Burrows Trail: A Sunrise Hike at Camel's Hump


A Breathtaking Sunrise on Camel’s Hump Mountain

Camel's Hump Sunrise

Catching a sunrise can be difficult for early birds and night owls alike. Trying to catch a sunrise from the top of a mountain adds significant challenges as one must ascend the mountain itself in the dark.

Camel’s Hump is a popular destination to watch the sunrise as it is the tallest undeveloped mountain in Vermont and the summit offers hikers a 360-degree view of the surrounding land. Though it is possible to watch the sunset from Camel’s Hump as well, it is not recommended for inexperienced hikers as the descent could be hazardous in the dark.

Summiting Camel's Hump By Way of Burrows Trail

Type: Out-and-back

Length: 4.8 miles total (2.4 miles each way)

Time to Complete: 3-5 hours

Elevation Gain: 2300 feet

Difficulty: Easy to moderate

The mountain summits of the state of Vermont have some of the most breathtaking views on the eastern seaboard. Camel’s Hump, named for its conical summit above the treeline, offers wondrous 360-degree views of the surrounding mountain ranges and valleys. Camel’s Hump is not only the third tallest mountain in Vermont, but is also the highest undeveloped peak, making it an ideal hiking destination for beginners and avid hikers alike.

By far the shortest, easiest, and most commonly used trail to summit Camel’s Hump is the Burrows Trail. Burrows Trail is a 2.4-mile out-and-back hike from trailhead to summit and takes approximately 3-5 hours to complete.

 Sunrise Hike Camel's Hump

How to Get to Burrows Trail Trailhead

The Burrows Trail trailhead is located about a half an hour drive from Burlington, at the end of Camel’s Hump Road in Huntington, Vermont. Do not confuse this trailhead with that of the Monroe Trail, which is located at the end of a (different) Camel’s Hump Road in Duxbury.

Parking is allowed along the side of Camel’s Hump Road or in designated areas along the road. Parking and use of Camel’s Hump State Park are both free.

When to Hike Burrows Trail

Burrows Trail can be enjoyed in any season, but each has its advantages and disadvantages. 

Spring: Though Burrows Trail is open almost year-round, the Green Mountain Club closes the trail during “mud season,” the period of time between when the snow begins to melt and Memorial Day weekend. The purpose of this closure is to allow the trail time to dry out, as hiking on the wet trails leads to damage and erosion.

Summer: Hiking Burrows Trail is a popular summer activity in Vermont. These hikes are best undertaken early in the morning before temperatures rise and the park becomes more crowded. Black flies and mosquitos can be bothersome in the summer months.

Fall: Hiking the Burrows Trail in the fall can be a greatly-rewarding experience, especially if coinciding with the color-changing of the leaves. Plan for a variety of weather conditions and temperatures on a fall hike. 

Winter: Though not technically closed in the winter, those who decide to summit Camel’s Hump during winter months should be more experienced hikers and mountaineers. Spikes or snowshoes are necessary when hiking Camel’s Hump in winter. 

What to Expect on Burrows Trail

Used in the winter for snowshoeing and skiing, the Burrows Trail is well-maintained, sporting blue blazes, or markers, to easily follow. The trail is typical for Vermont: steep and rocky, with climbs, switchbacks, and streams. The first mile is a moderate ascent before the incline increases. 

After 2.1 miles you will reach a small clearing where the Burrows Trail intersects 3 other trails; make note of your way back to avoid descending down the wrong side of the mountain. This clearing is the last covered area before the summit; once above treeline you are much more exposed to weather and wind conditions. Take a right and ascend the summit on the Long Trail South.

The last 0.3 miles to the summit is by far the hardest, characterized by a steep rock scramble, but the reward is worth the final effort.

This challenging but short hike is perfect for children or inexperienced hikers in addition to seasoned backpackers.

Camel's Hump Summit

Sunrise hike camels hump

Camel’s Hump is 4,083 feet above sea level and one of only 4 areas of alpine tundra vegetation in Vermont. These 10 acres are highly protected and visitors are required to leash dogs and stay on designated hiking trails at all times. 

Camel’s Hump’s 360-degree views include Lake Champlain and the Adirondack Mountains to the west, the Worcester range to the northeast, and the rest of the Green Mountain ridge to the north and south. On an exquisitely clear day, you may be able to see the Presidential Mountains to the east.

The Many Faces of Camel's Hump

Here are some other trail options to reach the panoramic summit of Camel’s Hump:

South Face: You can hike the south face via the Forest City Trail and Long Trail (northbound) to traverse the southern face of Camel’s Hump. This route is technical and steep, so it is not ideal for beginners or during adverse weather conditions, as rocks may become slippery and accidents are more likely to occur.

East Face: The Monroe/Dean/Long Trail (southbound) ascends the east face. This hike has over 2500 feet of vertical rise and the 7.4 miles usually takes 6 hours to complete.

Interesting Facts About Camel's Hump

  • The profile of Camel’s Hump is visible on the Vermont quarter, coat of arms, and flag
  • A B-24J bomber plane crash from 1944 is still visible along the Alpine Trail
  • The rocks that compose Camel’s Hump are 550 million years old
  • The Long Trail crosses Camel’s Hump and is a 273-mile continuous trail from the Vermont/Massachusetts border to the Canada border.

How to Catch Sunrise on Camel’s Hump

The easiest hike to the summit of Camel’s Hump is via the Burrows Trail. This trail is about 2.4 miles long and thought its elevation gain is challenging, most hikers can reach the top without too much trouble. The Burrows Trail trailhead is located about a half an hour drive from Burlington, at the end of Camel’s Hump Road in Huntington, Vermont. Do not confuse this trailhead with that of the Monroe Trail, which is located at the end of a (different) Camel’s Hump Road in Duxbury.

Parking is allowed along the side of Camel’s Hump Road or in designated areas along the road. Parking and use of Camel’s Hump State Park are both free.

The amount of time it takes to hike to the summit depends on fitness level and hiking experience but takes an average of about 2 hours on the Burrows Trail. The average sunrise and sunset times by month are provided in the table below.

Another option is the Monroe Trail, which is longer and much more difficult. This trail has an elevation gain of 2500 feet, is 7.4 miles long, and can take 6 hours to traverse. The Forest City Trail and Long Trail (northbound) route is another option but this route is steep and technical. The Burrows Trail is your best bet to make sure you arrive in time to watch the sunrise.

Sunrise hike

The Best Place to Watch Sunrise in Camel’s Hump

The summit of Camel’s Hump is above the tree-line and offers 360 degree views of the surrounding countryside. This means that to watch sunrise all you really need to do is face east! 

What to Wear on the Summit

Having the correct attire along with you on a hike can significantly impact your enjoyment of the activity. Sunrise at the top of Camel’s Hump can be chilly and windy no matter the time of year. The average daily temperature by month is provided in the table below, but be sure to check the weather before you go and do not continue with a hike in adverse weather conditions. Once you reach the summit, there is little protection from the elements. 

Even in the summer months, sunrise temperatures warrant warm clothing. Though you may warm up during the ascent, bring a jacket or puffy with you to wear on the summit when you inevitably cool down from lack of movement. Bringing a rain jacket to use as a windbreaker isn’t a bad idea either. It is better the bring extra layers (hat, gloves, long sleeves, pants) you don’t use than to freeze in the pre-dawn temperatures at the top of the mountain. 

You will also need a headlamp for each person so they can navigate the trail in the dark.

The View from Camel’s Hump

Camel’s Hump is 4,083 feet above sea level and is one of only 4 areas of alpine tundra vegetation in Vermont. These 10 acres are highly protected and visitors are required to leash dogs and stay on designated hiking trails at all times. 

Camel’s Hump’s 360-degree views include Lake Champlain and the Adirondack Mountains to the west, the Worcester range to the northeast, and the rest of the Green Mountain ridge to the north and south. On an exquisitely clear day, you may be able to see the Presidential Mountains to the east.

Month

Sunrise (Average Time)

Sunset (Average Time)

Average Temperature (F)

January

7:22am

4:40pm

19.3

February

6:50

5:20

25

March

6:45

6:45

28.3

April

6:07

7:37

40.2

May

5:24

8:13

53.4

June

5:08

8:36

60.8

July

5:24

8:31

66.4

August

5:56

7:54

64.5

September

6:32

7:01

58.2

October

7:08

6:06

47.5

November

6:48

4:25

33.3

December

7:20

4:15

21.5


Braving the Burrows Trail in the dark is a challenging experience, but watching the sunrise from the summit of Camel’s Hump is a breathtaking and wonderful reward for your efforts.

Check out our other Hiking Destination guides!

Havasupai Falls

Jerry Johnson Hot Springs

Cranberry Lake Preserve

Breakneck Ridge

Zebra Slot Canyon

Sunset over Maroon Bells & Maroon Bells Lake Guide


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