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Elephants Head via Long Trail North

Northern Green Mountains, Vermont

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Elephants Head via Long Trail North

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  • The Long Trail kiosk.- Elephants Head via Long Trail North
  • A ladder leads down to the crossing of the Little River.- Elephants Head via Long Trail North
  • The Long Trail is marked by white blazes on the trees and rocks.- Elephants Head via Long Trail North
  • The trail passes through some beautiful mixed vegetation.- Elephants Head via Long Trail North
  • In wet weather, its sometimes hard to tell the difference between the trail and water runoff.- Elephants Head via Long Trail North
  • One of the steep rock features to navigate up.- Elephants Head via Long Trail North
  • A man-made log-stacked stairway and retaining wall.- Elephants Head via Long Trail North
  • A brief view of Mount Mansfiled and ski runs of Stowe Mountain Resort from an opening in the dense vegetation.- Elephants Head via Long Trail North
  • Wooden staircases erected help hikers over steep, rocky obstacles.- Elephants Head via Long Trail North
  • Moss clinging to the rocks.- Elephants Head via Long Trail North
  • The intersection of the Long Trail and the vista offshoot.- Elephants Head via Long Trail North
  • The vista offshoot is marked with blue blazes.- Elephants Head via Long Trail North
  • Stairway down to the viewpoint, which is on a small ledge.- Elephants Head via Long Trail North
  • View of the northeastern slopes of Mount Mansfield from the viewpoint.- Elephants Head via Long Trail North
  • The view looking south down at the winding VT-108 Road toward Stowe Mountain Resort.- Elephants Head via Long Trail North
  • Large cliffs of Mount Mansfield.- Elephants Head via Long Trail North
  • - Elephants Head via Long Trail North
Overview + Weather
Pros: 
Great views. Hike through a lush forest.
Cons: 
Steep trail. Slippery when wet.
Region:
Northern Green Mountains, VT
Congestion: 
Moderate
Pets allowed: 
Yes
Net Elevation Gain: 
1,470.00 ft (448.06 m)
Parking Pass: 
Not Required
Preferable Season(s):
Summer, Fall
Total Distance: 
3.50 mi (5.63 km)
Trail type: 
There-and-back
Trailhead Elevation: 
1,620.00 ft (493.78 m)
Typically multi-day: 
No
Current Local Weather:
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Hike Description

Hike Description

Contributor

Perched high above Vermont State Route 108 in the rocky section of Smugglers Notch is a prominent rock formation known as Elephants Head. Atop this cliff is a small viewpoint that overlooks the highway and the Stowe Valley beyond.

To access this beautiful vista, park at the Smugglers Notch Picnic Area. Locate the Long Trail North Trailhead, which is toward the restroom facilities and to the left. Be sure to sign the registry and note any posted trail alerts.

From the trailhead, the trail dips down a steep embankment and crosses the west branch of the Little River. Depending on the time of year, this could be a small ford. Once across, the trail starts to climb. The trail is fairly steep, gaining over 1,300 feet in the next 1.5 miles. Follow the white blazes marked on the trees and rocks. Keep a keen eye as sometimes the trail seems to disappear with the water runoff. The dense vegetation does not allow for views out to the neighboring Mount Mansfield until near the top of the climb.

After 1.8 miles there will be an intersection with a spur trail signed “Vista” and marked with blue blazes. This spur trail leads downhill for approximately 0.2 mile and ends at a small vantage point. Note that the viewing area is small and that there are no safety rails. Caution and sure footing is required near the edge. The view south to toward Stowe Mountain Resort alone is worth the trek up. Directly across from the resort are the rocky formations of Mount Mansfield. If you’re feeling brave, carefully peer below to the winding highway making its way through Smugglers Notch.

To return, simply retrace your path back down to the Smugglers Notch Picnic Area.

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