This hike is most certainly a sleeper. Nestled in between Belvidere and Waterville at the end of Coddling Hollow Road, the meager... more » elevation change and innocuous looking topography make it appear uninteresting. March up the fairly untrammeled path and you will find trout lillies growing right in the middle of the trail and big red trilliums on the side. The view from up high gives you a nearly 180-degree view centered southwest.
1,500 feet in 3.6 miles doesn't make this section of the Long Trail seem all that daunting, and it is not, but many avid hikers will overlook it for this reason and they should not. The summit is treed, so there may not be any alpine vegetation, but one definitely experiences nearly every other variety of flora and geology on the way up. Starting from the difficult-to-find parking lot, the trail simply resembles a disused logging road among many other much more disused logging roads.
The logging road section quickly changes though after crossing a mountain stream and heading more sharply up. It is at this point that one divines the topography of the area: you are heading up the left side of a basin, crawling up the ridge as it materializes. Soon the trail becomes pretty narrow and more seasonal waterways appear. The trail has a few wet spots, but they are nothing to write home about.
Soon after the trail narrows significantly, the trout lillies and trilliums give way to more typical trail paving: roots and big rocks. At one point, you will find yourself in a deep and seasonal though and largely antedeluvian-seeming flume, with rocks on either side, with the sound of yesterday's rain ticking away. Certainly though this isn't the end, there are also long, and massive rock overhangs furnishing more than a tickling of water. At this point, one can see a southward preview of the view from the lookout.
Laraway Lookout is very obvious on the Long Trail, offering unobstructed views mainly of the Mansfield and Sterling ranges, plus peaks of Lake Champlain. If you like, continue four tenths of a mile to Laraway Mountain's treed summit. Return the way you came. less «