Camel’s Hump is one of the most beloved hikes in Vermont. It’s summit, the outline of which looks similar to a camel’s hump or a couching lion, as my grandmother used to say, is an iconic Vermont view. We hike it a couple of times every year and are in awe of the scenery each time.
At 4,083′ it is the third highest peak in Vermont after Mount Mansfield and Killington Peak. The natural timberline leaves the summit open, affording panoramic views of Lake Champlain, Mount Washington, Mount Marcy, and stunning Vermont countryside on clear days.
On a blissfully warm February day, Alex and I set out to revel in the glories of spring by hiking Camel’s Hump. A cool breeze was blowing, the sun was shining, and our spirits were soaring. The trail was well packed by other hikers who were equally infatuated with the gloriously warm weather. The week before, we had been trapped inside suffocating from cabin fever as a blizzard raged outside. We set out on Burrows Trail, eager to reach the summit before the predicted thunderstorm set in.
The warm weather caused the previous week’s heavy snowfall to melt. Small streams created by runoff rushed along the forest floor, creating a beautiful musical sound. It also caused the snow packed on the trail to erode, creating rather unenjoyable hiking conditions. We continually fell through the packed snow into large puddles, which made progress slow and rough.
About halfway up, we encountered a breathtaking waterfall rushing down the side of a cliff. The refreshing mist cooled us as we sat beneath, enjoying our granola and carrots.
As the day progressed, the clouds darkened, encouraging us to increase our speed to beat the looming thunderstorm. By the time we reached the summit, the weather had cooled drastically and rain was spitting from the sky. A cold wind pelted the rain onto us. Dark clouds masked the typically stunning views.
After a quick break we descended the mountain, eager for pizza and Ben & Jerry’s!
Best Time to Hike: While it is a wonderful hike year round, resplendent autumn foliage and crisp weather makes fall our favorite time to hike Camel’s Hump. Afterwards, stop by some of Stowe’s finest tourist attractions for hot cider and fresh doughnuts at Cold Hollow Cider Mill, or enjoy a scenic drive down Route 100. Camel’s Hump is an excellent winter hike as its popularity means that the trails are typically well packed, making for easier hiking. Always properly prepare for winter hikes with warm clothing, proper equipment, and plenty of food and drinks. In the summertime, be mindful of the heat and remain well hydrated. In June, especially, the black flies are out so pack bug spray! During Vermont’s infamous mud season, hikers should be mindful of trail erosion and avoid this hike. For information on which trails remain passable during the spring visit the Vermont State Parks’ Blog.
Trails: There are a variety of trails on Camel’s Hump which offer varying levels of difficulty. The Vermont State Parks provides a helpful trail guide. Monroe Trail is located on the Duxbury side of the mountain and offers moderately difficult hike through a predominantly birch and maple forest and is our favorite way up the mountain. The Dean Trail forks off of the Monroe Trail and is a more challenging hike which leads past an old beaver pond. We typically take the Burrows Trail which is located on the Huntington side of the mountain. This is a meandering trail which leads through hardwood and pine forests. These trails end at Hut Clearing and join with the Long Trail to reach the summit. From Hut Clearing, hikers can detour on the Alpine Trail to see the wreckage of a B-24 Liberator bomber. Camel’s Hump View Trail, located on the Duxbury side, is just .8 miles long and is described as universally accessible. For hikers who are looking for an enjoyable stroll along a wide path with lovely views of Camel’s Hump, this is the right option!
As always, hike responsibly and follow the leave no trace principles:
- Plan ahead and prepare.
- Travel and camp on durable surfaces.
- Dispose of waste properly.
- Leave what you find.
- Minimize campfire impacts (be careful with fire).
- Respect wildlife.
- Be considerate of other visitors.
By being mindful of our impact on the environment, we are able to help preserve the incredible natural beauty of New England.