Mount Equinox in Vermont

The summit of Mount Equinox.

The summit of Mount Equinox.

My wife and I, along with my brother and a friend, visited Mount Equinox in Arlington, Vermont Sunday. It was a cloudy day in New York, but as soon as we crossed the Vermont border the weather started clearing up. Our friend lives on the side of a mountain that has some really nice views right from the front deck. You can’t see Mount Equinox because another beautiful mountain is in the way.

Mount Equinox is on Vermont route 7A, 10 miles south of Manchester. We stopped at the gift shop and got our tickets. It was $18 total for the four of us, $12 for the car and driver and $2 for each passenger. The gift shop gives you a little token that you use to open the gate to start  the 5.2 mile ride to the top of the mountain. The road is called the Skyline Drive. There are plenty of places on the way up to stop and look out. The top of the mountain is 3,858 feet high. From the summit, there are beautiful views in any direction that you look.

There were a lot of fluffy clouds floating by rapidly. It reminded me a little of the old 1958 science fiction movie, “The Crawling Eye.” No one was afraid though.

Some of the clouds floating by the summit of Mt. Equinox.

Some of the clouds floating by the summit of Mt. Equinox.

There is a building at the top of the mountain that used to be an inn where you could stay overnight. The inn has been closed for at least several years now. I have been on the mountain when it was open and it seemed like a very nice place. It had a bar and dining area. You could only have two drinks in the bar, unless you were a guest. Driving back down the mountain is difficult enough without being under the influence while you are doing it. I don’t know what the limit for a guest was. If you visit the Equinox Mountain website, there is more information about the inn. From what I read on the website, I think it might be for rent or lease. The restrooms in the building are open though. Whew!

Almost all the cars in the parking lot were from out of state. I think we saw one car from Vermont at the top. I decided to take a walk to Lookout Rock. I had been there 10 years or so before and I forgot how far it was. The brochure that you get when you buy your ticket says it is .2 miles to Lookout Rock. The website says it is .5 miles to Lookout Rock. On the way out it is mostly down hill. It is a rocky trail though and in spots it was quite muddy. The rocks were wet in some areas and I had to be careful.

When I finally made it to Lookout Rock, there was a very nice view overlooking Manchester, Vermont. Our friend could identify many of the structures that we could see below. I rested for 10 or 15 minutes before I started back. I thought that the walk back would be harder than the walk out, but I was wrong. Although I stopped to rest more times on the way back, it seemed like it was easier and took less time.

A trail sign on the way to Lookout Rock

A trail sign on the way to Lookout Rock

We had a nice picnic while we were at the top. There are several granite tables and benches about 100 yards from the parking lot. We had some wine and nuts and sat around and talked for a while. It is very quiet and peaceful on the mountain.

We stopped at several of the overlooks on the way down. Signs along the way recommend that you stop and give your brakes a rest. I used the brakes a lot. I have a Honda Pilot that handled the way up and down very nicely. We did see a driver stopped at one of the rest areas. He was using a water hose to cool off his smoking left front brake. My brother didn’t think that was a very good idea because he thought cooling them off like that might cause them to warp.

You can see the Monastery of the Carthusian Order from one of the lookouts. It is the home of the Carthusian Monks that now own the mountain. The Mount Equinox website has some very interesting stories and explains how the monks came to own the mountain.

The man who originally owned the mountain and built the Skyline Drive, was Joseph George Davidson, PhD. He was a chemist who headed the project that refined the uranium for the first atomic bomb.

On the way down, we also met a photography instructor who brought his class to the mountain to practice their picture taking. Although he had lived in the area for several years, this was his first trip up Mount Equinox. We met some bicyclists too. They asked me for some duct tape. They had their bikes on a rack on the back of their car and one of the tires had been burned by the exhaust system. I didn’t have duct tape, but I did have some tape in my first aid kit. He used it and it seemed to work. As I understood him, he was going to ride his bike down one of the mountain trails. That didn’t sound like a very good idea to me. Especially since the trail I was on was so full of slippery rocks.

We made it down successfully and drove south on 7A. We visited an antique store in Arlington. The store was located in an old movie theater. I have been there before and it is an interesting store.

After that, we went back to our friends house and had some more snacks. Before we left, we had a marvelous view of the full moon rising over the mountain in front of her house.

Everyone agreed it was a wonderful day.

9 Responses to “Mount Equinox in Vermont”

  1. Howard Tedder says:

    A very good account of the day. It was nice to get out on such a beautiful October day. I was glad to see so many others enjoying the mountain also.

  2. Wendy says:

    Thanks for visiting RoadsideWonders . . . I came to take a peek at your blog.

    Mt. Equinox is on my great big “list of places” to ride my motorcycle. A friend of mine went to the vintage car time trials there one year and really enjoyed it.

  3. John Tedder says:

    Thanks for commenting Wendy. The entire area around Mt. Equinox is beautiful. There are lots of great back country roads for riding a motorcycle. It is a little worrisome on the way down to see the brakes on a car smoking. I recommend stopping at every turnout.

  4. Barbara says:

    This sounds like a beautiful and relaxing trip. Thanks so much for stopping by and commenting on my blog. Hope you stop in when time permits!

  5. Patrick says:

    Speaking of Carthusians, an excellent and unusual documentary about their charterhouse in France came out in 2006. It is called Into Great Silence and is well worth a look: http://www.zeitgeistfilms.com/film.php?directoryname=intogreatsilence

  6. John Tedder says:

    Thanks Patrick. I will check it out. How did you know that? I thought it was interesting that the chemist who built the Skyline Drive worked on the atomic bomb project in WW2.

  7. adrian max says:

    I live close by but have never driven up the Skyline Drive. My wife and I prefer to hike up starting behind Burton & Burton School on the Manchester side. Its a steep hike not for those not in shape. Wonderful steep climb and well worth the time, bring plenty of water and enjoy the views when you get to the top. Always fun to see the faces of those who travel up by car as we arrive from below to Lookout Rock.

  8. John Tedder says:

    Adrian, I considered it a success when I was able to make it from the summit to Lookout Rock and back. I wish someone would re-open the hotel / restaurant. I saw Paul Krugman at the Riley Center for the Arts in October at the Burr and Burton Academy. It is a beautiful auditorium. I wrote a blog post about that too. http://www.teddersrandomnotes.com/blog/2009/10/12/paul-krugman-and-the-return-of-depression-economics

    Thanks for commenting.

  9. Jack Quinn says:

    you should use engine braking for steep descents like that. put it in 1st or 2nd gear and sparingly use the brakes.

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