Mount Ascutney: Futures Trail

View from the stone picnic shelter to the Upper Valley.

View from the stone picnic shelter on Mount Ascutney to the Upper Valley.

Last week, I took a short trip down to the Upper Valley to see some folks and some quiet time. I stayed at Ascutney State Park, which was not quite as quiet as I recalled from my last trip, as it’s not too far from I-91. But the campers were all relatively mellow and unseen, so that was excellent.

My full morning at Ascutney, I went for a hike up the mountain. I didn’t know how far I would get, as I had afternoon plans, but I wanted to give it a try. Heading up the Futures — or Future’s, according to a few signs — Trail, the first leg was a switchbacking climb from the camping area up through evergreens into deciduous forest. The path slowly wraps around the mountain, so the hum of traffic fades from perception as you climb.

Bare Rock Vista to the southwestish.

Bare Rock Vista to the southwestish.

Bare Rock Vista is the first big landmark you come to. Like the name suggests, it’s got nice views of the south/southwest. When I arrived, the valley mist was still burning off. That made the spot seem even more isolated, as the interstate traffic was inaudible by this point. It was like climbing above a cloud layer without the usual amount of effort.

The trail descended from Bare Rock for a while through tall pines on soft, loose soil, before it began climbing again. The way got rockier, too. Eventually, I crossed a cut-through for power lines and started glimpsing the auto road. Once the path touched the road itself, I figured out the next landmark, the stone picnic shelter, was over the rise.

The sun had done its work by then, so you could see much more of the Upper Valley to the east and north than at the last outlook. Check out the picture at the top of the post for the view.

Despite the overcast look from my starting point on the ground, I couldn’t have asked for more beautiful weather for a hike. Weaving through some trees around the shelter, I could make out a peak of Ascutney festooned with antenna towers. Also up there was an observation tower on the summit itself.

Much as I would have liked to keep going up for a while, I figured that at the rate I was moving, I wouldn’t have gotten down in time for everything I wanted to do that evening. So I called it good at the picnic shelter and took the auto road down. That was probably the easier choice, but sometimes, it was so steep I started to wonder.


About Tyler

In the wilds of Vermont.
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