Mount Pisgah is a popular hike in Vermont’s Northeast Kingdom and we’re sharing everything you need to know to hike it, including the multiple routes, different overlooks, & more!
After spending a little over a week exploring some of Vermont’s popular sights, like the quaint town of Stowe, hiking in the Green Mountains, and learning all about maple syrup, we headed to Lake Willoughby in the Northeast Kingdom for one final Vermont adventure.
And we have to say, we think we saved the best for last! What started out as a very foggy morning turned into one of the most gorgeous days we had in Vermont, with the BEST fall foliage, epic views, and stunning hikes.
Watch our experience hiking to Mount Pisgah in Vermont’s Northeast Kingdom!
We started off our one day in the area hiking Mount Pisgah, which takes you to the top of a peak that towers over Lake Willoughby and has spectacular views of the surrounding area’s mountains, hills, and farmland. We were in absolute awe of the scenery around us and had permanent smiles for the entire day.
And in this guide we’re sharing everything you need to know to hike it for yourself, including information about the area, when to hike the trail, the different trailheads and parking lots, how to not miss the best views, and more!
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- The ULTIMATE Guide to driving the Kancamagus Highway
- How to Backpack the Cutler Coast in Maine
- About Mount Pisgah in Vermont
- The Different Trails to Mount Pisgah
- How to get to Mount Pisgah in Vermont
- When to hike Mount Pisgah
- What to Bring to Mount Pisgah
- Things to know before visiting Mount Pisgah
- Our experience hiking Mount Pisgah in Vermont
- Where to stay near Mount Pisgah in Vermont
- Other things to do near Mount Pisgah in Vermont
Note: this guide contains affiliate links, which means that if you use the links provided and make a purchase, we get a small commission at no extra cost to you. We will only ever recommend products we truly love, actually use during our adventures, and think you can benefit from too!
About Mount Pisgah in Vermont
Mount Pisgah is located in an area of Northern Vermont that is called the Northeast Kingdom (abbreviated NEK), which got this nickname from a former US Senator and governor, George Aiken, who loved the area and thought it should be a kingdom. And we couldn’t agree more…it is magical!
The Northeast Kingdom is home to small towns, forests, farmland, mountains, and beautiful Iakes, including Lake Willoughby, which is just below Mount Pisgah. Lake Willoughby, which is nicknamed the Lucerne of America, was carved out by a glacier and with the cliffs surrounding it, it kind of looks like a mini Norwegian fjord. When we first saw a photo of it, we couldn’t believe it was in Vermont!
Lake Willoughby is the second deepest lake in Vermont, only second to Lake Champlain, at over 320 ft deep in some places. And from the top of Mount Pisgah you have phenomenal views of this lake, as well as of the surrounding Northeast Kingdom. We truly couldn’t believe our eyes on this hike…the scenery is just breathtaking!
Just an FYI: There is a Mount Pisgah in North Carolina, which is the more common of the two to show up when Googling. So make sure you specify that you’re looking for Mount Pisgah in Vermont when researching.
Before embarking on your adventure, please review the Leave No Trace principles to ensure you leave every place better than you found it, so that others can enjoy these beautiful places for many years to come!
These seven principles include planning ahead and preparing, hiking and camping on durable surfaces, disposing of waste properly (pack out what you pack in!), understanding campfire rules and always fully extinguishing your fires, respecting wildlife, and being considerate of other visitors.
The Different Trails to Mount Pisgah
There are two major routes to hike to the top of Mount Pisgah, which are pretty similar in terms of difficulty.
Mount Pisgah South Trail
Elevation gain: 1,653 feet
Reviews & Current Conditions
The South Trail is the one we took to get to the top of Mount Pisgah and we highly recommend it! The South Trail starts from a parking area just south of Lake Willoughby, with a parking lot on each side of VT-5A and climbs the south side of Mount Pisgah.
And a fun fact about this trail is that it was created in the 1850s as a bridle path for inn guests to be able to access the mountain views. In the 1930s, the CCC came in and improved the trail to make it accessible for hiking. That makes this trail over 171 years old!
The trail is pretty steep from the beginning and most of the trail is in the forest until you get close to the overlooks, with the first being Pulpit Rock overlooking Lake Willoughby. If you follow the exact route on the AllTrails map, you will come across two more overlooks further down the trail, one that overlooks Lake Willoughby and one that overlooks the area more to the south. The views from all the overlooks are spectacular!
But one thing to note about this route on the AllTrails map is that the marked trail ends before the best overlook. We suggest continuing just past the first North Overlook to the second North Overlook for even more expansive views.
Mount Pisgah via North Trail
Elevation gain: 1,650 feet
Reviews & Current Conditions
The North Trail for Mount Pisgah takes you to most of the same overlooks as the South Trail, minus Pulpit Rock, unless you decide to continue on and add on more distance.
Besides one less overlook, this trail is also a bit different because of parking. Instead of having two parking lots to choose from, the North Trail just starts on the side of VT-5A, with just a dirt pull out for parking.
While parking could be tough if it’s busy, the advantage is that with less people able to park at this trailhead, you’ll likely have more solitude on the way up.
How to get to Mount Pisgah in Vermont
With its location in the northeast corner of Vermont, Mount Pisgah is a bit remote and harder to get to, but trust us, it’s worth the trek! Assuming you’ll be visiting while in Vermont or New Hampshire, here is how long you can expect to drive from other popular spots in the area:
Stowe, VT: 1 hour, 15 minutes (54 miles)
Montpelier, VT: 1 hour, 15 minutes (57 miles)
Lincoln, NH: 1 hour, 15 minutes (67 miles)
Burlington, VT: 2 hours (97 miles)
Boston, MA: 3 hours, 15 minutes (196 miles)
You can either visit Mount Pisgah and Lake Willoughby as a day trip, or stay in the area for a night or two. If you’d like to make it an overnight trip, we’ll include some suggestions of places to stay at the end of this guide.
When to hike Mount Pisgah
While you can hike to Mount Pisgah year round, we highly recommend hiking in the summer or fall. But here is what you can expect during each season!
It will be very cold, but you can hike to Mount Pisgah in the winter. Seeing the mountains covered in snow would be a gorgeous contrast with the lake, plus the crowds will be very light. Just make sure to pack microspikes or snowshoes to ensure you can safely hike the trail!
Spring in Vermont is known as “mud season,” which is when the snow melts and makes the trails nice and muddy. While the hike would be doable during this time and would be less busy, it may not be as enjoyable.
With Lake Willoughby just down the street, the summers can be popular with people enjoying the warmer weather and getting out on the lake, so the crowds will be much higher. But the trees will be nice and green and the lake will be pretty refreshing after this short, but steep hike.
We hiked to Mount Pisgah in the fall and the fall foliage was breathtaking. After being too early for foliage in Stowe, we were a bit bummed to miss out on the iconic Vermont foliage, but the Northeast Kingdom, which usually peaks in late September or early October, did NOT disappoint!
The trails in the area weren’t too busy on a weekday, but the only downside is that it was too cold to get out on the water at Lake Willoughby, at least the day we went.
What to Bring to Mount Pisgah
To see everything we take hiking, check out our hiking gear as well as our guide about how to make a 10 essentials kit. But here are a couple items we want to point out that will especially help you during this hike!
We don’t typically use hiking poles because we just do not have enough hands with filming and walking Kona, but we can definitely see how these could be helpful on this trail, as it’s pretty steep. If we were to buy some we’d most likely have these, as they are super light.
We love downloading the AllTrails map for any hike we do, but we found it especially helpful on this hike, not because we thought we would get lost, but to ensure we didn’t miss any overlooks.
As we mentioned above, the actual map for the hike has you ending before the best part. But by looking at the AllTrails Map, we could see that there was another overlook ahead, which we may not have known without the map (or reading reviews beforehand). You will need an AllTrails Pro membership to download maps, which is $30 a year and so worth it!
Things to know before visiting Mount Pisgah
Here are a few more things to know before hitting the trail!
While this area of Vermont is definitely more remote and less busy than places like Stowe, it can still be popular in the summertime and during the fall foliage, so we suggest starting early to have some solitude at the overlooks. We hiked right after sunrise and didn’t see more than a couple people until the way down.
There are portapotties at the South Trailhead, but not at the North Trailhead, so plan ahead if you plan to hike the North Trail! There are some restrooms at Lake Willoughby’s North Beach if you need somewhere to go before.
Dogs are welcome on the hike to Mount Pisgah! Your furry friend might enjoy the view, but will certainly love the sniffs and exercise!
Our experience hiking Mount Pisgah in Vermont
After a foggy summit of Mount Mansfield (the highest point in Vermont), just a couple days before, we were excited to visit the Lake Willoughby area and actually get to see some views. But as we arrived at the lake, we were greeted with some super thick fog and instantly worried that we’d have another “no view” hike.
Feeling a bit bummed, we waited around a little bit to see if the clouds would clear and unlike our hike days before, we noticed the clouds thinning out some and booked it to the trailhead to hike to Mount Pisgah.
We arrived at the South Trailhead and only saw one other car there, with the solo hiker just getting started on the trail, so we were feeling excited to hopefully experience some solitude. The trail starts in the forest, but shortly after beginning the hike, we came across a pond, which looked gorgeous with some lingering fog and the fall colors on the trees.
From here, the trail continues in the forest and starts to go uphill, getting our heart rate up a bit. About 0.9 miles into the hike we reached the first overlook, Pulpit Rock. This overlook is just a short offshoot from the main trail and as the name implies, has a rock you can stand on to overlook Lake Willoughby, specifically the South Beach area.
After Pulpit Rock, the trail got steeper and steeper as we climbed towards the summit of Mount Pisgah. Despite having some pretty steep hikes under our belt, we found ourselves huffing and puffing a bit. This part of the trail is back in the forest, but right before the summit, there is a more open area that offers views of the area south of Lake Willoughby. On the way up, you will need to turn around to see this view, but it’ll be right in your face on the hike down.
The summit itself is forested, so don’t expect any views here, but right after reaching it the trail begins to flatten out and go downhill a bit. Shortly after the summit there is a turnoff for the West Lookout, but we didn’t really see it leading to a lookout, so we kept going (we may have missed something though).
Just a bit past the West Lookout sign is the North Overlook, which is a little bit further off the trail and is worth a stop. This overlook is another rocky opening that has views of Lake Willoughby, but it also has more views of the surrounding area. It is GORGEOUS!
There was still some lingering fog, which made the view extra moody and magical, with the sun peeking through in some spots and lighting up the fall foliage. So far, we had seen zero people on our hike and had both overlooks to ourselves, which was a huge perk because they were both pretty small and wouldn’t be super fun to share.
After getting back on the trail, we reached a junction with the North Trail. While our map didn’t say to go past this, we had heard that the North Overlook (the second on the map) had the best views, so we made the quick trek to it. At this point, we had run into another couple, but the trail was still pretty empty.
We didn’t think the views could get any better than what we had seen, but this final overlook was definitely the largest of them all. While each overlook offered a slightly different view, this one definitely provided the most expansive view, with views of Lake Willoughby below, neighboring peaks, the north end of the lake, and more!
Despite loving every area of Vermont that we had visited (the entire state is gorgeous), the views from Mount Pisgah were definitely some of the most impressive we had seen during our time in the state and quickly shot the Northeast Kingdom to the top of our Vermont favorites.
Where to stay near Mount Pisgah in Vermont
While the Northeast Kingdom does have some towns, the area is still a lot less developed than the more touristy areas of Vermont, so lodging options are more limited. But if you’d like to stay near Mount Pisgah before or after your hike, here are some suggestions.
If you want to camp in the area, here are a few options, which offer sites for both tents and RVs.
The Whitecaps Campground is just across the street from Lake Willoughby’s South Beach. They have a variety of accommodations like full RV hookup sites, water & electric hookups, cabins, and tent sites. You can also rent kayaks, canoes, and stand up paddleboards here and they have a country store with any last minute provisions you might need.
Will-O Wood Campground
The Will-O Wood campground is just north of Lake Willoughby’s North Beach and offers sites for both RVs and tents. The property has a pool, basketball court, volleyball court, recreation hall, and more!
The Belview Campground is about a 20 minute drive to Lake Willoughby and the wooded property offers RV sites, tent sites, and a cabin or cottage to rent.
This is a new campground, established in 2020, and is located 15 minutes south of Lake Willoughby. They have secluded, large sites with full RV hookups, a pool, playground, and offer a shuttle service for kayaking and river tubing.
Here are some great Airbnb options in Barton, which is close to Lake Willoughby and Mount Pisgah!
Cozy Cottage in the Northeast Kingdom (1 bedroom, 1 bathroom): This renovated cottage is only a 5 minute drive from the north beach of Lake Willoughby. It has everything you’ll need for a comfortable stay including a rock labyrinth in the yard!
Waterfront Lake House on Crystal Lake (2 bedrooms, 1.5 bathrooms): The location of this lake house is unbeatable. It’s right on Crystal Lake in nearby Barton, VT and has an amazing outdoor space including a deck and firepit with seats around it.
Remodeled 2 bedroom + loft lakefront cottage (3 bedrooms, 1 bathroom): This lakefront cottage has an amazing outdoor space with room to sleep four. Lakefront with mountain views…how can you beat it?
There aren’t many larger hotel options nearby and the closest option is the Comfort Inn & Suites Near Burke Mountain, which is 30 minutes away.
Other things to do near Mount Pisgah in Vermont
Looking for more to do before or after your hike? Here are some ideas of things to do nearby!
Hang out at Lake Willoughby
Lake Willoughby has two beaches, with the North Beach being much larger and more of a “lay out” kind of beach, while the South Beach is more of a cove for boats, but in our opinion has the better view. There is also a clothing optional cove near South Beach.
If you want to kayak on the lake, White Caps Campground offers rentals to the public, as does Clyde River Recreation, which is located north of the lake, but they can drop off the kayaks for you!
Check out the other trails in the area
There are so many amazing hikes besides Mount Pisgah in the area! If you have more energy after hiking up Mount Pisgah, we suggest checking out these trails:
Elevation gain: 1,463 feet
Reviews & Current Conditions
Bald Mountain is another incredible hike in the area and after a steep, rocky hike, you’ll make it to an old fire lookout tower, which has incredible 360º views of the entire Northeast Kingdom. This hike gave Mount Pisgah a run for its money when it came to views! But since they offer completely different views, we vote that you hike both. 🙂
To learn more about this hike, including more photos from the top, check out our guide to hiking Bald Mountain (coming soon)!
Herbert Hawkes Trail
Elevation gain: 859 feet
Reviews & Current Conditions
While at Lake Willoughby and at the top of Mount Pisgah, you’ll notice another towering peak on the other side of the lake. This is Mount Hor and to get to the top you can hike the Herbert Hawkes Trail, which takes you to multiple overlooks of Lake Willoughby and the surrounding area.
Elevation gain: 1,233 feet
Reviews & Current Conditions
A little bit west of Lake Willoughby is Wheeler Mountain and if you hike to the top you’ll get a different perspective than Mount Pisgah or Mount Hor, with a further away view of Lake Willoughby, but additional views of the area as well.
Bike the Kingdom Trails
The Kingdom Trails are over 100 miles of non-motorized trails in the Northeast Kingdom. These trails are popular with mountain bikers, but can be used by runners or hikers as well (and cross country skiers in the winter).
You can see the map of the routes here, as well as current conditions.
Ready to experience the beauty of Vermont’s Northeast Kingdom?
Pin this guide to hiking Mount Pisgah in Vermont to help plan your trip!