Hiking The Weathersfield Trail on Mt. Ascutney

 

The Park

2500 acre Ascutney State Park is a 20 minute drive from the Old town Farm Inn, between Windsor and Weathersfield. Activities for the outdoor enthusiast include hang gliding, camping and hiking. The park is on Mt. Ascutney, the summit of which is 3,150 elevation. Mt. Ascutney is considered one of the premier hang gliding sites in the eastern United States.

Easy access to the summit via car is compliments of the Mountain Road road which climbs a wandering path of switchbacks through the forest to a parking lot at an elevation of 2,800 feet in a saddle between the south peak and the summit. A network of hiking trails takes you the additional 344' rise to the summit as well as to several spectacular lookout points..

Excellent viewing is offered from points along the summit road and trail. The original fire tower with the cabin removed has been relocated for excellent views in all directions. Another excellent view is found at Brownsville Rock, .25 mile by trail northwest of the summit. This is one of the hang gliding launch sites.

Mt. Ascutney is primary launch point for the new England Hang Gliders Association, and considered one of the premier hang gliding sites in the easastern United States.. Most flights take off at the West Peak launch site located on the West Windsor Town Forest or at the South Peak launch site located within the park. Both areas are reached by well marked trails originating from the upper parking lot on the Mountain Road.

Cross-country skiing is permitted inthe park permitted in winter. Just  go around around the entrance gate. Be advised that all facilities are closed in winter including restrooms.

 

Mount Ascutney from across North Springfield Lake

The Trail

Our Favorite hiking trail is a wonderful path to spectacular scenery. 

This is a challenging hike, 2.9 miles one way, with a net elevation gain of 2600 feet and a gross gain of almost 3400 feet due to dips in the trail. 

The beginning of the trail treats you to Little Cascade Falls,  a nice place to look around and take a breather if the first thing this trail tells you is you aren't in the shape you thought you were in. Shortly after Little Cascade the trail levels out for a while and brings you to the top of a  more impressive falls, Crystal Cascade Falls with a drop measuring over 80 feet. The Crystal Cascade is one of only two know vertical ring dykes in the world. A ring dyke is a geological formation created when a volcanic shaft is used a second time, metamophosizing the rock of the shaft. half of the shaft fell away ages ago leaving a vertical "half pipe" over which the water falls. You will arrive at the top of the falls to go to the bottom of the cataract, cross the stream first it is still very steep but less so than the near side. Continuing to the summit, the first one hundred yards of the trail is pretty representative of the pitch for the duration of the hike. If it is too steep, be advised that now s a good time to turn back. If, however you are made of sterner stuff, two wonderful lookouts await you  at 2.3 miles and again at 2.5 miles.  The lookout at the west summit is the most popular hang glider launch point in the north eastern United States. The summit with its observation platform is reached at 2.9 miles. The good news is that the return trip is almost all down hill.

The Rules (Vermont State Park Rules)

Overnight camping and camp fires are not allowed
Please hike on marked trails. Hiking off trails causes erosion and destroys vegetation.
Keep trails free of litter. Carry out what you carry in.
Keep pets under control at all times.
Trails are for foot travel only. All terrain vehicles are not permitted on state lands.
Please leave all wildflowers and other plants in their natural environment for others to enjoy.
Respect the rights of private property owners.

The Summit

Our adventurers taking a well earned break on the West Peak hang glider launch pad. that's Okemo Mountain resort Ski area in the distance.

Kuniko at Castle Rock at the Mt. Ascutney summit area.