Picture a quiet scene where a few sailboats ride gentle breezes on a large blue lake snuggled between a country lodge, forest and mountains. Then add a deep woods hike of moderate difficulty, a picturesque waterfall and high-elevation beaver pond.
This is Stowe’s Nebraska Valley area, and the way to see it all is to hike the Lake Mansfield Trail. Your destination on this trail is Taylor Lodge, a rustic cabin located just above Nebraska Notch.
The lodge marks the point where the Lake Mansfield Trail connects with the 265-mile Long Trail, which crosses all of Vermont.
The trail starts in a parking lot next to the members-only Lake Mansfield Trout Club. Follow the trail markers and remember to stay off any roads, trails and property of the privately owned club.
At a fairly leisurely pace, the hike to Taylor Lodge takes about 90 minutes.
The hike’s first 45 minutes involves climbs of only a modest elevation, and although rocky and uneven, the trail is pretty easy to manage. Bring plenty of water.
The hike’s second half becomes moderately difficult, as the elevation increases more rapidly, and the trail becomes wet and rocky at points. But your effort here is greatly rewarded, as a deep woods waterfall suddenly appears on your left.
A short spur trail allows you to follow the waterfall for part of its descent. And just a few minutes past the waterfall is a large beaver pond, which marks your entry through Nebraska Notch. A short hike past the beaver pond on this easily identifiable trail brings you to Taylor Lodge.
Named after the creator of the Long Trail, the lodge is a resting and snack stop for many Long Trail hikers. Eating a packed lunch on the lodge’s front porch while viewing distant mountains and the deep, quiet forest is a pleasant way to rest before heading back down the trail.
Return to the parking area via the same trail. The entire trip is easily accomplished in half a day.