Stowe Pinnacle offers some of the best views of the Stowe valley and can be enjoyed year round with the exception of Vermont's early spring mud season. The hike itself climbs steeply through a hardwood forest before looping around the mountain just before the summit. The hike is 3.1 miles round trip with a total elevation gain of 1,542 feet. From the peak, excellent views of Mount Mansfield, Waterbury Reservoir, Camels Hump, and the Worcester Range abound. It's possible to extend the hike up to Hogback Mountain and the rest of the Worcester Range via the Skylight Trail, or shorten it by parking at the Pinnacle Meadows Trailhead.
The trailhead on Upper Hollow Road is small and can be easily missed. Lookout for Pinnacle Road, and the trailhead is a few hundred yards south of its intersection with Upper Hollow Road. Once parked, follow the obvious path east into the woods. The trail register is located about 100 yards from the parking area.
The forest is moderately dense, consisting of mostly hardwoods such as birch and maple. In fact, careful observers in the winter will likely notice sap lines in the distance to the south. There is also a log tepee just off the trail, likely constructed by local kids.
About a half mile into the hike the trail steepens, ascending at a steady pace until reaching the junction with the Pinnacle Meadows Trail at 0.98 miles. This trail accesses an upper parking lot that cuts out much of the climb and shortens the total length of the hike by about 1 mile round trip. Follow the Stowe Pinnacle Trail to the right as it weaves between boulders and begins its steepest ascent up a gully.
Once at the top of the gully, the trail continues southeast as it loops around the summit. Here, hikers begin to traverse along the east side of the pinnacle, and sometimes even descend before the final climb to the summit. Winter visitors will notice a definite chill in the afternoon as the summit casts a heavy shadow over this side of the peak.
The next trail junction is with the spur to join the Skyline Trail toward Hogback Mountain. Continue to the right, heading back northwest to reach the summit of Stowe Pinnacle. At this point, the hardwoods will be replaced by thick spruce, narrowing the trail and the field of vision until you reach the summit.
Once at the top, enjoy spectacular views from the rocky outcroppings on the summit. Stowe Mountain Resort and Mount Mansfield can be seen to the northwest, Waterbury Reservoir and Camels Hump as well as distant views of Sugarbush and Mad River Glen can be seen in the southwest. The Worcester Range dominates the skyline in the south and east.
To return, simply backtrack 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.