Snake Mountain stands alone surrounded by the fertile Champlain Valley. At 1,287’ it’s short by most measures, but because it rises sharply from the surrounding fields it provides a nice steady hike, impressive cliffs and million dollar views. It’s a mild hike and easy to reach from both Burlington and upstate New York.
Snake Mountain is a pretty drive south of Burlington through the farms of Addison County; if you’re not often in the area, the nearby towns Vergennes and Middlebury have great food options and are worth a stop before or after.
What Makes It Great
Though it seems improbable now, the summit was the site of a hotel in the late 1800s. The hotel burned down but the foundation remains and, balanced on the lip of a cliff, functions as the trail’s defacto summit. About a mile and a quarter up the trail—right after it gets just a little steep—keep an eye out for a dogleg to the left that leads to the foundation. The trail, originally the carriage road to the hotel, is mostly wide and gentle, about three and a half miles up and back. It’s especially beautiful in the flat section near the base.
There’s no other view in Vermont like the view from Snake’s summit. Snake is an isolated mountain which means you get huge payoff for not a lot of effort. Instead of a sea of peaks and ridges, the view from Snake is of flat bucolic farmland backed to the north and west by Lake Champlain and the Adirondacks beyond. Migrating birds and falcons swoop along the cliff face below. On a nice afternoon it’s easy to spend an hour or more on the foundation. Bring binoculars and a camera.
Who is Going to Love It
Low-key hikers, groups of mixed ability and the poetically inclined. The trail is slightly more strenuous than a walk in the woods, so if you really want to earn your picnic, head east into the Greens instead. But if the picnic is the end goal, Snake is a good choice.
Directions, Parking, & Regulations
There is a parking area across Mountain Road a few steps to the left of the trailhead. The trailhead is marked by a gate (cross it; it’s to keep vehicles out). There is no fee, and dogs are fine but should be leashed.