Hiking to Catch a Sunrise at Jay Peak


Taylor A Ritz

Jay Peak: At a Glance

Type: Out-and-back

Length: 3.1 miles

Time to Complete: 4 hours

Elevation Gain: 1,680 feet

Difficulty: Moderate

Season: March to October

Some of the most wondrous views on the eastern seaboard are observed from the mountain summits in Vermont. Jay Peak is one such summit, offering breathtaking views as well as a mountain-top snack bar and ski resort.

Though a gondola enables adventurers to easily access the summit, there’s nothing quite like reaching the mountain’s apex under your own steam.

The trail to Jay Peak’s summit is a 3-mile portion of the Long Trail, a 273-mile path that traverses the length of Vermont, and is accessed on Route 242.

How to Get to the Long Trail Trailhead for Hiking Jay Peak

The Long Trail trailhead is located 6 miles southwest of Jay, Vermont on Route 242. Take Cross Road south out of Jay then turn right onto 242. Travel 5.1 miles, passing the Jay Peak Ski Resort on your right,  until you see the sign for the trailhead. Parking is located across the road from the trailhead, on the south side, and has no associated fees.

Jay Peak route 242

When to Hike Jay Peak

The Long Trail to Jay Peak can be enjoyed in any season, but each has its advantages and disadvantages. 

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

Summer: Hiking in this area is a popular summer activity in Vermont. Hikes are best accomplished early in the morning before temperatures soar and the mountain becomes crowded. Black flies and mosquitos can also be an issue in the summer months.

Fall: Hiking the Long Trail during the fall season can be an immensely rewarding experience, especially if you time your hike with the color-changing of the leaves. Plan for a vast variety of potential temperature and weather conditions on a fall hike. 

Winter: Though not technically closed in the winter, those who decide to summit Jay Peak during winter months should be experienced hikers and mountaineers. Spikes or snowshoes are necessary when hiking this mountain in winter. Jay Peak is also a ski resort, so familiarize yourself with ski trails to avoid mishaps.

 

What to Expect when Hiking Jay Peak

The Long Trail is usually well-maintained, sporting white blazes, or markers, to easily follow the path. The trail is a typical hike in Vermont: characterized by steep, rocky climbs with few switchbacks.

Long Trail Jay Peak

(Photo used under CC 3.0 License at https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0/deed.en ; Author: Famartin)

As you begin to make your way northbound on the Long Trail, you will find a small shelter. This wooden lean-to is the Atlas Valley Shelter, which is not intended for overnight use. Shortly after entering the woods, you will come to an intersecting loop trail with signs for Jay Camp. Jay Camp is an overnight shelter for hikers on the Long Trail. Take the right fork to stay on the trail.

The trail will begin to climb gradually, then more steeply as you continue towards the summit. After one mile you will turn left, over steep ledges, following the white blazes. At the 1.2-mile mark, you will emerge on a ski trail. Continue directly across the trail and climb the steep rocks to the summit, shared with the Jay Peak Tramway. 

After you’ve enjoyed the views or a snack at the snack bar, head back down the same trail to return to the parking lot and Route 242.

This challenging but short hike is perfect for inexperienced hikers, children, and seasoned backpackers alike and takes an average of 3 to 4 hours to complete.

Jay Peak Summit

Jay Peak is a part of the Green Mountain Range, located in Jay Peak State Forest. The 3,786-foot summit is rocky and open, with a snack bar offering a place to sit, cooked food, drinks, and a restroom.

The View from Jay Peak

Jay Peak’s 360-degree views include the Adirondack Mountains to the west, the Worcester Range to the east, and the rest of the Green Mountain range to the north and south.

What to Wear When Hiking Jay Peak

Having the correct attire along with you on a hike can significantly impact your enjoyment of the activity. Sunrise at the top of Jay Peak can be chilly and windy any time of year. Be sure to check the weather conditions before you go and dress appropriately.

Catching a Sunrise at Jay Peak

Trying to catch a sunrise from the top of a mountain adds significant challenges as you will be required to climb the mountain in the dark. Be sure each member of your hiking party has a headlamp to traverse the rocky trail and give yourself ample time to reach the summit.

Jay Peak Sunrise

The Best Place to Watch the Sunrise at Jay Peak

The rocky summit of Jay Peak is just above the tree-line and offers gorgeous views of the surrounding area. To watch sunrise all you really need to do is make your way to the east side of the summit and look up!

Jay Peak Resort also offers an Easter sunrise service each year, weather permitting, followed by an Easter brunch back at the resort.

Month

Sunrise (Average Time)

Sunset (Average Time)

Average Daily Temperature (F)

January

7:22 am

4:37 pm

17.6

February

6:50

5:17

22.9

March

6:46

6:44

26.2

April

6:04

7:36

39.1

May

5:21

8:13

53.0

June

5:04

8:37

60.8

July

5:20

8:32

67.3

August

5:54

7:54

65.2

September

6:30

7:00

59.3

October

7:08

6:04

47.4

November

6:48

4:22

32.8

December

7:21

4:11

19.4

Source

Jay Peak: Interesting Facts

John Jay Peak

  • Jay Peak and the nearby town of Jay were both named after the first Chief Justice of the United States, John Jay.
  • Jay Peak is the last significant peak for a northbound hiker on a Long Trail thru-hike.
  • Jay Peak was originally settled by the Abenaki people.
  • The area of the state Jay Peak occupies is known as the “Northeast Kingdom.”

1 comment


  • Elaine W.

    Vermont is so beautiful. I’ve never heard of Jay Peak. I think this would be good for me because I don’t like real long hikes. I’m ready to be done within 5 hours so this would be perfect!


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