Route: Mount Ascutney (VT)

Vermont, US
24.2 mi
Vertical Gain
8,400 ft

Mt Ascutney (3144') is located in Mt Ascutney State Park.  There is an auto road to near the summit.

Four trails totaling approximately 12 miles in length start at the base of Mt. Ascutney and ascend to its summit. Three of these trails are maintained under a cooperative agreement with the Ascutney Trails Association (ATA). The three trails that start outside of the campground area all have trailhead parking lots that are plowed during the winter. 

Futures Trail (4.6 miles one way): The Futures Trail starts alongside campsite #22 in the Mt. Ascutney State Park campground (day use fee required). Total distance to the summit is 4.6 miles (at 4.1 miles the Futures Trail connects to the Windsor Trail). Highlights of this trail include Bare Rock Vista (1.0 mile) and the Steam Donkey (3.5 miles), a steam-powered machine used for cable logging in the early 1900s. Several sections of this trail can also be accessed by parking areas located along the Mt. Ascutney Mountain Road. Parking is available during the park operating season.

Weathersfield Trail (2.9 miles one way): The trailhead parking (maintained all year) is located off Route 131 in the town of Weathersfield. From the Mt. Ascutney State Park office, go 2.3 miles south on Route 44A and Route 5 to intersection with Route 131. Turn west on Route 131 and go 3.5 miles to intersection with Cascade Falls Road, turn north on Cascade Falls Road, follow signs to trail head. Highlights of this trail include Little Cascade Falls (0.4 miles), Gus’ Lookout (2.3 miles) and West Peak Vista (2.5 miles).

Cascade Falls: There is no direct trail access to the falls. The falls are primarily surface flow; water flow is minimal unless there is significant rain. If you decide to go to the falls, use extreme caution; wet rock surfaces can be slippery and dangerous. The area becomes extremely slippery and icy in the winter.

Brownsville Trail (3.2 miles one way): The trailhead parking (maintained all year) is located off Route 44 in Windsor. From the Mt. Ascutney State Park office, go 1.8 miles north on Route 44A to junction with Route 44. Turn west on Route 44 and travel 1.0 miles to trailhead on left. Trail highlights include the Norcross Quarry (1.1 miles) with excellent views and a look at an early 1900s granite quarry, Quarry Top Lookout (1.2 miles), Knee Lookout (2.0 miles), North Peak Lookout (2.4 miles), and Brownsville Rock (3.0 miles).

Windsor Trail (2.7 miles one way): The trailhead parking (maintained all year) is located off Route 44A in the town of Windsor, 1.6 miles north of the park entrance on the left. Trail highlights include Gerry’s Falls (0.8 miles), Castle Rock (2.4 miles), and Brownsville Rock (2.5 miles).

Triple Loop: (Shown on map):  ~24.2 miles, 8,400 vertical gain. A classic Vermont test piece using every official base to summit route on a prominent mountain in the CT River Valley, connected as a loop. Overview, then details below.

1. Ascend or descend each of the main routes on the mountain, start to finish, NO SHORTCUTS:
-Weathersfield Trail
-Futures Trail
-Auto Road (Slab Trail from parking to top)
-Windsor Trail
-Brownsville Trail
-Bicentennial Trail

2. End at the same trailhead where you started.

You can do it any order you want, but after having hiked this mountain well over a hundred times, I think my route is the most logical. Note that there are plenty of opportunities for shortcuts but I think the easiest thing to do to keep this fair is just take each route in full from bottom to top, or vice versa. It's simple and fun.

It’s basically:

Bicentennial Trail start - follow bike trails and roads to Weathersfield Trail, up Weathersfield Trail, down Futures Trail, up Auto Road (and some trails to get from parking to summit), down Windsor Trail, short run on Route 44, up Brownsville Trail, down Bicentennial Trail.

Turn by turns:

1. Bicentennial Trailhead (West Windsor Town Forest) - From the trailhead, run back down the road 0.1 miles, then head left at gate onto Gravel Pit Road. It turns to trail, just stay straight the whole time. Hit Kimball Farm Road at 0.8 miles.
2. Left (south) on Kimball Farm Road. It will turn into a forest road/bike trail and eventually just an old overgrown forest road. Go through the gate, stay left when it splits (arrows right are for snowmobiles). It feels like you pop into someones driveway, but I checked and this is public right of way and you’re always on the road. (This is the only weird 200 feet of the trip.) This road becomes Ascutney Notch Road. Just take this straight out to Route 131
3. Left on Route 131. 2.2m
4. Left on Cascade Falls Road. 3.2m
5. Left on High Meadow Road 3.3m
6. Weathersfield Trailhead. 3.7m
7. Take Weathersfield Trailhead to the summit. (Must follow trail to Crystal Cascade to stay on trail, don’t take bypass shortcut.) West Peak, just before the Hanglider Launch, is a great view.
8. Reach summit. 6.5 m NOTE: Summit is to the right. The observation tower is not the summit!
9. To get to Future’s Trail beginning, you need to follow the Windsor Trail, or the Slot Trail to Castle Rock Trail to Windsor Trail to get to Futures Trail beginning. (Do not take Slot Trail and Future’s Link Trail. Take the WHOLE Future’s Trail.)
10. Reach junction of Futures Trail and Windsor Trail. 7.0m
11. Reach Campground at Mt. Ascutney State Park, follow road down (straight then left). Reach bottom of Access Road. 11.2m
12. Take a left onto Auto Road and start climbing
13. Reach Parking Lot near summit. 14.8m
14. Follow sign to trail and take right at split, then head left onto Slab trail and follow signs to summit. 15.5m
15. Take Windsor Trail down to trailhead at Route 44a. 18.2m
16. Take a left onto Route 44a which will turn into Route 44. Follow to Brownsville Trailhead on left at 19.3m. (Careful there’s not much shoulder on the road.)
17. Take Brownsville Trail to summit. 22.2m
18. To get to Bicentennial Trail, take the Weathersfield Trail down 0.1 miles. There’s not much signage but you’ll see a sign 1976 at a trail junction on the right. Take the right! 22.3m
19. Reach the Bicentennial Trailhead! 24.2m

All 5 Trails up & down:

29 mi, Vertical Gain 12628 ft

All five base to summit trails, up and down, no shortcuts. The trails include:

  • Bicentennial Trail
  • Weathersfield Trail
  • Futures Trail
  • Windsor Trail
  • Brownsville Trail

It is truly a grand tour of this amazing mountain. As a Monadnock, one of a few in New England, it isn't part of a range of mountains and instead is believed to be an ancient volcano. It's rocky, rugged, maintains a steady pitch, and has a number of nice viewpoints along the way. With 435 feet of gain per mile, there's no respite. Bonus, the gpx track looks pretty cool.

Note: Unlike the Ascutney Triple Loop, which uses all six routes up the mountain, the auto road is not included in this FKT route as it's meant to be only the official trails. Also, the observation tower is NOT the summit. The summit is a 100 yards beyond the tower, right next to the radio and extraterrestrial communication towers.


There are actually five trails up the mountain. Bicentennial Trail. Plus there’s the auto road.