Mount Mansfield is the highest mountain in Vermont; being the highest in the state it is also the highpoint of Chittenden County. The mountain gets its name because when viewed from the east its summit ridge resembles the profile of a human face, and the names of its prominent features reflect this: Adams Apple (4,060'), Chin (4,393', highest point), Nose (4,062') and Forehead (3,940'). For about 2.3 miles (from the Adams Apple to the Forehead) the Long Trail is almost constantly above treeline, the only such long stretch of alpine zone in Vermont. Please stay on the trail to avoid harming the delicate vegetation! As the Long Trail Guide writes:
Mount Mansfield is the most frequently visited mountain in Vermont with nearly 40,000 visitors walking its upper reaches every year. This use has severely affected its fragile ecosystem. Mount Mansfield is one of two places in Vermont where Artic Tundra can be found; the other place being Camels Hump. There are about 200 acres of Artic Tundra on Mount Mansfield; Camels Hump only holds a few acres.
The weather on Mount Mansfield can be very different from the lower surrounding areas. In winter, blowing snow and clouds are very common conditions on the summit. Above the tree line, complete whiteouts leading to disorientation may occur; be very cautious when ascending in these conditions. Visibility may be only 20 feet, so it is very easy to get lost while ascending or descending from the summit. Use less exposed routes in these conditions, for example use Laura Cowles trail instead of Sunset Ridge (Sunset Ridge is exposed for over 50% of the route).
To get to the LT and Haselton Trail trailheads follow VT 100 north to Stowe, then take VT 108. The Haselton Trail starts in the Gondola Base Lodge parking lot, the LT trailhead is 0.6 further north.
The Sunset Ridge Trail starts at Underhill State Park. From Underhill Center take the Pleasant Valley Road about a mile north, then take the Mountain Road to its end at the state park (parking fee). From the park follow the old CCC road for a mile to a sharp right turn, where the trail bears left off the road.
There are many trails up the mountain, I will describe a few of the more popular routes. If hiking from the west side of the mountain the most popular place to start is from Underhill State Park. The two most popular routes from here are Sunset Ridge Trail & Laura Cowles Trail. If you are hiking from the east side of the mountain the more popular route is the Long Trail. The easiest way up the mountain though is from the Toll Road.
The State of Vermont closes trails on Mt. Mansfield from Mid-April to Memorial Day to protect the fragile vegetation, and also to protect the trails themselves from erosion. The Green Mountain Club discourages hiking on any trails at high elevation during that season.
There are no fees (unless you use the toll road or gondola) and no permit is required.
Given the short distances most people climb Mount mansfield in a day. There is lodging at the Green Mountain Club's Taft Lodge. A reader has added: "The "lodge rate" is $6 per person. Bring your own stove and T.P. as fires are forbidden and the outhouse was bare. Also, water is available from an untested source - recommend bringing a filter."