Trip Report: Vermont NEHH Peaks – Mount Mendon, Killington, Mount Pico

I’ve been to Killington once before, when I first really got into hiking a few years back, now 79 of the New England Hundred Highest later, I decided to return for another visit there and it’s neighbors, the ski mountain Pico, and the trail-less Mendon.




We started out on the newly rerouted Bucklin Trail, which was damaged heavily from hurricane Irene last year. The new reroute was easy to follow and very well designed. We made good time up the trail to it’s intersection with the Long Trail/Appalachian Trail, and unpacked our camping gear at Cooper Lodge, a 16 person shelter. I had stopped here last time to change layers last time I hiked Killington in the rain, and had been excited about camping here once again. The shelter has open air window holes, 4 walls, 4 platforms, a table, and a roof. The windows face to the west, so we had a decent sunset view later that evening. It also has a very interesting privy.



After we had lunch and pumped some water, we set off to find the herd path I had read about. This was the first time I set out to a trail-less peak on my own, but I got some really good information from friends, and even stitched together a few different GPS tracks to make what I thought was the best route for my plan. We headed out on the AT/LT heading south and soon took a right onto the heardpath I had mapped out on my GPS. The herdpath was very easy to follow once we found it, it is very unassuming and one could easily walk by it without knowing it was even there. We followed it for about a mile and had no trouble at all. I often thought to myself, “this non-trail is in better shape than some real trails”. It then joined the old logging road, and the bushwhacking commenced at a small cairn on the side of the road. We lost the herd path from there a few times but eventually found ourselves on the false summit of Mendon, and then pushed on to find the canister atop the true peak. We then returned back to Cooper Lodge and had some dinner, and watched the sun go down. Just after sunset we heard a loud rustling in the woods very close and I was concerned it might be a bear, but after turning on my headlamp, realized it was just a large porcupine. I slept well that night, we had the shelter all to ourselves. In the morning we packed up, went up to Killington, and started out on our way to Pico via some ski trails and the AT/LT. It would have been easier if we had stayed on the AT/LT, but I did luck out when hiking up on a ski trail, I found a GoPro that had been sitting there in it’s waterproof case since 2009 based on the video on it. We dropped packs at Pico camp and went out and back to the the summit. I found the official summit amongst some construction equipment at the top. Luckily we met some nice hikers that agreed to shuttle us back to our car back at the Buckin trail, so we hiked out with them to Sherburne Pass, saving us the long hike back to Cooper lodge and down the Bucklin Trail again.


Distance: 15.72 mi
Time: 26:14:32
Elevation Gain: 4,423 ft

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