When I arrived at the end of Tillotson Road, I almost drove away to find another place to hike. My mood that morning had anyway been a bit ragged and then the approach to Belvedere Mountain had failed to impress. Seen from Mines Road, Belvedere lacked stature and grandeur and was scarred by, well, mines. The turnaround at the end of Tillotson appeared little used and boasted no indications that it was a trailhead at all—most conspicuously, no obvious trail.
But memories of good hikes that started unpromisingly, and fearing I might waste a beautiful morning driving ill-tempered around backwoods Vermont looking for a place that met my ideals, I set off down a partially overgrown cut in the woods, and in a few minutes came to a distinct, blue-blazed trail heading west and upward. Thereafter, both ragged mood and mines disappeared.
DATE: Monday, August 26th.
START & FINISH: End of Tillotson Road, Lowell, Vermont (GPS 44.790902, -72.519444).
ROUTE: Frank Post Trail to Long Trail at Tillotson Camp (a hikers’ shelter). Long Trail south to short side-trail to Belvedere Mountain summit. Return via Forester’s Trail.
DISTANCE: About 7½ miles.
TIME: 5¼ hours (7:50am to 1:05pm). I spent an hour on the summit.
TERRAIN: 2,000-foot net elevation gain between trailhead and summit, but on good and not especially steep trails; no scrambling that I recall.
MAP: Northern Vermont Hiking Trails.
WEATHER: Sunny and mild (50s early, rising to maybe 70).
WILDLIFE: I startled some ground birds, probably grouse, into flight soon after setting out. At Tillotson Camp, a snake slithered across the path in front of me—perhaps a ribbon snake.
BREAKFAST: Nut bar & trail mix at the trailhead.
LUNCH: Snacks on the summit—apple, super-dark chocolate, more trail mix.
UPS: (1) Beaver pond near Tillotson camp; (2) summit views—of course! (3) laying out on a very comfortable summit rock and admiring the few, high clouds.
DOWNS: After I started walking, none.
KIT: Nothing to note.
COMPANY: A downbeat Long Trail backpacker at Tillotson Camp who told me how slow he hiked; an upbeat Long Trail backpacker near the summit who told me, not immodestly, how fast he was moving; a young woman on the summit who just told me to have a nice day.
THE HIKE IN PICTURES: