Wheeler Mountain
GOOD FOR: Ages 5-8, Ages 9-12

Source:Outdoors with Kids Maine, New Hampshire, and Vermont (AMC Books)
Address:Wheeler Mountain Road, Sutton VT
Hours:No posted hours
Fee: Free

Vermont Department of Forest, Parks, and Recreation, St. Johnsbury District, 802-751-0136, vtfpr.org/lands/willoughby.cfm

Bathrooms: None
Water/Snacks: None

This could be the perfect hike: mostly moderate climbing with short steep sections, sweeping views from wide-open ledges, and the thrilling adventure of scrambling up rocky slabs.

Even on hikes with the most amazing views or waterfalls, sometimes the highlight can be as simple as a cave or hiding spot you find along the way!

Similar to New Hampshire’s Welch and Dickey mountains (Trip 33), Mount Wheeler offers quintessential slab hiking to gorgeous views over the surrounding landscape. The short distance combined with the exposed nature of the approach makes for an unforgettable experience for families. Much of Wheeler Mountain is on private land, but recreational use has been permitted by the landowners. Please continue to respect the private property and stay on the trail. Two trails approach the summit: Red Trail is steeper with open slabs, and White Trail is more gentle. We describe a counterclockwise loop ascending Red Trail and descending White Trail; if your younger hikers may struggle with steep grades, summit and descend via White Trail instead.

From the trailhead, follow the trail for a short distance through the woods and an overgrown yet beautiful meadow to the Red Trail intersection. Take a right onto Red Trail. Before long, a short, steep section traverses and climbs a small cliff band; you may see rock climbers practicing on these beginner crags. Follow the base of the cliffs to the left as the trail steadily winds up a gradual section and crosses back over to the right. Keep your kids close; this section is exciting but steep. The views of Wheeler Pond are phenomenal as you gain elevation.

After you gain the top of the crag, the more gradual White Trail connects from the left. Continue up to the right into the woods following both red and white blazes as you go. We had a great time hiding in the many rock crevices and small caves along this section.

At 1.0 mile, the trail emerges onto some open ledges, and continues ascending up a narrow exposed ridge to the left. Be careful here, and keep small kids close. After gaining the top of this exposed ridge, the path dives back into low, mossy woods reminiscent of a scene from The Hobbit. Some of our favorite landscapes are these lush, mossy spruce forests that thrive on ridge tops throughout New England. Plan to lunch and siesta at Eagle Rock (1.25 miles), a fine block that juts off the north side of the mountain overlooking the fjordlike Lake Willoughby to the east.

As you descend, skip the cutoff for Red Trail on the left and simply continue back to the trailhead on White Trail. Along the way, the trail passes the ruins of an old maple sugaring operation in a mossy grove, where you can imagine what life may have been like here 100 years ago.

Plan B:

A lovely 1.6-mile trail winds around Wheeler Pond on Wheeler Mountain Road, and the Green Mountain Club maintains two year-round cabins on its shores. While the cabins don’t offer electricity, they are heated and are a perfect rustic pond-side getaway in this beautiful and remote corner of Vermont. Call 802-244-7037 to make a reservation.

Where to Eat Nearby:

There are several eateries just south of Wheeler Mountain Road in West Burke and Lyndonville, both south on US 5.


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