Imagine stepping foot on the exact spot Benton MacKaye conceived the idea of the Appalachian Trail, upon which thousands of hikers trek from Georgia to Maine each year. Well, when you arrive at the Stratton Mountain fire tower, you will be standing on on that exact spot. Built in 1921 and now a National Historic Landmark, the fire tower sits atop the tallest peak in southern Vermont and looks down upon the 46-acre Stratton Pond, which is also the largest body of water on Vermont’s Long Trail. It offers this 360-degree views to 4 states – Vermont, New Hampshire to the east, Massachusetts to the south and the Taconic/Adirondack mountains of New York to the west. It is hard to put into words how spectacular the views of the Green and Appalachian mountain are from atop the fire tower, you just have to see it for yourself. For this week’s Venture Vermont, we’ll show you multiple routes to get to the spot with the most breathtaking views in southern Vermont.
The Hiker’s Route
If you’re feeling adventurous, start your fire tower venture at the base of Stratton Mountain. You’ll need to hike to the top of southern Vermont’s tallest peak to get to the fire tower trailhead. There are multiple routes to hike to the top, ranging from easy to challenging, check them all out here. Once you arrive at the summit, follow the signs for Mike’s Way. The trailhead is about 100 feet down on your left. Follow the well marked path for about 20 minutes (depending on your pace). From the summit, the hike is 0.7 miles one way – avg. 3% grade first 0.5 miles, avg. 20% grade last 0.2 miles.
The Family Route
Have you taken a ride to the summit in our new gondola cabins? The cabins give a 360-degree view of the spectacular surrounding landscape. Gondola rides are offered throughout the summer on weekends, and every day during fall foliage season. For specific dates, times and rates for gondola rides, click here. Once you arrive at the summit, follow the signs for Mike’s Way. The trailhead is about 100 feet down on your left. Follow the well marked path for about 20 minutes (depending on your pace). From the summit, the hike is 0.7 miles one way – avg. 3% grade first 0.5 miles, avg. 20% grade last 0.2 miles. The hike is not steep or strenuous for most, however, we suggest that small children who take this hike are able to walk a this short distance (the path is not paved and is not suitable for a stroller).
What to Pack
- Hiking essentials – hiking pack, hiking boots or trail shoes, tall socks, wicking baselayer, rain jacket, bug spray, hat and sunglasses. The shops in the village have all these ready for you.
- Camel back or refillable water bottle.
- Lunch – stop in at the Stratton Mountain Deli and get some delicious sandwiches to-go. Pack them in your backpack and eat them at the summit picnic tabled or at the fire tower after your hike.
- Camera – you’re going to want to share the views from the fire tower with all your friends – and tag us @strattonresort #VentureVermont. I suggest to take a few photos and then put all electronics away. You’re going to want to take in the crisp Vermont air and the views of a lifetime.
When to Hike the Fire Tower
Summer – Try a sunrise hike! There’s something special about being at the top of a mountain when the sun greets the horizon early in the day. Not a morning person? An afternoon hike after your yummy Stratton lunch will be great for the whole family.
Fall – Be sure to catch the world-renowned views of New England’s fall foliage. People travel from all over the country to witness the changing of the seasons, so why not view then from the hightest peak in southern Vermont?
Winter – Strap on your snow shoes or traversing skins! The mainly flat trail is perfect for snowshoeing or traversing in the fluffy Vermont snow. We don’t recommend this for small children, snow can be deep and poses a more challenging hike than in the summer.
Spring – We can’t wait to get out and hike once the snow melts each year. However, hiking on this and many other trails during mud season can be damaging for the trail’s future use and for surrounding wildlife. Stay tuned to local warnings about hiking during mud season.
Will you use this guide for your fire tower adventure? Post your fire tower photos on Instagram and tag @strattonresort and #VentureVermont. Happy hiking!
About the Author
Cassie Russo | Growing up in central Massachusetts, Cassie ventured to the snowy mountains of Vermont almost every weekend until her late teens to enjoy her passion – snowboarding. After working at a ski shop while studying for a degree in journalism, Cassie knew Vermont was her next destination. You can now find her living her dream of residing in Vermont, pursuing a writing career and strapping a snowboard to her feet every day. When the snow melts, you can find her on her paddle board, on the tennis courts and searching for the next adventure.
Cassie’s Instagram and Twitter:@cassachusetts