The Green Mountains are the oldest and highest mountains in the state, as well as the state's namesake. They are a sub-range of the Appalachian Mountains. The range runs north-south and is best described as a ridge running from the Berkshires in Massachusetts up to Canada. The highest mountain in the range is Mount Mansfield at 4,393 feet, in northern Vermont. A very large part of the mountains are in the jurisdiction of the Green Mountain National Forest, which is split into northern and southern regions along Route 4 near Rutland. The Green Mountains are very popular for hiking, skiing, fishing, hunting, and other recreational activities.
LandscapeThough humble and almost totally enshrouded in thick (need we say green?) forest, the Green Mountains are filled with variation and are at times quite rugged. And despite the heavy forest, there are plenty of open areas, wetlands, and escarpments where wildlife tend to gather. As with all national forest land, there are parts set aside for recreation, logging, and mining, as well as areas that are totally closed off to protect wildlife. Trails and roads in the forest are well maintained and range from very scenic to mosquito-ridden.
Flora and faunaThe Green Mountains have a huge range of wildlife. They are mostly covered by northern deciduous forests (maples, oaks, birches, etc.) but also have patches of coniferous forest, wetlands, tundra, grassy ski slopes, and powerline greenways. Each of these areas has its own collection of flora and fauna. Thousands of bird species flock to these well-protected mountains and the bird-watching can really be excellent, especially in the clearings where birds come to feed and mate. Mammals in the national forest are more reclusive but abound in large numbers, and if you're lucky you might see a moose, black bear, coyote, fox, or Indiana Bat.
ClimateThe weather in the Green Mountains varies heavily between season and even between elevation. In summertime the weather is usually up around 75 °F but can cool considerably at night. Spring and Fall are brisk and sometimes downright frigid. Winters are very cold, with sub-zero temperatures at times.
- Middlebury, 1007 Route 7 South, Middlebury, +1 802 388-4362. Ranger station for the northern section.
- Rochester, 99 Ranger Rd, Rochester, +1 802 767-4261. Ranger station for the northern section. Approx 1 mi north of Rochester on VT100.
- Manchester, 2538 Depot St, Manchester, +1 802 362-2307. Ranger station for the southern section of the forest.
- Rutland, 231 North Main St, Rutland, +1 802 747-6700. This is the main office, which also oversees the Finger Lakes National Forest.
Fees and permits
The Long Trail runs along the spine of the Green Mountains the full length of the state. It is a peak-bagging trail, so consider yourself warned, it will occasionally be a strenuous hike. There are lots of good trails throughout the mountains that can be found using a good hiking guide or by getting information from the ranger stations, or by visiting the Green Mountain Club. The Appalachian Trail coincides with the Long Trail through the southern half of the forest and splits off in Gifford State Park, at the southern end of the northern half of the forest. There are lots of drivable park roads (though they are usually dirt or gravel roads) throughout the park. They are identified by small brown signs with the road number on them.
LodgingThere are plenty of bed & breakfasts & hotels on and off the main roads that traverse the mountains and in the surrounding towns for those who are not inclined to camp.
address: #1 Route 4 East
CampingThe national forest operates several developed campsites in the mountains. Most campsites charge $10 per night for staying in one of these sites (no RV hookups). The majority of campgrounds are open Memorial Day through Labor Day, but some are open year-round. Many campgrounds do not have running water, trash receptacles or drive-up camping (i.e. hike-in only). To be fully prepared, please check with the Green Mountain National Forest for more details at http://www.fs.fed.us. The campsites and their locations are:
Chittenden Brook CampgroundSouth side of Rt 73 about 5 miles west of Rochester.
Gifford Woods State ParkNear the intersection of Rt 100 and Rt 4.
Moosalamoo CampgroundOff National Forest Road (NFR) 24 west of NFR 32 near the Sugar Hill Reservoir.
Silver Lake CampgroundEast of Rt 53 near Lake Dunmore.
Greendale CampgroundOn NFR 18 out of Weston.
Hapgood Pond CampgroundOn NFR 21 out of North Landgrove.
Grout Pond CampgroundOn FH6 near Stratton.
Red Mill Brook CampgroundOn NFR 72 north of Rt 9.