Equinox Mountain via Summit Trail
Equinox Mountain is located in Bennington County in Southern Vermont. The tallest mountain in the Taconic range, it boasts an elevation of 3,848', a 10 degree temperature change from base to summit, and an average of 98" of snow fall annually. Depending on which story you like best, it's name was either derived from Captain Partridge's scientific ascent to determine elevation during the autumnal equinox, or a corruption of the native name "Ekwanok," which loosely translates into "the top." Either way, the climb to the top is relentless, beautiful, and well worth it. In the winter, deer, moose, snowshoe hare, bear, and bobcat tracks can be seen in the snow. The higher elevations boast Peregrin Falcons and Eagles.
You can access the Blue Summit Trail from East Union street in Manchester. There is ample parking and the trailhead can be found on the opposite side of the Burr and Burton athletic fields. The well marked and well maintained trail begins as a wide track through a predominantly hardwood stand. Follow signs to stay on the Summit Trail, as the first half mile several other loop trails cross on both sides. The trail climbs almost from the start and increases in steepness steadily. At just over 1.5 miles in, you will find a wooden bench and a side trail to a spring. The forest changes here to balsam firs and spruce trees, and the ascent is steep and rocky from here to the summit. The ecosystem is particularly fragile after 2,800' and hikers should remain on marked paths and practice Leave No Trace ethics. Just prior to reaching the summit, a side trail to Look Out Rock breaks off to your right. The forest opens up at the summit and offers 360 degree views around the St Bruno Visitors Center (closed in winter).
This is a no-joke tough climb. There are very few areas of flat terrain, the trail is steep, rocky, and relentless. That being said, the section of trail from the trailhead to the bench is heavily trafficked by hikers of all ages. The beauty and variety of the forest ecosystems on this mountain make it a great place for children to learn about how the plants and animals change with terrain and elevation. Care should be taken for all hikers, regardless of age, to prepare for significant temperature and weather changes.
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