Exploring Ice Beds Trail
Since this was our third summer camping at Hapgood Pond, the nature trail around the pond, though still pleasant, was getting to be a little boring and easy. We decided to explore more of the Green Mountain National Forest this visit. A stop at the ranger station gave us a lot of information on trails within the GMNF, and we settled on Ice Beds Trail. This is a short, intermediate out-and-back trail, with an unusual payoff at the end.
In the winter, ice forms in the spaces within a huge pile of rocks. Sheltered by the pile, the ice lasts well into the summer, melting slowly and allowing visitors to enjoy a cold draft coming from the pile. Once I stepped into the low point in front of the pile, I felt as though I were standing in front of the refrigerator with the door open!
The hike had some minor ups and downs and at times the trail was hard to follow. The trail is marked with blazes but the footbed was not eroded enough to make the trail apparent. The lack of damage to the land is a very good thing, it just means hikers have to pay attention and look for the blazes. We packed a lunch to eat at the turn-around point and spent plenty of time enjoying the cool air while eating. Then we climbed the rocks to explore. No ice was visible near the surface of the rock pile, but the cold air was evidence of ice buried deep within.
This is a popular trail and we encountered several other parties along the trail. I would recommend trying to do this hike on a weekday like we did. I imagine on a weekend it can get rather crowded.
Overall this was a great hike for beginners or younger children. There are enough elevation changes that it feels like a “real hike” rather than simply a walk in the woods, but neither the distance nor the elevation was too much for our four-year-old.