The Mountain Times

°F Sun, April 20, 2014

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Peak foliage experience, antiquity on Killington’s summit

A truly spectacular vantage from which to view Vermont is the 4,241-foot rocky pinnacle of Killington.

To get there, you can ride the eight-passenger K-1 Gondola or hike or bike up a ski trail.

At the K-1 departure point, you will find yourself wowed at the sight of the new Peak Lodge, which in itself will offer a fantastic experience - and views - once it is completed (scheduled for late December).

But for this fall, your best viewing options are to take a short, 10-minute hike to the mountain's pinnacle or to enjoy the boardwalk below the gondola and Peak Lodge.

Both are highly recommended, but if you have a nice day, the hike is a must because Killington's summit is the most easily accessible highest vantage in Vermont and offers the rewards of history as well as spectacular views. (Mt. Mansfield's summit, in Stowe, is higher but not as easily accessible and takes longer to reach.) Killington's rocky summit offers a top-of-the-world experience, photo ops, and a rare geologic look at some of the oldest rock in the world!

Geologists tell us that the Green Mountains are 500-million years old, older than all the mountains in the world except for the Adirondacks at 3-billion years. Killington Peak's is 900-million years because its newer rock was worn away by the glaciers thus exposing its ancient bedrock core (not exposed on Mt. Mansfield where the core lies buried below) which makes for a truly historic experience.

More History
Killington's summit was originally called Mt. Pisgah - also the name of the mountain from which Moses saw the promised land. Vermont was said to have been christened from the peak by a Reverend Samuel Peters who set about baptizing Vermont's 300 inhabitants when he traveled through the state in 1763. He claimed to have named the state "Verd Mont" in token that her mountains and hills shall ever be green and shall never die."

The tall fire tower on Killington's summit provides a link to more recent history. "Lookouts" once watched for fires from this tower when it was first built on neighboring Pico during the lumbering era of the early 1900s - when forest fires were rampant and a threat to the lumber industry and state.

Later, the tower was moved to Killington Peak and a fire warden (a.k.a "lookout") lived in the hut at its base in non-winter months until the program was discontinued in 1984 (when airplanes were then used to spot fires). Today, antennas and satellite dishes on the tower provide modern communication links.

Views and More Views
From the 4,241-foot summit, you can view mountain range after mountain range. Shrewsbury Peak can be seen easily to the southwest along the spine of the Green Mountain Range.
Looking due west you can see Rutland City lying below in the Valley of Vermont, and the Taconic Mountain Range extends south just beyond Rutland.

Looking northwesterly, there's Chittenden Reservoir and the mighty Adirondacks plus Lake Champlain may be visible on a very clear day. Nearby to the north you'll see Pico and the spine of the Green Mountain as they stretch north as far as the eye can see.

If you have time after summiting - or are not able to hike to the pinnacle - take the Peak Walkway, a boardwalk located below the gondola. It offers views to the east and north. The walkway continues down to the top of the North Ridge Triple Chairlift (formerly known as the Glades chair), which is an easy five-minute jaunt.

The boardwalk was built so that early season snow aficionados could enjoy the higher elevations trails, which get natural snow earlier as well as retain machine-made snow better at high elevations, and then hike up the boardwalk to download on the K-1. That is how Killington can offer skiing/riding when there isn't snow yet on the lower mountain and be one of the first in the nation to open!

The K-1 Gondola will be operating daily through Oct. 14 from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m., but construction on the Peak Lodge may disrupt operations at times. Check out Killington's daily conditions report before heading out.

Photo by Karen D. Lorentz
Foliage offers a great time to hike, bike or ride the K-1 Gondola to Killington Peak and to explore the pinnacle, boardwalk and new Peak Lodge under construction to be open this winter!