Visit Stowe, VT and Hike Mt. Mansfield with Kids

Descending the Chin at Mt. Mansfield Stowe, VT

In August 2021, our family of 3 went to Stowe, VT. Lyra was 2.5 years old and I was 5 months pregnant. Ivan and I had been to Stowe multiple times and hiked the highest peak there, but this was Lyra’s first visit.

Originally we had planned to visit Stowe and hike Mansfield earlier that year in May, but I was crippled with morning sickness that spring, so we delayed the visit by a few months.

Ivan and my wedding anniversary is in May and we like to take trips to celebrate. On two previous anniversaries, we stayed in Stowe and climbed the mountain. It was so much fun, we wanted to go again with Lyra. Now we’re beginning to create a bit of a tradition.

Where We Stayed In Stowe

Previously we stayed at the Sun and Ski Inn and Suites, which is so conveniently located along the main strip in Stowe. It’s walking distance to trails, breweries, and dining. We would have selected that spot again, if we were traveling alone. This time, though, we met my parents there and they rented a large old house on VRBO.

The home is located on River Road, a dirt road that runs along Little River. It had very little traffic and was a quiet destination to relax. Unfortunately, we happened to be visiting when Vermont was experiencing a bit of a heat wave. The old house wasn’t well insulated and was ill-fit for 90-degree days. At 5 months pregnant, I was not managing the stifling weather very well.

What We Did

Aside from doing a little bit of shopping at the stores downtown, we spent most of our time in Stowe relaxing with my parents, then hiking Mt. Mansfield.

Mt. Mansfield in Stowe, VT

Mt. Mansfield is the highest peak in Vermont. It is 4,393 feet high and there are multiple ways to get to that peak. We have always selected the same route:

  • Ascend via Hell Brook Trail
    • Note that Hell Brook (as its name might suggest) is a very technical trail that is rocky, slippery, and not for beginners.
  • Access the “chin”
    • Mt. Mansfield has a profile on the horizon of a person’s face and the “chin” is the highest point. This is a great spot for photos and a little picnic before heading back down.
  • Descend via Long Trail
    • Hell Brook Trail is a shorter distance than Long Trail, but is not safe for descent. It’s much more advisable to take the Long Trail back down to the road and walk back to your car at the Hell Brook Trail lot.

This is just one way to visit the peak of Mt. Mansfield. You can also consider taking the Auto Toll Road or a Gondola Sky Ride. Read about those options at The Stowe, VT Blog.

Lyra astounded us with her independence and managed more of the trail on her own than we’d ever expected. We had the harness to carry her on our backs, but once we got past the gnarliest parts of the ascent, she was insistent that she be allowed to traverse the terrain on her own.

She definitely needed help on the vertical sections. In those steep areas, we created a human chain, passing her up from Ivan, to me, to my dad, until we could set her on flat ground while we scrambled up. There were moments where I was so nervous for her, but she did wonderfully.

We were smart enough to bring an extra diaper and doggy bags, just in case there were any accidents. Sure enough, as we climbed, Lyra pooped. With relative ease, we changed her on the trail. We bundled up her soiled diaper and tied it tightly in the doggy waste bag before tucking it in our backpack.

As we neared the top, the terrain leveled out and Lyra was running, jumping, and climbing. She balanced across the wood planks that bridged gaps between dry patches of trail. She scrambled up rocky ledges with Ivan below her, ready to offer a helping hand.

Where We Ate around Stowe

Since I was pregnant, I couldn’t enjoy a cold beer after that hike, but The Alchemist brewery just down the road has excellent IPAs for craft beer lovers. We’ve always enjoyed their beers when we visit Stowe.

Other restaurants that are great to check out include The Bench and Idletyme Brewing Company. While we were there this time, we enjoyed Laughing Moon Chocolates (so delicious) as well as some take out. Mostly though, we cooked at the rental.

It was a great trip and we look forward to continuing the tradition with a family of four!

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