Franklin County High Point Trip Report

Big Jay Peak

Date: July 2002
Author: Denis Hanson

Jay Peak, highpoint of Orleans County, is at the northern end of Vermont only a few miles south of Canada. To get there, head for Newport VT, then head west on Routes 100, 101, and 242 to Jay Pass at the southern foot of the mountain. A more scenic route follows Route 58 west from Irasburg, through Hazens Notch, meeting up with Route 242 which you follow north to Jay Pass. There is a dirt parking lot on the south side of the height of land in Jay Pass. This is where you should park (5 out of 6 cars were Subarus when I was there - seems to be the unofficial car of VT). The Long Trail crosses Route 242 at this point.

Follow the Long Trail north for 1.7 miles and 1700 feet of gain to the top of Jay Peak. During the steady ascent there are occasional views to the south and southwest. The high point is on open ledges maybe a hundred feet from the summit gondola station - the other way to get to the top. There are extensive views in all directions - Marcy, Mansfield, Washington, and Montreal were visible.

Big Jay, the high point of Franklin county is the peak one mile to the southwest. To get to Big Jay, head northwest on the Long Trail, descending following a ski run. Be sure to watch for the point where the Long Trail leaves the ski run and enters the woods. Right after leaving the ski run, you reach a sign warning hikers to avoid the summit ledges in bad weather. Just past this sign is an unmarked but well defined trail leading off to the left. This is the trail to Big Jay.

I vaguely remember hearing that a few years ago persons unknown "improved" the existing use path. Improve it they did; the trail is easily followed for 0.75 mile to the peak of Big Jay. There are occasional views to the north and south along the connecting ridge. There were only two blow-downs to avoid. At the summit there is a log book in a pipe attached to a tree.

You descend maybe 400 feet from Jay Peak to the connecting col, then ascend 300 feet to Big Jay. Return the way you came.