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Laura Cowles Trail

Difficult
 4.3 (3)

A hard charging trail that leads to the summit of Mt. Mansfield that is short and steep.


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Map Key

0.9

Miles

1.5

KM

Point to Point

4,168' 1,270 m

High

2,387' 728 m

Low

1,781' 543 m

Up

0' 0 m

Down

36%

Avg Grade (20°)

65%

Max Grade (33°)

Dogs Leashed

Features Fall Colors · Views · Wildflowers

The state park does close during the winter, and a large portion of the road is unmaintained. To access this trail in the winter will require an additional 0.75 miles of hiking to get to the base of the CCC Road or Eagle Cut Trail.

Description

Though the Laura Cowles Trail departs off of the Sunset Ridge Trail, your hike will actually begin at Underhill State Park. From the parking lot here, you'll take either the CCC Road (1.0) or the Eagle Cut Trail (0.7) to the trailhead of the Sunset Ridge Trail. It's a quick jaunt (0.1 miles) in from there to the junction of the Laura Cowles Trail.

Once on the trail, it pretty quickly reveals its true colors. You climb steadily along the right side of a gully formed by a mountain stream. In time, you'll leave the gully and the mixed hardwood forest behind and start to come into more of the spruce and juniper. The climb continues to be aggressive and has a few switchbacks to help prevent staircase climbing.

There is very little opportunity to sit and enjoy the fruits of your labor on this trail. The trees are thick even higher up on the mountain, and there aren't any outcroppings that allow for a clear view either in front or behind. Though the added benefit of this is that you're protected from the elements up to about 4000'. As you approach the end of the trail though it suddenly opens up to alpine tundra. Here the views are spectacular.

After 1.1 miles of thigh burning, you finally reconvene with the Sunset Ridge Trail. From here its a quick shot up the summit ridgeline for your summit bid. From the junction, turn south and follow Sunset Ridge Trail (0.1) to its terminus when it meets the Long Trail at Thunderstorm Jct. Follow the Long Trail northbound for 0.2 miles to the summit (The Chin).

Contacts

Shared By:

Chris Jones

Trail Ratings

  4.3 from 3 votes

#8972

Overall
  4.3 from 3 votes
5 Star
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3 Star
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Trail Rankings

#82

in Vermont

#8,972

Overall
34 Views Last Month
4,829 Since Apr 3, 2017
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Photos

A one of a kind view from the Chin of Mt Mansfield, looking north onto the Long Trail
Jul 6, 2019 near Morristown, VT
About 85% of the way up the Sunset Ridge Trail, you'll have to navigate this rocky bit that winds through short evergreens. While the trees block the view of the summit, you'll be rewarded with expansive views from the top!
Apr 4, 2017 near Morristown, VT
In case you get turned around, look for this sign marking the Laura Cowles and Sunset Ridge Trail junction.
Apr 3, 2017 near Morristown, VT

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Check-Ins

Nov 24, 2020
Anna Ulrich
LOVED IT!!! So gorgeous in the snow with the ice. Spikes a must, next time bring poles. Mostly protected from wind and elements, and a total Narnia 1.1mi
Sep 27, 2018
Matt Teschke
Eagle Cut to Laura Cowles to Sunset Ridge loop 5.5mi
Oct 13, 2017
Kate Voorhes