Putney Mountain
GOOD FOR: All Ages

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

Putney Mountain Association, putneymountain.org; Windmill Hill Pinnacle Association, 802-869-2071, windmillhillpinnacle.org

Bathrooms: None
Water/Snacks: None

USGS Putney and Westminster West quads; windmillhillpinnacle.org/images/maps/maps_pdfs/PMA_Trails.pdf

A gently graded trail through hardwood forests to a grassy mountaintop with expansive views of southern Vermont make this a perfect hike for even the smallest legs.

Take time to explore even the smallest parts of nature on this easy and short hike to Putney Mountain’s grassy summit.

Putney Mountain could be the perfect first hike for the youngest hikers. With a 1.2-mile loop, easy grades, interesting trees to climb, and a fantastic view from the grassy summit, it simply adds up to a fantastic experience for small children. It is quite short and easy, so older kids might find it a bit unchallenging, but a great outing and picnic spot regardless. If you combine it with a stop at a local swimming hole, a lunch outing, or a visit to Putney’s apple orchards (see Plan B), you’ve got a fabulous day for everyone.

Putney Mountain Town Forest is part of a string of preserved ridge-top conservation lands that stretch northward to the Pinnacle (Trip 52) and beyond. Overall, there are 20 miles of ridgeline that have been permanently preserved for recreation and wildlife. Starting in August and lasting into December, thousands of birds of prey migrate through this corridor, some to places as far away as South America, and Putney Mountain is renowned for its view of this spectacular sight.

From the parking lot, stay to the left and take West Cliff Trail (0.1 mile, yellow blazes). Winding gently through peaceful hemlock groves, the trail meets a stone wall, which is a reminder that this land was once cleared and used as pasture lands. Imagine the views from these hills 150 years ago without a single tree on them! The beautiful grassy summit is just beyond the stone wall (0.6 mile). Look for New Hampshire’s Mount Monadnock to the east and the Green Mountains to the west. See if you can pick out the ski trails on Stratton Mountain or spot a hawk flying overhead.

At the summit, follow blue blazes to Ridge Line Trail (white blazes) that will loop you back to the trailhead (1.2 miles). Along the way back, you will come across the famous Elephant Tree. Everyone will have fun climbing the unusual trunk that runs parallel to the ground for a good 15 feet or so. If you look at it and squint your eyes, you can imagine that this horizontal trunk just might resemble an elephant’s trunk.

Plan B:

Green Mountain Orchards in Putney is a great place to pick up fresh apples, pick your own blueberries, eat some cider doughnuts, or go for a hayride. Swimming at Pikes Falls in nearby Jamaica will be a highlight of your trip. With a 10-foot rock slide, waterfall, large swimming hole, and rocky beach, you could spend the entire day here.

Where to Eat Nearby:

Putney has a great selection of restaurants and delis, including the historic and newly rebuilt Putney General Store, which serves excellent sandwiches and picnic fare. Stop by Curtis’ BBQ on US 5 to enjoy live music, a playground, and, of course, piles of barbecue served out of a blue school bus in a tranquil park-like setting.


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