Stratton Pond - Bourn Pond Loop

Stratton Pond - Bourn Pond Loop

A 22.5 mile loop in Vermont's Green Mountains.

Bourn Pond

Gazing out at the early morning mist drifting across the surface of Bourn pond, it's easy to imagine that you're alone for miles in every direction.  A lone loon breaks the silence with its eerie call, and you scan the shoreline for movement, hoping for a glimpse of a moose foraging along the water.

On the doorstep of Manchester, Vermont lies the Green Mountains and the Lye Brook Wilderness, and one the better weekend backpacking trips the northeast has to offer.

Begin your trip on old Rootville Road, a steep 1.8 mile gravel road that climbs to an overlook at Prospect Rock.  After taking in sights of Manchester nestled in the valley below, follow the white blazes of the Appalachian and Long Trails up the road as it enters the dense forest of the Green Mountains.  Continue 5.5 miles to Stratton pond and spend the night at the Stratton Pond shelter (privy at the shelter, water available from the spring near Stratton Pond).

Stratton Pond Shelter

Wake up the next day and pack a daypack for a 6.2 round trip hike up Stratton Mountain.  Climb the historic fire tower at the summit and look out at an endless sea of green, the view that served as inspiration for the construction of both the Long and Appalachian Trails.  Return to the Stratton Pond shelter the way you came, and head out with the rest of your gear back down to the pond.  Turn left onto the Lye Brook Trail (blue blazes) and follow it west along the coast of Stratton Pond and into the Lye Brook wilderness.

Stratton Fire Tower

The trail can be tricky to follow here, with downed trees, small creeks, and dense vegetation obscuring your path, but push on 2.4 miles to the junction with the Branch Pond Trail, turning right along the western coast of Bourn Pond.  Follow the trail another 0.5 miles to the northern campsite, where a secluded patch of forest awaits you for your second night (privy at the campsite, water available from the spring near the junction with the Lye Brook Trail).  The shore of Bourn Pond is just a few steps away, and offers excellent opportunities for viewing wildlife and a peaceful setting for your last evening in the wilderness.

Bourn Pond

In the morning, continue 3.5 miles north on the Branch Pond Trail to its junction with the Long Trail.  Turn left and follow the trail 2.7 miles back the way you came on your first day, past Prospect rock and down Old Rootville Road.

In the morning, continue 3.5 miles north on the Branch Pond Trail to its junction with the Long Trail.  Turn left and follow the trail 2.7 miles back the way you came on your first day, past Prospect rock and down Old Rootville Road.

Hike It

Trailhead:  Follow VT 30/11 to East Manchester Road, then bear immediately left onto Rootville Road (gravel).  Park 0.5 miles up at a small lot near the water tower.

Maps: Waterproof Manchester Area Hiking Trail Map ($5) available at www.greenmountainclub.org

Permits/Fees: $5 caretaker fee at the Stratton Pond Shelter during the busy season.

When to Go: Late June after the wet season will have less crowds, but expect muddy trails in certain sections.  Fall offers excellent scenery as the leaves change colors, but don't expect to be alone, especially at Stratton Pond Shelter.

Iconic Hikes Vol. 1: Half Dome

Iconic Hikes Vol. 1: Half Dome

Gear Review: Icebreaker Sphere Tee

Gear Review: Icebreaker Sphere Tee