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Campus Life
Outdoor Programs

Long Trail Hike

Vermont Academy students returning from their week-long Long Trail hike, conceived and developed by science instructor and Director of Outdoor Programs, Nate Williams.

Long Trail Project Vision

In keeping with VA's distinguishing MAPS™ (My Action Plan for Success) program, Williams has set an ambitious goal of his own. His vision is to offer the program each summer at a different entry-point on the trail so that an incoming freshman that hikes each year could reach his or her goal of completing the 275-mile trail by senior year. Based on the overwhelming success of the pilot program, Williams is already thinking of ways to take more student hikers on Long Trail next summer.

"The Long Trail project is an extension of what I aim to provide students through Outdoor Programs. During our weeklong journey, students will hike over 40 miles, carry everything on their backs, live outside with the elements, and bond as a micro-community. As they test their physical and mental strength, students will experience an increased level of self-awareness and self-reliance—that's really empowering. As they learn more about themselves, they will determine their role to best serve the community. Working together as a whole and recognizing that each member of our community plays a vital part is an underpinning of Vermont Academy."

Along the way, students also learned about the biodiversity of Vermont's forest ecosystems through species identification of trees, birds, amphibians, and mammals, as well as lessons on the geological and cultural history of Vermont. The journey took the group through over 40 miles of central Vermont forest, passing by two majestic lakes and summiting several of Vermont's Green Mountains including its second highest mountain, Killington Peak.

"I walk slowly so that I can connect with nature. I can taste the forest. I want to drink the stars. I am transcending." Student hiker Kaijie Cai

List of 2 items.

  • Long Trail Founded by VA Faculty Member

    Former VA teacher and Assistant Headmaster, James P. Taylor, 1908-1912, began his crusade in 1909 to open up Vermont's mountains and woodlands. He was inspired by a difficult trip with VA students up a washed-out road to Killington and an attempt to climb Pico Peak, only to be turned back by impenetrable brush. By 1910, he had 23 supporters organized the Green Mountain Club "to make the Vermont mountains play a larger part in the life of the people." The construction of the trail took over 20 years and hundreds of people were involved in its creation. It is the oldest long-distance trail in the United Sates and spans the entire length of Vermont, following the spine of the Green Mountain range from south to north, stretching 275 miles total. Taylor is also credited with founding the country's longest-standing Winter Carnival, which he started at Vermont Academy in 1909.

    With James Taylor taking the first step in 1910, Vermont Academy has continued to this day utilizing the Long Trail as a venue for students and teachers alike to connect with Vermont’s natural world. From orientation outings to environmental education courses, VA uses the Long Trail as an integral role in its education.
  • More About VA's Long Trail Team Leaders

    Nate Williams, science instructor and director of the Outdoors Program, has hiked the entire Long Trail in 30 days. He has led backcountry trips in the Adirondacks, completed a three-week NOLS course in the Wind River Range in Wyoming, and holds a Wilderness First Responder certification. Williams also teaches rock climbing at VA and assists in VA's 10-day study trip to Belize.

    Christine Armiger, science instructor and director of the Sustainability Program, holds a Wilderness First Responder certification and has worked as an expedition leader and hiking guide in Alaska and Montana. Christine is a member of VA's Global Programs team, and she created and leads VA's 10-day study program in Belize.