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black Sunset Ridge Out-and-Back

  4.8 ( 6 ) Favorite

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5.1 mile 8.2 kilometer out and back


Ascent: 2,496' 761 m
Descent: -2,491' -759 m
High: 4,342' 1,323 m
Low: 1,845' 562 m


Avg Grade: 18% (10°)
Max Grade: 51% (27°)


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Trail shared by Lou Poulas

This is the quintessential Vermont hike, offering spectacular 360° views as your reward for climbing a steep pitch.

Lou Poulas

Features River/Creek · Views


One of the must-do hikes in the Northeast, Mt Mansfield via Sunset Ridge Trail is an experience one will soon not forget. In total, it is about 6.5 miles via an out and back, taking the hiker through forest lands, over rivers, and past a few false summits on the way to the true summit.

The second portion of the route is wonderful, with minor rock scrambling and a lot of hiking on exposed rock faces. The summit itself is the highest peak in Vermont and offers 360° panoramic views of the surrounding areas including the town of Stowe.

Need to Know

Parking fills up extremely quickly, especially on weekends. Over 40,000 take this route annually.


Start your journey on Eagle Cut Trail, just a few steps north of the Underhill State Park parking lot. Eagle Cut Trail is an easy trail that first bisects some vehicle switchbacks on Mountain Road and then follows Mountain Road itself. Not much to see here as it is a means to an end.

A little under a mile later, end your trek on Eagle Cut Trail and CCC Road (also called Mountain Road) and get on Sunset Ridge Trail (there is signage for this trail and the Laura Cowles Trail).

The fun begins here as you traverse through forest, alongside many streams with multiple bridge crossings, and the incline starts in earnest.

After the low woods, the trail emerges into mountain evergreens and eventually exposed rock face up to the summit. Eventually, the trail breaks through the treeline as well.

When Sunset Ridge Trail concludes near the top, be sure to make a quick left onto the Long Trail (Mansfield to VT108) to truly reach the summit and bask in the wonderful view.

Descend the same route, or for a longer descent and crest hiking, follow the Long Trail to CCC Road and back to the Underhill Parking area.


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Nov 3, 2018
Elisabeth Frazier
tough conditions, rain, sleet, hail, snow, and 70 mph winds
Sep 14, 2018
Chris Rogers
Camden class trip.
Sep 2, 2018
Clay Foster
Great day for a hike to the chin 6.5mi — 4h 58m
Aug 24, 2018
Lindsay Eichenberger
Jul 18, 2018
Mike Foley
Jun 11, 2017
Sid D

Trail Ratings

  4.8 from 6 votes


  4.8 from 6 votes
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130 Views Last Month
4,089 Since Apr 4, 2017
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I just completed this route for the first time. What a beautiful hike! Equally challenging as it is rewarding. One thing that surprised me was how much of this hike is above treeline. As soon as the trees thinned I figured I was close to the top. But you still have a long ways to go - which is fine because the views are amazing the whole way up! Aug 8, 2017

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