Barren strawberry (photo by Webmaster)

Field chickweed (photo by Webmaster)

Plant (photo by Webmaster)

Starflower (photo by Webmaster)

Snake Mountain and Red Rock Pond

Destinations:  Snake Mtn. (1287'), Red Rock Pond (1200')
Region:  VT - Central West  
Snake Mountain Wildlife Management Area, Willmarth Woods
Location:  Addison, VT
Rating:  Easy/Moderate  
Features:  Summit, views, cliffs, pond, loop hike
Distance:  4.1 miles  
Elevation Gain:  980 feet (cumulative)  
Hiking Time:  Actual: 2:00   Typical: 2:05  
Outing Duration:  Actual: 5:00   Typical: 4:00  
Season:  Spring
Hike Date:  05/11/2008 (Sunday)  
Last Updated:  09/22/2013  
Weather:  Sunny, 80 degrees
Author:  Webmaster

Route Summary   

This is a loop hike which climbs up to Snake Mountain where there are great views of the Champlain Valley. The descent is via a different route that goes by the lovely Red Rock Pond.

  • From the parking lot on Mountain Road, turn right and walk up the gravel road for 0.1 mile.
  • When you see Willmarth Road on the right, turn left onto a wide trail with an orange gate.
  • Trail through the Willmarth Woods section of Snake Mountain (photo by Webmaster)
  • Follow the trail for 0.7 mile where you will encounter a T-junction. The trail running right and left in front of you is an old carriage road that leads up to the summit.
  • Turn left to follow the trail uphill (there is no sign but the left-hand route is more prominent). (The right-hand turn would take you to Mountain Road Extension after about 0.5 mile.)
  • After 0.1 mile will be a fork: the left fork leads up to Snake Mountain by way of Red Rock Pond and the right fork is the carriage road that leads to the summit. The left fork almost immediately crosses a stream. For now, bear right (we will descend via the alternate route). Again there is no sign here but the right fork is more prominent.
  • After 0.3 mile will be a switchback. Ignore the path leading straight up a steep pitch and instead bear right. Then follow the trail as it curves to the left, ignoring the path that goes to the right. So you end up in the same spot that you would have if you took the straight path - but to prevent erosion, please avoid that route.
  • Keep following the obvious carriage road. At one point there will be a "summit" sign directing you sort of straight (then the trail curves to the right) while another trail turns to the right.
  • Eventually you will reach the unsigned spur path to the summit ledges. Like much of the route, this is determined by looking to see which option is more prominent. In this case the left-hand fork to the summit is more worn down to dirt from so many feet while the path continuing straight (a snowmobile trail) is more grassy and leaf-covered.
  • So bear left here and reach the open ledges of Snake Mountain after 0.1 mile.

  • From the summit, retrace your steps for 0.1 mile back to the main trail and turn right.
  • Just a few steps beyond this point, turn right onto an unsigned path.
  • Follow this trail for 0.1 mile which will bring you to Red Rock Pond.
  • You can walk along the ledges for about 0.1 mile until reaching an area that's closed from March 15th through August 1st every year due to peregrine falcon nesting.
  • After checking out the ledges and pond, contour around the side of the pond on the end opposite from which you arrived.
  • Continue down this obvious trail for 0.8 mile until rejoining the old carriage road.
  • Turn right and follow the carriage road for 0.1 mile.
  • At the junction between the carriage road and the road leading back to the parking lot, turn right (going straight the path is less distinct so this turn should be easy to find in spite of the lack of signage).
  • Follow the wide trail for 0.7 mile until reaching Mountain Road.
  • Turn right and walk along Mountain Road for 0.1 mile to return to the parking lot on the left.

Red Rock Pond (photo by Webmaster)

Place         Split
Parking lot on Mountain Road (320') 0.0 0.0 0:00 0:00
Jct. old carriage road/trail to Mountain Road (650') 0.8 0.8 0:25 0:25
Jct. old carriage road/trail to pond (700') 0.1 0.9 0:03 0:28
Snake Mtn. summit (1287') 1.3 2.2 0:34 1:02
Red Rock Pond (1200') 0.2 2.4 0:06 1:08
Jct. old carriage road/trail to pond (700') 0.8 3.2 0:28 1:36
Jct. old carriage road/trail to Mountain Road (650') 0.1 3.3 0:03 1:39
Parking lot on Mountain Road (320') 0.8 4.1 0:21 2:00

Holey snag on trail from pond (photo by Webmaster)


Miterwort "snowflake" flowers (photo by Webmaster)

Common blue violet (photo by Webmaster)

Trout lily a.k.a. dogtooth violet (photo by Webmaster)


Trail map of hike route to Snake Mountain (map by Webmaster)

Trail Guide   

This is a popular and beautiful hike up to open ledges just a tad southwest of the actual summit of Snake Mountain. The open area provides 180-degree views of the Champlain Valley and spring wildflowers were abundant along the pleasant trails. Another interesting feature visited was Red Rock Pond, physically close to the summit but with a much different atmosphere.

At the start of the hike was a wide, muddy trail that didn't look very promising. However, it wasn't the suck-your-boot off type of mud so it was no problem to just walk through it. There were also ample bypass paths on higher ground.

The muddy sections were soon over and I could more thoroughly enjoy the walk through hardwood forests. The few conifers on this route were interesting in their scarcity. Much of the route followed an old carriage trail and the trails were wide all the way up to the summit. Most of the climbing was relatively easy with a few moderate pitches.

Low sweet blueberry growing next to Red Rock Pond (photo by Webmaster)

The trail I followed for the descent, by way of serene Red Rock Pond, (unfortunately none of the trails on this mountain seem to have names) was narrow and a bit steeper than the ascent. This route contoured the edge of the mountain hinting at openness beyond the screen of trees. There were many beautiful rock outcroppings and small ledges along the way. I only encountered two other parties on this trail - far less than the number on the old carriage road. There was lots of birdsong and I heard woodpeckers drumming to claim their territories throughout the day.

Black flies were out but they really weren't very bothersome. The rewards of this hike far outweighed the meager drawbacks. I hiked this on a weekend and there were many others on the trail enjoying the sunny, 80-degree day.

The remainder of this trail report is split into sections highlighting the three main features of the mountain:

Wildflowers    |    Snake Mountain Summit    |    Red Rock Pond Area


I took my time on this hike and enjoyed the many spring wildflowers en route. The first plant to catch my eye was bloodroot (Sanguinaria canadensis). This is an early bloomer so I missed seeing the flower but it's a remarkable plant nonetheless. While the white flower is budding, the large, single leaf wraps around the stem and bud to protect it. After the bloom fades, the leaf grows even larger to about eight inches in diameter. The leaf is distinctive as it looks like a seven-lobed pinwheel.

Large-flowered trillium (photo by Webmaster) Next I was treated to a showy display of white large-flowered trillium (Trillium grandiflorum). As its name implies, this plant is a study of threes: three leaves, three petals, and three sepals - although just one flower per plant. Trilliums were abundant along the route and at times formed a dense carpet.

The next wildflower I encountered was subtler: the trout lily (Erythronium americanum), also known as dogtooth violet. It consists of a single nodding yellow flower above two mottled basal leaves whose spots somewhat resemble a trout's body. The down-turned flower has three petals and three petal-like sepals. If you get to see a flower, you are looking at a plant that's probably at least ten years old - that's how long it takes to get from seed to bloom. For many years the plant will produce just a single leaf while storing enough nutrients in its white underground bulb to eventually produce two leaves and the flower.

Common blue violet (Viola papilionacea) was plentiful along the trails. I saw several downy yellow violets (Viola pubescens) which grow on taller stems and are of course yellow instead of purple. Round-leaved yellow violet (Viola rotundifolia) was present. This form grows closer to the ground than the downy species. The forest floor was also peppered with a variety of ferns.

Shortly before the first brook crossing, there was a huge oak tree just off the trail to the right. Its trunk diameter was about three feet and its size was really striking.

Wild geranium (photo by Webmaster) Wild geranium (Geranium maculatum) was sporting pink flowers and has leaves somewhat like those of bloodroot. The geranium leaves are more plentiful, smaller, and are more like a five-lobed pinwheel instead of being seven-lobed.

Another subtle wildflower was the large-flowered bellwort (Uvularia grandiflora). This plant has lemon-yellow bell-shaped flowers that almost look like buds rather than fully formed blooms. The plant stems seem to pierce the leaves and the flowers droop which gives them a wilted appearance.

I encountered miterwort (Mitella diphylla) which is a low-growing plant with miniscule white blossoms scattered along its stem. If you have excellent vision or a hand lens and look at the fringed flowers closely, you will see that the outer lacey portions resemble a snowflake. Toothwort (Dentaria diphylla) is relatively low-growing also with white flowers but it is much more noticeable because there's a cluster of four-petaled flowers at the top of the plant which rise above two leaves, each of which are divided into three parts. Wood anemone (Anemone quinquefolia), which I saw on the descent, looks similar to toothwort but has 4-9 petal-like sepals and its leaves are divided into five parts.

Speaking of multi-parted leaves, wild sarsaparilla (Aralia nudicaulis), although not yet in bloom, was abundant along the trails. It has three leaves, each one divided into three parts. In its young stage, as it was on this hike, the leaves are a rusty red and shiny making some people erroneously believe that it's poison ivy. When it's mature, it will produce three balls of small white flowers beneath the umbrella of its leaves.

Other flowers encountered include starflower (white with seven petals), bluets (tiny four-petaled lavender flowers with a yellow center), and barren strawberry (a low-growing plant with five-petaled yellow flowers).

In the summit or pond areas I spotted field chickweed (a low-growing plant with five forked white petals), pale corydalis (with a strange-looking pink and yellow flower), rough cinquefoil (a low-growing plant with a pale yellow five-petaled bloom), and red baneberry (flowers growing in a cluster with 4-10 narrow petals and numerous stamens; its red berries are very poisonous).

Snake Mountain Summit   

The summit panorama was fantastic. There were 180-degree views looking primarily out to the west to the Champlain Valley, Lake Champlain, and a long string of mountains in New York state.

The nearby farmland formed a fascinating patchwork of lush green, tilled brown, and dandelion-yellow. Interspersed were groves of trees, farmhouses, rural roads, and the muddy-looking Dead Creek. Beyond that was Lake Champlain and then the Adirondack Mountains of New York - some still with snow on them.

The summit itself consists of a large concrete slab left over from an abandoned house project dating back to the Second World War. In 1874, on the summit proper, the Grand View House hotel opened for business and wasn't permanently closed until 1925. During the hotel's tenure, the owner referred to the peak as "Grand View Mountain" because he was afraid the name of "snake" would discourage tourists. The mountain was dubbed "snake" because of its long serpentine ridge snaking over several summits.

Views of the Champlain Valley from Snake Mountain's summit (photo by Webmaster)

Going much farther back in time, let's say 14,000 years ago, the peak would have been an island in the very muddy and very large Lake Vermont. Lake Vermont eventually morphed into the inland Champlain Sea, complete with whales, and finally to the present day Lake Champlain. The lake in its current state is 107 miles long, 14 miles wide, and 405 feet deep.

The lake is so large that it's sure to harbor some secrets. Some say strange creatures, on par with that of the Loch ness monster, inhabit the waters. There have been many sightings with the 30-foot long body being described as snake-like with a long neck and tail.

Red Rock Pond Area   

Red Rock Pond is just a short ways from the summit and offers solitude and peace while the summit tends to be more boisterous and festive. A narrow ledge separates the pond from the cliffs. The views are excellent from this vantage although not as unobstructed as on the summit; but the small trees actually seemed to enhance the overall picture rather than detract from it. I didn't know whether to sit facing the outlooks or sit facing the pond; I ended up doing a little of both.

The pond was roughly 120 feet by 40 feet and appeared to be shallow. There was lush green grass sprouting above the water on one end. It was ringed by hardwoods on three sides and the rocky ridge on the fourth side. The ledge provided a great prospect from which to drink in the serenity.

Red Rock Pond and view to the Adirondacks (photo by Webmaster)

The rock itself was very interesting with reddish hues which I imagine is how the pond got its name. It was liberally spotted with pale green lichen and also included purplish, orangey, dark gray, and light gray colors. And the long, narrow ledge did seem to "snake" along the mountain. There were several interesting plants and shrubs around the pond including low sweet blueberry (Vaccinium angustifolium).
Bloodroot leaves (photo by Webmaster)

Large-flowered bellwort (photo by Webmaster)

Toothwort (photo by Webmaster)

Pale corydalis (photo by Webmaster)

Downy yellow violet (photo by Webmaster)

Bluets (photo by Webmaster)

Wood anemone (photo by Webmaster)

Large-flowered trillium with ferns (photo by Webmaster)

Trail to Red Rock Pond (photo by Webmaster)

Red Rock Pond (photo by Webmaster)


VT - Central West

  Driving Directions   

Ledges along Red Rock Pond (photo by Webmaster) The trailhead for this hike to Snake Mountain is located on Mountain Road in Addison, Vermont near the junction of Routes 17 and 22A.

From the north:
  • From Burlington, follow Rt. 7 South to reach Rt. 22A South.
  • Travel south on Rt. 22A and note when you reach Addison at the junction of Routes 22A and 17.
  • From this point continue on Rt. 22A for 3.0 miles.
  • Turn left onto Willmarth Road and follow it for 0.6 mile to its end.
  • Turn left onto Mountain Road and proceed 0.1 mile to the parking area on the left.

From the southeast:
  • From Middlebury, follow Rt. 23 northwest to reach Rt. 17 at a T-stop.
  • Turn left onto Rt. 17 and travel for 1.9 miles.
  • Turn left onto Mountain Road (if you reach Rt. 22A, you've gone about 0.8 mile too far).
  • Follow Mountain Road for 2.5 miles and then turn right into the obvious parking lot (if you see Willmarth Road on the right, you have gone 0.1 mile too far).

If the parking lot is full, you may park on the road along the parking lot area, being careful not to block access. Parking is prohibited near people's houses and yards.

Much of the access to Snake Mountain is on private property so please use extra care to be considerate of local residents. Take care with parking, keep your voices down, and be careful not to inadvertently drop any trash.

Other Notes   

Dogs are allowed but all pets must be leashed.

Old carriage trail leading to summit (photo by Webmaster)

About Willmarth Woods   

Large-flowered trillium blooming (photo by Webmaster) Willmarth Woods together with Snake Mountain Wildlife Management Area helps to preserve Snake Mountain, although many portions of the mountain are still on private land.

Willmarth Woods, owned by The Nature Conservancy, consists of 81 acres in Addison, Vermont. The trail from Mountain Road (opposite Willmarth Road) proceeds through the preserve for about 0.7 mile before meeting up with the old carriage road and the eastern boundary of the preserve.

The mature hardwood forest is dominated by beech, and sugar maple. The rich soils nurture spring plants such as bloodroot, large-flowered trillium, trout lily (dogtooth violet), several varieties of violets, miterwort, toothwort, and large-flowered bellwort.

About Snake Mountain Wildlife Management Area   

Snake Mountain Wildlife Management Area, located in Addison and Weybridge, Vermont, preserves 1,215 acres of Snake Mountain, covering its upper slopes and summit. This area is owned by the State of Vermont and managed by the Vermont Fish and Wildlife Department.

There is a network of trails providing access to the Snake Mountain summit, Red Rock Pond, and Cranberry Bog. Parking areas and trail access are located on Mountain Road, Mountain Road Extension, and Snake Mountain Road. Refer to the trail map above for more information.

The summit of Snake Mountain offers 180-degree views of Champlain Valley and the Adirondack Mountains of New York. The 9,500 year-old Cranberry Bog is a one-acre bog mat complete with the unique plants, such as pitcher plants, that are part-and-parcel with this type of habitat.

Recreation activities include hiking, mountain biking, snowshoeing, and snowmobiling. There is abundant opportunity for nature lovers to enjoy the many unusual plant species, birdwatching, and hawk migrations.

Views of the Champlain Valley from Snake Mountain's summit (photo by Webmaster)


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