Hiking: Mount Pisgah via the South Trail | Northeast Kingdom, Vermont | 10/18/2011

Mount Pisgah Hike - Northeast Kingdom, VTMount Pisgah strikes a distinctive outline in Vermont's Northeast Kingdom.  While not a big mountain at only 2751 feet in height, the several hundred foot cliffs on its western flank that drop down almost vertically to Lake Willoughby below make for some very spectacular scenery. Not only that, but Mount Hor to the west of Lake Willoughby is almost a mirror image of Pisgah, nestling the glacial lake between two massive sets of cliffs.  The outline of these two mountains can be seen from almost any high point in the Northeast Kingdom and both make for good hikes.  I've always been found of the trail on Mount Pisgah though and on our recent visit to the Kingdom, we decided to hike this mountain again, years after we used to always be on the mountain when we attended Lyndon State College a bit further south in Lyndonville.

Mount Pisgah Hike - Northeast Kingdom, VT
Two trails climb Mount Pisgah, both from Vermont 5A, one from the south and one from the north of the mountain.  The south trail climbs Mount Pisgah in 1.7 miles and reaches the most spectacular outlook over Lake Willoughby in 2.0 miles.  The climb is generally steady with a few steeper sections.  The trail is well maintained though with plenty of rock steps to make the climb a bit easier.

The trail leaves from a small parking area opposite the the CCC Road entrance on VT 5A.  The trail drops slightly, crosses a small pond on some board, climbs onto a glacial esker and then climbs gently to the base of Mount Pisgah.  Just before the trail begins climbing directly up the mountain, there is a small sign-in booth that includes a map of the area inside of it.

Mount Pisgah Hike - Northeast Kingdom, VT

Mount Pisgah Hike - Northeast Kingdom, VT

After the sign-in booth, the trail turns and begins climbing the face of Mount Pisgah, quite steeply in places.  The trail then begins to level off as it climbs onto the western flank of the mountain.  From this point on, the trail skirts along the top of the cliff face until you reach Pulpit Rock, the first real view off the top of the cliffs (picture from Pulpit Rock is on top).

Mount Pisgah Hike - Northeast Kingdom, VT

Mount Pisgah Hike - Northeast Kingdom, VT


From Pulpit Rock, the trail turns right and veers away from the edge of the cliffs, instead, wrapping around Mount Pisgah and climbing steadily up its eastern face.  The trail does get fairly steep in a few places and near the top, there are a few open rock areas that you traverse.  Just below the summit is an open area that offers a great view towards the east with Burke Mountain in the front and the White Mountains of New Hampshire in the distance.

Mount Pisgah Hike - Northeast Kingdom, VT

Mount Pisgah Hike - Northeast Kingdom, VT

From this eastward viewpoint, the summit is shortly reached.  The are no real summit markers, but you will quickly notice when you have reached the height of land and the end of the South Trail.  It's 1.7 miles from the parking area.  If you continue another 0.3 miles beyond the summit, dropping slightly and following the North Trail, you will come to the first of three overlooks on the North Trail.  The 1st view is definitely worth it, as the viewpoint literally hangs over Lake Willoughby and gives you a 270 degree view of the lake, Mount Hor and the surrounding Northeast Kingdom.

Mount Pisgah Hike - Northeast Kingdom, VT

This spot makes for a great picnic spot or a spot to sit and take in the world. The actual ledge is fairly small, but just up from the view are some open areas where you can sit and relax. We enjoyed our snack and the view and then headed back up to the summit and then back down the South Trail to our car.

Mount Pisgah Hike - Northeast Kingdom, VT

Mount Pisgah Hike - Northeast Kingdom, VT

Hike Details
Map: Green Mountain Club Hiking Map for the Northeast Kingdom
Mileage:
Parking Lot to Base of Mount Pisgah - 0.4 miles
Pulpit Rock - 0.9 miles
Summit of Mount Pisgah - 1.7 miles
West Overlook - 2.0 miles
4 miles round trip
Elevation: 1450 foot ascent (and 1450 foot descent)


Hiking information in the Northeast Kingdom
The Green Mountain Club publishes a hiking map for the Northeast Kingdom's trails.  In addition they also publish the Day Hiker's Guide to Vermont, which includes the trails surrounding Lake Willoughby.  Mount Pisgah's trails are also included in the Hiker's Guide to the Mountains of Vermont.

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