While we adjust to life as a family of 5, a few local bloggers kindly agreed to keep MiniBury readers entertained with tales and adventures from their own lives. Today Julie Barry shares the seventh installment of her series”Little Explorers,” reports on her hiking adventures with her husband and her two and four-year old. Take it away Julie!
Trail: Molly Stark’s Balcony
Distance: 2.6 miles roundtrip
Level of Difficulty: difficult
Baby Jogger Access: no
Bikes Permitted: no
Of Interest to the Kids: rock scrambling that thrilled my 4 year old and is steep enough to interest older kids
How to get there: Driving east from Bristol continue on 17 to the Appalachian Gap. Hike north on the Long Trail
More Info: Here
Going slowly to check out hopping toads and birds’ nests and to find routes through the tough rocky spots it took us about 1 hour 45 minutes from the trailhead to the balcony. The sign-in at the trailhead lists distances to spots along the trail (Baby Stark Mountain, Molly Stark, Balcony) but while trail is certainly blazed the only actual sign we saw was right at Molly Stark’s balcony.
The hike was effectively split into thirds: up to Baby Stark Mountain, down, down, down to a little creek, up to Molly Stark. From the trailhead the Long Trail climbed pretty steeply for the first 25 minutes (but at 10 minutes in there’s a side trail to a sweet little view of Mad River Glen/Major Stark Mountain) to the top of Baby Stark. There’s no view from Baby Stark and from here the trail descends steeply for 30 minutes, including some places with 4-5 foot rock faces (or more) and roots to cling to. My 4 year-old loved this though there were several spots where we made sure one of us was ahead of him to spot. Honestly, if I’d known how much rock-clambering there was along this section I would have made sure my ankle was more than “mostly” healed before trying it. (This hike gives ample opportunities to reveal your inner klutz.)
After the descent from Baby Stark the trail climbs again to the ridge of Molly Stark, this time with fewer rock faces. The “balcony” is at the end of the ridge just as the trail begins to descend again. It offers good views of Camel’s Hump to the north.
This was a good summer hike for us. After years of having to at least carry and usually wear fleece and shells while hiking (in Alaska) I’m definitely enjoying hiking with fewer layers and a lighter pack! The flip side of this, of course, is that we have to get used to hiking in the heat and humidity – ugh. We did this hike on a day that was hot in Middlebury (85 is hot to me) but because we started in the morning and because the hike was at a decent elevation the temp was totally pleasant for our hike. I’d been worried that hiking in Vermont would end up being a spring & fall activity for our family but maybe, maybe we can figure out how to hike through the summer without melting!