Deer Leap Rock is a short hike located between the Killington and Pico Mountain ski resorts. The climb is steep in places, but its short length and excellent views make this an excellent winter destination for those making their first foray into winter hiking. It's a popular trail, so the snow is often packed down, but bringing along snowshoes is advisable.
The hike begins adjacent to an Irish pub and paralleling Route 4 through Sherburne Pass for a short distance. It climbs slowly at first, over rocky terrain. Scenic cliffs line the left side of the trail. After 0.4 miles, snowshoers will reach an intersection. Continue left following blue blazes and signage for Deer Leap Rock. About 100 yards beyond this point, a second intersection follows. Continue left to reach Deer Leap Rock.
From here the trail becomes smoother but begins climbing more steeply. The trail wends its way between thick evergreens as it tops out along the ridge leading to the lookout point. At the 0.75-mile mark, yet another intersection offers a spur to the right. This leads to Deer Leap Mountain, a much longer and strenuous loop best left for milder temperatures.
The trail begins to follow a rolling ridge that rises and falls gradually as snowshoers approach the overlook. There are a few steep descents, but they are relatively short. Once at overlook, the thick forest gives way to bare rock with spectacular views of Pico Mountain, the Coolidge Range, and Sherburne Pass.
The summit is exposed and windblown, and it is sometimes slippery with ice. A secondary rock outcropping sits just below, but the steep slopes approaching it make it inadvisable to try to reach. Perhaps the only downfall of this hike is its proximity to the road, which is visible and audible from the outcropping. To reach the trailhead, follow the trail back the way you came.
Winter backcountry adventures can be dangerous outdoor activities that pose significant risks as conditions affecting safety (i.e. weather, snowpack stability, avalanche hazard) are constantly changing. Prior to engaging in these activities each individual should get the proper training to make safe decisions and be equipped to use avalanche safety resources and tools. Please visit our Backcountry Skiing and Avalanche Safety post to learn more.