Hops & Hikes: The Perfect Pairing

If you’re a beer-loving outdoor enthusiast, there’s no better way to cap off a beautiful autumn hike than with a cold glass of your favorite Vermont brew. Even better: a beer that hails from the same corner of the state where you laced up your hiking boots.

This fall we’re celebrating the perfect pairing: Hops & Hikes. Here’s our very own Steve P. to tell you all about it.

Read on for six trail recommendations from our friends at the Green Mountain Club, a nonprofit that maintains Vermont’s 273-mile Long Trail. Whether you prefer a mountaintop view or a meander through the woods, you’ll find the perfect outing for you. And when you’re done (and safely back at home), we suggest cracking open a can of one of our featured Hops & Hikes brews, preferably from the same part of Vermont.

In partnership with Farrell Distributing, this fall we’re donating 20% of all purchases of Hops + Hikes featured beers to the Green Mountain Club. Thanks to their dedication and hard work, we’re able to access some of the most scenic spots in Vermont. By foot, that is.

In addition to the six hikes listed below, you can find five more “pairings” in last year’s Hops & Hikes blog post.

Stowe/Central Vermont

Suggested hike #1:

Spruce Mountain, Plainfield, VT

Length: 2.2 miles each way, 1,180 ft elevation gain

Photo and trail description courtesy of Green Mountain Club

Spruce Mountain is in LR Jones State Forest, the oldest State Forest in Vermont. The 2.2-mile trail to the summit of Spruce Mountain, a 3,037-foot peak, climbs moderately as it passes through hardwood forests. As it approaches and goes through spruce and fir forest, it becomes rocker and steeper. At the top, there is a climbable fire tower that offers a 360° view of the surrounding area. Managed by FPR.

 Suggested hike #2:

Taylor Lodge via Lake Mansfield Trail in Stowe

Length: 4.6 mi round trip, approx. 750 ft elevation gain

Photo and trail description courtesy of Green Mountain Club

The Lake Mansfield Trail gradually rises near the edge of Lake Mansfield before turning away from the lake to ascend at a slightly steeper grade. The trail brings you through a gorge, past a piped water source (treat all water gathered in the backcountry with a filtration method), to a beaver pond and views of the north wall of Nebraska Notch. Continue until you reach Taylor Lodge, a four-sided shelter with room for 15. Return the way you came.

Pair with:

Upper Valley Area

Suggested hike:

Appalachian Trail: Joe Ranger Road to Pomfret Road Traverse, Pomfret, VT

Length: 5.6 mi one-way, approx. 1300 ft elevation gain

Appalachian Trail. Photo and trail description courtesy of Green Mountain Club.

Hiking from Joe Ranger Road trail south to Pomfret Road is a nice one-way hike on the Appalachian Trail. You’ll traverse rolling woods and pass through quite a few open meadows that provide excellent views and picnic opportunities. You’ll also walk along the “Old Kings Highway,” which is bordered by an impressive old stone wall. Drop a car at Pomfret Road to make it a one-way hike, or return the way you came to double the mileage.

Driving Directions to AT Parking on Joe Ranger Road From Woodstock: Heading North on Route 12, turn right onto Pomfret Rd. In 7.8 miles, take a sharp right onto Bunker Hill Rd. Turn left to stay on Bunker Hill then stay straight on Joe Ranger Rd. The trail crosses the road in about 0.2 miles with limited parking along the road. 

Pair with:

Killington Area

Suggested hike:

Shrewsbury Peak, Shrewsbury — Moderate

Length: 3.8 mi round trip, approx. 1,359 ft elevation gain

If you are in the Rutland or Killington area but want to avoid the crowds around Mt. Killington and Pico Peak, head just 20 minutes south to hike Shrewsbury Peak via the Shrewsbury Peak Trail. The trail climbs past Russell Hill Shelter and then ascends, first gradually and then steeply, to the summit — 1.8 miles from the trailhead. At the summit, there are several rocky outcrops that provide views to the south and east from the peak. If you want to continue your hike, the trail continues along the ridge before descending and then ascending to the Long Trail, 4 miles from the trailhead.

Driving Directions: From Killington, follow Route-100 south. Turn right onto Shrewsbury Road for 2.1 miles. Continue on the CCC road for 1.3 miles to the trailhead. Map it.

Pair with:

Northwestern Vermont/Burlington Area

Suggested hike #1:

Skylight Pond Trail, Ripton

Length: 2.6 miles each way, 1,460 ft elevation gain

Photo and trail description courtesy of Green Mountain Club

Follow the blue-blazed Skylight Pond Trail as it gradually rises and switchbacks to the Long Trail. Go straight onto the spur trail down to Skyline Lodge and Skylight Pond. The shelter is a lovely place to sit and watch the sunrise over the pond. The pond at dawn is also a great spot to see some wildlife!

Driving Directions: Follow VT-125 2.9 miles west of Middlebury Gap. Take USFS-59/Steam Mill Road north for 3.6 miles to the trailhead for Skylight Pond Trail. Map it.

Suggested hike #2:

Emily Proctor Trail, Lincoln, VT

Length: 3.5 miles each way, 1,940 elevation gain

Photo and trail description courtesy of Green Mountain Club

From the trailhead, the trail turns right, ascends on a logging road, crosses the edge of a clear-cut, follows an older woods road, and enters the Breadloaf Wildernerss. The trail leaves the old road (1.4 miles in), and stays on the left side of the New HAven River, before crossing it over some large rocks. After crossing two small streams, the trail continues a steady, rocky ascent to the clearing in front of the Emily Proctor Shelter on the Long Trail.

Pair with:

Check out last year’s Hops & Hikes blog post for five more “pairings” to enjoy this fall.

Happy hiking!

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