WEST BURKE — As soon as you arrive at the shores of Lake Willoughby, hidden amid the sylvan splendor of Vermont’s Northeast Kingdom, you realize you are in for a treat. The dark blue water of this glacially carved basin lies between the precipitous cliffs of Mount Hor and Mount Pisgah. The scenery becomes even more enchanting as you make your way to the 2,751-foot summit of Pisgah.
The South Trail starts easily on switchbacks. Halfway up, take a slight detour to the left to stand atop Pulpit Rock. This small, semicircular ledge juts out of Pisgah like a box seat at a Broadway play. If you have a problem with vertigo, don’t look down. From here, the ascent becomes an arduous trek upward in a spiral fashion.
With decent visibility, you should be able to spot the spine of the Green Mountains and that distinctive peak seen across much of the state, Camel’s Hump. Eat your picnic lunch and head downhill, where you’ve earned a refreshing dip in the lake.
Allow 3 hours for the round trip. From West Burke, take State Route 5A north for 6 miles to a parking area on the left, just south of Lake Willoughby. The South Trail begins across the highway.