The weather was interesting today. This morning when I started on the trail around 10:20am, it was raining. When I got back to my car at about 2:40pm it was clear and sunny! The weather report correctly predicted the change and it was that report which encouraged me to go ahead and hike despite the gloomy, rainy morning. Of course, it was totally cloudy and foggy during the time I was at the summit, but that's life I guess.
Mt. Ellen is the northern-most peak on the long, tall ridge known as Lincoln Mountain. The southern end of Lincoln Mountain is marked by Mt. Abraham. Between these two mountains, the ridge stays mostly above 3800 feet and has a couple other peaks along it that rise to 3900 feet or more (Cutt's Peak is 4022 feet). Officially only Mt. Abraham and Mt. Ellen, the two end points of the ridge, are part of the New England Hundred Highest list. This is because the criteria for inclusion on the list as defined by the 4000 footers committee of the AMC rules out the other peaks along this ridge.
I took the Jerusalum Trail up the west side of the mountain. The trail climbed 2.5 miles and 1800 feet to the Long Trail. From there I took the Long Trail another 1.9 miles and 600 feet up to the summit.
The Jerusalum Trail started off fairly level but slowly increased its grade. The last 0.5 mile before reaching the Long Trail was rather steep in places. I was interested to see the changes in the forest as I climbed. Near the bottom most of the trees were maple. There were some very large and impressive maples right alongside the trail in places. Higher up the forest became primarly a birch forest and just before reaching the Long Trail (at about 3400 feet), the trail was in a spruce forest.
Once I reached the Long Trail, I went a little ways north to the Orvis Lookout. It was cloudy and foggy, but I could imagine getting a good view from there in clear weather. However, you have to stand up to see over the trees. After eating a bit of lunch at the lookout I started south on the Long Trail toward my destination.
It was fun and interesting walking along the ridge of the Green Mountains. In places the ground fell away steeply on either side and, if it weren't for the trees the trail would have been very exposed. There were a couple of limited lookouts along the way, but they were fogged in.
Eventually the trail began climbing steadily again and soon the trees were shrinking. As the trail approached the summit it encountered one of the Sugarbush ski trails. In clear weather there would have been some good views from the top of the summit lift. From there the trail climbed only a few more feet to the wooded summit of Mt. Ellen.
The top of Mt. Ellen really is wooded. The trees were much too tall to look over. It was rather anti-climatic. However, the summit was marked with a sign and, of course, the trail started to go down on the other side.
On the way back the weather started to break. The limited lookouts were not so limited and I spent a little time at the Orvis Lookout watching the clounds pull back from the valley below. By the time I got back to my car, the sky was clear and the summit of Mt. Ellen was totally free from clouds.
Return to the Vermont 100 highest list.