No matter how you feel about the mild winter we have had in the Northeast Kingdom, I think we can all agree that being able to get out and enjoy the spring hiking and biking a couple weeks early is a good thing! We are lucky enough to live in an area with all sorts of beautiful hikes, ranging from easy to challenging. This map shows the locations of a slew of great hikes in the area, but I'm going to just highlight a few of them.
Spruce Mountain (4.2 mi)- A popular hike in Plainfield, VT, the top of the mountain is owned and maintained by Groton State Park. This four-mile round trip hike starts out on a mellow double track for about 3/4 of a mile. At that point, you come to a neat bog and the trail gets rockier and narrower. Soon after that the trail narrows to a skinny hiking trail and it starts to get steep. At the top, there is lookout with a beautiful view to the southeast, but the real prize is the 360-degree view from the top of the fire tower! Bring an extra layer and a hat, it's often windy up there!
Devil's Hill (1.5mi)- Located at the end of a class four road, it's just inside the boundaries of Groton State Park. This hike also starts with a gentle incline up an old forester's road. After a short distance, the trail splits. Your first choice off to the left, Devil's Hill Loop, heads up the east side of Devil's Hill is the longer, more arduous of the two hikes. If continue straight, the road will lead to a trail that takes off to the left. Devil Hill trail is shorter and a more direct route to the summit. These short hikes reward you with a big payoff! Beautiful views to the west show off the rest of beautiful Groton State Park.
Burke Mountain Red Trail (6mi)- Sticking with the theme of starting your hike off on an old road, the Burke mountain red trail also starts with a warmup walk up a slight incline on an open double track road, depending on the time of year, you can fuel up for the rest of the hike with the bountiful berry bushes lining this open path. In about a mile, the trail takes a left and veers into an open and bright hardwood forest. About halfway up the mountain, you'll cross over the CCC road and come upon a lean-to. Behind the lean-to, the blue trail heads up to your left and the red trail continue on straight ahead.
Both trails switchback up the top of the mountain and converge at the summit trail. The summit trail travels a short distance and spits out at the turn around for the toll road. Admittedly, it is a little anti-climatic to reach the summit of a mountain and find a paved road, but it's soon forgotten when you pass the by the tops of two chairlift and head up to the very tall fire tower. From the top of the fire tower on a clear day, if you play your cards right, you may view the majesty of the presidential range, the expanse of the victory state forest and the geographical oddity that is the Willoughby gap! You can head down the way you came up, bushwhack down one of the ski trails or take the previously mentioned paved road. This hike is longer and steeper than the other hikes listed here, so bring your snacks and water!
These are just a few of the great hikes offered up in the Kingdom. Whether you have a lot of time or just a little, there is a hike for you that delivers amazing views of the beauty of our area.