Camel's Hump

In Natural areas of Vermont (1964), Hub Vogelmann describes three distinct habitats on Camel's Hump as follows:

  • Camel’s Hump Alpine Tundra: about 10 acres of alpine tundra surrounding the summit (4,083 feet), which he noted is “the only remaining undisturbed alpine summit in Vermont”
  • Camel’s Hump Fir Forest: about 1,000 acres of boreal fir forest (not unlike the boreal forest of Canada) extending in a belt on the upper slopes of Camel’s Hump, between 2,800 and 3,800 feet
  • Camel’s Hump Northern Hardwoods Forest: about 1,000 acres of northern hardwood forest forming a broad belt on the western slopes of Camel’s Hump, between 1,800 and 2,600 feet

In 1965, the Vermont Department of Forests, Parks and Recreation established Camel's Hump Natural Area, a protected area that includes the alpine tundra identified by Vogelmann. In addition, the Camel's Hump Ecological Area was created by Vermont Statute (10 V.S.A §2353) in 1969. The latter includes all state land in Camel's Hump State Park above 2,500 feet plus all land in the Gleason Brook drainage above 900 feet. An additional tract of land within the Phen Basin block of the park was designated as a natural area in May of 1997. Altogether there are more than 7,000 acres of designated natural area in Camel's Hump State Park. Much of the habitat described by Vogelmann is included in that total.

The Long Trail traverses the length of Camel's Hump State Park, reaching its overall lowest point as it crosses the Winooski River just north of the park's northern boundary. On the south side of the river, at the trailhead on Duxbury Road, the altitude is just 350 feet. Five miles south of the trailhead, Camel's Hump rises to 4,083 feet. The hike from the trailhead to the summit is the longest climb on the entire Long Trail.

On 28 April 2023, starting at the trailhead, I followed the Long Trail south to its intersection with the Gleason Brook. There I broke trail and followed the main branch of Gleason Brook to a triple-fork at 1,700 feet. Taking the east fork, I followed Gleason Brook to its source, which led to the Long Trail at 2,364 feet (approximately two miles from the summit of Camel's Hump). A 3-mile hike north along the Long Trail brought me back to my starting point. There are stunning views along this section of the Long Trail, including views of Camel's Hump itself and the whole of the Gleason Brook watershed.

At approximately 1,900 feet, the deciduous hardwood forest that dominates the Gleason Brook watershed became a mixed forest. By 2,330 feet, just shy of the Long Trail, the forest had become almost entirely coniferous. These altitudes differ from those of Vogelmann, but the transition from northern hardwood forest to boreal fir forest occurred just as he predicted.


Publicado el mayo 17, 2023 10:22 MAÑANA por trscavo trscavo


Such a wonderful mountain!

Publicado por tsn hace alrededor de 1 año

It sounds as though you found the Boreal transition at a lower elevation than it was in the 1960's, which seems counterintuitive, given climate change. Maybe elevations while hiking were more estimates then, without GPS and satellites for info? Were you able to get a feel for the caliber of vegetation in general, changed, degraded, improved? I feel like the 50's and 60's were kind of a high point of people being unaware of the effects of their actions on the environment and some things have improved since then. Others have definitely deteriorated though.

Publicado por kathleensweetman hace alrededor de 1 año

@tsn yes, I can't get enough of the place :-)

Publicado por trscavo hace alrededor de 1 año

@kathleensweetman yes, the altitudes I observed were different from those of Vogelmann but it's just one data point so I wouldn't put too much stock into it. If I had taken the center fork (instead of the east fork), it might have been a totally different story.

The potential impact of climate change on Camel's Hump has been studied. See Table 11 on page 64 of the Camel's Hump Management Unit: Long Range Management Plan.

Publicado por trscavo hace alrededor de 1 año

@kathleensweetman here's another data point. This time I followed Preston Brook upstream on the west side of the mountain. In this case, the transition to mixed forest occurred at approximately 2,200 feet. At this point I realized I had a ways to go before I reached the coniferous zone, so I turned back since it was getting late.

For what it's worth, I think these results are consistent with Vogelmann's claims. What's interesting is that none of the land I traversed today is protected. Anything below 2,500 feet in the Preston Brook watershed is open to logging. Some of that area is being logged as we speak.

Publicado por trscavo hace alrededor de 1 año

I went back and read it, and you're absolutely right. He made those observations on the west side, which is going to be very different from the north side or east, etc. The lack of protections for land all over is very disheartening, along with the influx of invasives and degrading habitat in general. But, it is people like you pointing it out, documenting it, presenting the beauty of the native ecosystem to the rest of the world that will lead to improvements, if anything can. So thank you.

Publicado por kathleensweetman hace alrededor de 1 año

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