About a 4 hour drive from where I live is the southern portion of the Green Mountain National Forest, more than 400,000 acres of of forests, mountains, streams and wilderness. Both the Appalachian Trail and the Vermont Long Trail run through this beautiful forest. On this trip we used a section where the AT and LT run together, crossing over Stratton Mountain before diverting and heading off into the Lye Brook Wilderness.
- The Appalachian Trail and Vermont Long Trail share 100 miles of trail in the southern part of Vermont.
- Stratton Mountain is the highest point in southern Vermont and the 8th highest point on the Long Trail.
- Wildlife. The Green Mountains are home to beaver, coyote, black bear, turkey, ruffed grouse, white-tailed deer and moose.
Wilderness Areas are wild: Areas like Lye Brook Wilderness are federally protected lands that, by law, cannot be maintained with any kind of power tool. That means all trail maintenance can only be completed with hand tools. This keeps the land as wild as possible. Expect more difficult passage through these trails especially in areas where there has been storm damage.
This wasn't my first trip to this area, but it was my first time backpacking here. Previously I had passed though on my way to or from Maine and one trip was a scouting mission. When my friend Adam asked if I wanted to join him on a backpacking trip in Vermont, it was a no brainer... I was in.
We headed up late on a Thursday afternoon, reaching the Stratton Pond Trail parking lot at around 7pm. We used the forest road (NF 71) to join up with the Appalachian Trail/Long Trail (AT/LT) and turned left (SOBO) on the AT/LT to the Story Spring Shelter, set up our hammocks, made some food and went to sleep.
In the morning we talked to some of the other hikers at the shelter, some doing the LT and some doing the AT. We broke down and headed back the way we came in NOBO on to Stratton Mountain. The climb up Stratton was fairly easy, but long. No big scrambles or intense elevation gains just a long slow slog up the mountain. If you want a view from the top of Stratton you'll need to climb the tower... it's worth it.
We continued north to Stratton Pond where we had a bit of a break and that's where we left the AT/LT and headed along the Lye Brook Trail to the Lye Brook Wilderness. We hiked over to Bourn Pond where we set up camp, along the way we saw a lot of moose tracks, but sadly no actual moose. From our camp on Bourn Pond we had a view of Stratton Mountain and were visited by a family of loons.
Day 3 we headed south towards Branch Pond, stopping by to check that out before heading back to the car to round out the trip.
If you like being in remote areas, this is the place to do it. Lye Brook Wilderness is one of the most wild areas I think I've ever camped and I'd do it again in a heartbeat. The AT/LT section of the hike was fun, the trail as you can imagine was well maintained and we met a lot of awesome folks out enjoying the trail.