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).