Vermont is home to many trails, from short day hikes to multi-day thru-hikes. The most famous of them is the Long Trail, a 273-mile beast that follows the rocky crest of the Green Mountains from Vermont’s southern border with Massachusetts all the way to its norther border with Canada. Along its many miles are over 70 different overnight sites. These range from fully enclosed rustic lodges to tent sites to lean-to shelters. The Theron Dean Shelter is one of these lean-to shelters.
Located near Mount Ellen and the Mad River Glen ski area, the shelter is accessed via the Long Trail south starting from the Appalachian Gap, which is the top of the pass of Vermont Route 17. From the parking area atop the pass, cross the road to find an unmarked trail on the downhill side of the western slope. After climbing a few hundred feet of the trail, you will come to the trail register and information kiosk. Please sign in and become familiar with the posted information. From here the trail climbs for 1.6 miles past one of the Mad River Glen ski lifts and through a steep section up rock faces with the assistance of metal rungs. There will be an intersection just shy of the shelter destination, which offers an alternative way up to the shelter through a small cave. For those feeling adventurous and able to squeeze through the opening with their packs, try the small detour for a fun under/over route to the shelter. Otherwise continue on the Long Trail south to a sign directing hikers to the shelter.
The shelter is named for Theron S. Dean (1877-1946), an early and influential Green Mountain Club member. It is a three-sided, stacked log building with a flat sleeping platform that offers room for six to eight individuals. There are wooden pegs along the walls and a line under the overhang for drying gear and storage. Also inside is a metal box on the wall that contains a shelter log filled with comments from previous hikers and campers.
From the shelter, a pathway leads south to a rocky ledge with a grand view north toward Camel’s Hump and other Green Mountains. This path can also be followed back down to the cave's alternative route. Also along that path is a way to a water source. Unfortunately the water source is seasonal, and the flow is nothing but a trickle in the late summer, so it is a good idea to pack in any needed water with you. Near the shelter sits a wash-pit with a screen for dishwashing. Also provided is a composting outhouse, which can be found back down the main trail. The Green Mountain Club maintains the trail and all the structures along its length. Please help their efforts by practicing Leave No Trace principles.
There is no fee to stay at this shelter, and all overnight sites along the Long Trail are on a first-come, first-served basis.