- Bob LoCicero
Summit Series: Mount Equinox - Skyline Drive
Estimated Mileage: 5.2 miles Estimated Time: As long as you want
The Mount Equinox Skyline Drive toll road rises 3,140 feet in 5.2 miles from the base on VT-7A in Manchester, VT to the summit of Mount Equinox at 3,858 feet. Along the way, there are shaded picnic areas and vistas to the south, east and west. The summit has a full 360-degree view of Vermont, the Adirondacks and New Hampshire. On a clear day, you can see Mount Royal in Montreal.
We visited the mountain on a hot and hazy August Saturday. Despite the haze, the views were spectacular looking over the town of Manchester, down the Batten Kill River valley. On a typical day, the average temperature change between base and summit is 10 degrees. Even on our hot hazy day there was a cool breeze.
The privately owned paved road has 29 turns and is in excellent condition. The ride isn’t overly technical, but there are five or six hairpin turns that demand your attention. The road has two-way traffic: drivers coming down the mountain will share hairpins with you, so stay close to the outside edge of your lane.
You can stop for photos and enjoy the view at pull-offs along the route. Two shaded picnic areas, with clean, marble tables are peaceful and make great places to enjoy a picnic lunch or supper. There are restrooms at the base.
A summit building was under construction in August 2012 and should be completed during the 2012 season. When complete, the facility will provide indoor tables, restrooms, lookout porches and 360-degree view.
There is a network of hiking trails on the upper portion of the mountain. Most are under a mile in length, but loops require one to several miles of hiking. The Burr Burton trail, from Manchester to the summit, is 4 miles long.
The Annual Mount Equinox Hill Climb is a vintage sports cars race. The course record is 4 minutes, 28 seconds for an average speed of 60 mph. The event is free for spectators. The road is closed during the event.
The road is open May 1st through October 31st. Spring hours – May 1st through June 30th -- are 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday through Wednesday and 9 a.m. to sunset Thursday through Sunday. Summer hours – July 1st through October 31st are 9 a.m. to sunset, every day.
The toll is $12 for motorcycles. Passengers are free. You can get a $2 off coupon here. There is no time limit for how long you can enjoy the park and you can ride the road as many times as you choose (provided you do not go back through the gate).
The base of the toll road is 5.3 miles south of the intersection of VT-30, VT-11 and VT-7A in Manchester Center. The ride down 7A is pleasant, but heavily travelled. Speed limits are mostly 35-45 Mph. Traffic frequently clogs the intersection at Manchester Center. To avoid the traffic, approach from the south on 7A from Bennington.