Activity: Hike to Sterling Pond
When to go: May - October
Level: Beginner to Intermediate
Who to go with: Fishing buddies, your dog or your kids
Closest resort: Stowe Mountain Resort, Smugglers’ Notch Resort
Just a five-minute drive from either Stowe Mountain Resort or Smugglers’ Notch Resort sits the Sterling Pond trailhead. The Sterling Pond hike is part of Vermont’s fabled Long Trail, the first long-distance hiking trail in the U.S. The Long Trail spans 270-plus miles from the Massachusetts state line to the Canadian border along the Green Mountain State’s highest peaks.
A moderate 45-minute hike along the Long Trail brings you to the shores of Sterling Pond. Photo by Carrie Kasper.
The approximately 45-minute ascent to Sterling Pond from the parking area on Route 108 at the top of the Notch begins with a bit of stair-stepping over a series of rocks and tree roots. After the initial steep portion, the trail widens and the grade decreases. As the hike draws closer to Sterling Pond, talc outcroppings can be spotted along the ridge.
Upon reaching the pond’s wooded shores, it’s time to relax and take in the tranquil setting or begin assembling a fly rod. If beautiful views and a peaceful setting isn’t enough of a reward following the hike, the potential to land rainbow and brook trout in this alpine setting surely is. While the western-side of the pond offers unobstructed fly-casting, the northern-side provides a bit more privacy and decreases the chance of fish getting spooked by a dog splashing in the pond or a kid skipping rocks.
Sterling Pond is full of rainbow and brown trout sure to please any angler. Photo by Carrie Kasper.
A few excursions from the pond can unveil even more spectacular vistas. Follow the trail around the pond through the woods until reaching a wide road on the left. That road leads to the top of Smuggs’ Sterling lift. This vantage point offers views of the mountains to the west and north—including Jay Peak on a clear day.
A 15-minute hike to the south ends at the top of Stowe’s Spruce Peak. This jaunt affords views of the Stowe Valley and of Mount Mansfield, Vermont’s highest peak.