able to see not only Vermont, but New Hampshire, Massachusetts, and the Adirondack mountains in New York.
Once we had taken in the incredible view, it was time to hike back to the summit and enjoy a peaceful gondola ride down to Stratton Village. For those less inclined to hike, this gondola is available for a quick ride from the base to the summit, after which you can simply hike the trail to the Fire Tower, which is mostly flat grade.
Regardless of your hiking preferences or your destination, the mountain views expand in all directions as you climb, which is an absolutely breathtaking sight. Stratton Mountain truly has something for everyone.