Mt. Pisgah via South Trail

Mountain:  Mt. Pisgah (2751')
Trail:  South Trail
Region:  VT - Northeast  
Willoughby State Forest
Location:  Westmore, VT
Rating:  Moderate/Difficult  
Features:  Summit, views, cliffs, pond
Distance:  3.4 miles  
Elevation Gain:  1450 feet (cumulative)  
Hiking Time:  Typical: 2:30  
Outing Duration:  Typical: 3:30  
Season:  Spring
Hike Date:  05/16/2009 (Saturday)  
Weather:  Partly cloudy
Author:  Bob J.

Route Summary   

This is an up-and-back hike to the summit of Mount Pisgah via South Trail. There are views from the summit ledges of the White Mountains in New Hampshire and the Green Mountains in Vermont.

  • Ascend South Trail for 0.5 mile then start looking to the left for three outlooks over the next 0.4 mile.
  • After 0.9 mile on South Trail, you will reach Pulpit Rock on the left, which offers views from about 500 feet directly above Lake Willoughby
  • Keep hiking up South Trail for another 0.8 mile which will bring you through an open ledgy area and then just beyond that to the summit of Mount Pisgah. From the ledges are views south encompassing both the White Mountains and the Green Mountains.
  • After enjoying the summit and views, retrace your steps to return to your vehicle. Make sure you head off the mountain in a southerly direction on South Trail; as North Trail leaves the summit from the other side.

Place         Split
South Trailhead (1315') 0.0 0.0
Pulpit Rock (1740') 0.9 0.9
Mt. Pisgah summit (2751') 0.8 1.7
Pulpit Rock (1740') 0.8 2.5
South Trailhead (1315') 0.9 3.4



Trail map of hike route to Mount Pisgah in Vermont (map by Webmaster)

Trail Guide   

I hiked Mount Pisgah in Vermont along route 5A and overlooking Lake Willoughby, with my girlfriend. We started off on South Trail and walked over two wooden bridges which were sturdy, but looked in need of repair. Then as we went up we hit some muddy areas with water flowing across the trail. I assume that this was runoff from the winter snow and was easily able to walk around or over it with no issues.

We continued up taking a few breaks along the way, because of the steep inclines heading toward the top, and taking off layers due to the sun coming out after a cloudy start. When we reached Pulpit Rock we looked out at Lake Willoughby and could see for miles – be careful because the lookout ledge drops off several hundred feet.

We reached the top in 2.5 hours and looked out from the summit and could see some weather heading our way. We made it down in 1.25 hours and just in time, as it started to rain heavily.

The trail was 1.7 miles to the top and was a great restart to my hiking adventures. I will add that you should not hike this trail if you have never been on a hike or if you are out of shape.

VT - Northeast

  Driving Directions   

The South Trailhead is located in Westmore, Vermont on Route 5A.

It is 5.7 miles north of the junction of Routes 5 and 5A. There are parking areas on both sides of the road. Heading north on Rt. 5A, the trailhead is on the right. The parking area on the right is obvious; the bigger parking area on the left is less obvious because trees screen it. There is a small trailhead sign that may not be visible from the road due to cars parked in front of it.

Other Notes   

There was some mention in guidebooks that this trail may sometimes be closed during the summer due to peregrine falcon nesting.

About Willoughby State Forest   

Willoughby State Forest consists of 7,300 acres in the Northeast Kingdom of Vermont, spanning the towns of Westmore and Sutton. Within the park is the Willoughby Cliffs Natural Area which includes Mount Pisgah and Mount Hor.

One of the forest's most striking features is the cliffs of Pisgah and Hor that rise sharply from either side of the 1,653-acre Lake Willoughby. Driving up Route 5A gives you a dramatic prospect of this narrow U-shaped valley. Hiking up to either mountain offers a bird's eye view of the lake and sweeping mountain vistas of Vermont, New Hampshire, and Canada.

Lake Willoughby is about 300 feet deep and is a popular fishing post for rainbow trout, lake trout, brown trout, landlocked salmon and yellow perch.

Other natural features of this area include the remote Dolloff, Marl and Duck ponds. About 12 miles of hiking trails lead to the summits of Mount Hor, Mount Pisgah, Moose Mountain, and Wheeler Mountain. There are many more hiking trails just outside of the forest.

District V - NE Kingdom
1229 Portland St. Suite 201
St. Johnsbury, VT 05819-2099

About Willoughby Cliffs Natural Area   

The 950-acre Willoughby Cliffs Natural Area is part of the Willoughby State Forest. The area includes the cliffs of Mount Pisgah and Mount Hor, as well as the forested buffer zone.

At their high point, the cliffs rise vertically approximately 1,300 feet above Lake Willoughby. The cliffs are known as a spring nesting site for peregrine falcons and also harbor many examples of endangered species of arctic and cliff-alpine plants.

More Mt. Pisgah Trail Reports   


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