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  • Writer's pictureIzzy Risitano

Velvet Rocks & Nearby Spurs | 2/26/24

Last May, Liz & I set out for a Vermont to Route 25C section of the Appalachian Trail and nearly completed it. The only issue was that we were not keen on paying for three days of parking in Hanover and did not begin at the border. Rather, we started at the intersection of East Wheelock Street and Trescott Road where there was far more confidence in not getting towed.  

Velvet Rocks shelter

That said, I still had Velvet Rocks and the several (seemingly) useless spurs in the area to complete. Liz & I took advantage of free weekend parking at the Dartmouth Fieldhouse and did a short road walk along South Park Street until we got past the Mobil and followed the white blazes past the field and into the woods. We didn’t take a step past the trail sign before putting on microspikes, as the ice was thick and plentiful over the steeper rock pitches in the beginning. Unfortunately, my now dumpster-living poles broke before we started and I lacked stability atop several steep ice descents.

When we got higher up on the Velvet Rocks ridge, the slick ice was replaced with crunchy snow and allowed for quicker travel. Ascending to the shelter from the South was gentle and we knew we’d arrived when we heard Weezer and smelled a solo hiker’s campfire. We crept around him to a pleasant outlook to the right and then headed down to The East Wheelock Street Spur (guide, Gaia) which was signed "Velvet Rocks Shortcut" from the road. As we came back to the Velvet Rocks Trail, there was one steep descent that I despised on account of my absent poles. Soon after, we linked up with a familiar trail and then closed the shelter loop out on some nicely broken, traction-rich trail.

HOL outlook

AKA East Wheelock Street Spur


Coming down the out-and-back part of the AT was just as slick going up despite the afternoon sun, but still made for a fun slide down.

Not kind on dulled spikes

Once we got back to the road we removed spikes and moved the car to Oli’s Eagle Trail off of Velvet Rocks Drive. The trail surprisingly started in a gorgeous neighborhood. The lot fits 6 cars, which was full even though we did not run into other hikers. The trail was well-blazed and gained 333 feet in a loop with the neighboring Greensboro-Highland trail. Though these probably are not worth doing absent of the trace in my opinion, they were well marked and something I’d frequent if I was local.

 

After Oli’s we returned to a now-empty parking lot, I dropped Liz back off at Dartmouth and then plugged in the coordinates for the “dreaded” Trescott spur. As suspected, there was no reasonable place to park along Trescott Road due to the snow, so I road-walked 0.4 miles from the aforementioned Wheelock/Trescott lot to the start of the Trescott spur, marked with a sign and a double-blue blaze. The trail was initially littered with blowdowns but became easier to discern as I climbed more directly to the unnamed 1250-foot summit on the AT. There was only one set of tracks in the snow, which allowed me to bare boot up but I opted to come down in spikes for the few icy sections.


What you tracers call a chad, right?

Though a stereotypical “loose ends” day, it was nice to enjoy the sun without driving 3 hours from my Vermont campus to the central Whites. To my surprise, I even ended up hiking 7.17 miles.

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