Thursday, October 1, 2009

Mt. Equinox: Bennington County, VT

Directions: Click here for Google map

Mt. Equinox is the highest peak in the Taconic Mountain Range. This mountain range is part of the Appalachian Mountain system and includes mountains from Vermont, New York and Massachusetts. At an elevation of 3,848 feet, Mt. Equinox is sure to please with amazing views from many overlooks!

The Mount Equinox Skyline Drive is the longest privately owned paved toll road in the USA (5.2 miles). It's a beautiful drive to the top with many places to turn off and picnic. A variety of hiking trails are available, ranging from an easy .02 miles to a very challenging 4 miles. The mountain includes a gift shop and restroom at the base and an inn with public restrooms at the summit (built in 1949). I'm not sure whether the inn allows dogs, as we didn't stay overnight.

Mt. Equinox features some very interesting history. For example, over 100 years ago it was quite popular for people to hike to the summit (since that was the only way of reaching the top). Along the way, many hikers carved their names and the date of their hike into the soft rock ledges that existed. While the inn was being built, these old ledges were accidentally discovered and many carvings were preserved inside the inn. They include P.B. Wilcox (1843), E.B. Warren (1851), and L. Brown (1815) whose descendants still live in the valley today.

There also happens to be a monastery within viewing distance of Mt. Equinox (if you're going up the mountain, it will be on your left about halfway up).  You can find more great info at the website.

Information source:

Here are the positive features:
  • There are many hiking trails, some starting at the bottom and some just around the top
  • You can easily drive to the summit on a nicely paved road
  • Clean restrooms are available at the bottom and top
  • There's a great farm store & ice cream shop down the street (turn left when exiting Mt. Equinox)
  • There are 360 degree breathtaking views
  • Plenty of parking at the summit
Negative features:
  • It costs $12 per car & driver, plus $2 for each passenger, to take the toll road to the top (kids are free)
  • There didn't seem to be any restaurants close by, but Manchester is not too far away

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