Orange County High Point Trip Report

Butterfield Mtn (3,167 ft) and Signal Mtn (3,360+ ft)

Date: September 6, 2003
Authors: Ken and Karen Jones

Previous reports, for which thanks are due, do not include a route that combines Orange and Caledonia counties. We did combine them, and offer the following for future climbers. Better routes will likely be found; we can only tell what worked for us.

From the junction of US 302 and Vermont route 25, proceed east on 302 (actually, it will mostly be in a northerly direction) for 2.9 miles. On the left is a forest road, signed as Groton State Forest, Butterfield Mountain Block (DeLorme calls this "Gore Road"). Turn left onto this road and zero your odometer.

The road is good gravel, and was passable to our rental Ford Taurus in dry weather. At 0.3 mile from Highway 302, you will reach a junction, signed for snowmobilers as 302W to the left and 302E to the right. Bear left onto 302W. At 0.7 mile you'll reach another junction. Go right onto 302A, with an initial steep climb. Follow this road as it bends right and trends upward across the east face of Butterfield Mountain. At 2.2 miles from the highway is a grassed-over pullout on the west side of the road. We parked here, just before the road drops to cross the stream that drains between Butterfield and Signal. The USGS topo shows the road ending in this vicinity; in fact, it continues across the stream and on for at least another half-mile - we quit scouting it at that point.

From our parking place we headed west across the pullout and into the trees for a few yards, then turned southwest and followed the often indistinct ridge top all the way to Butterfield Mountain's summit. This is trailless cross-country travel, and the brush is often thick. But we found the raspberry fields (forever, Karen said) to be passable in a way northwestern blackberries would not be, and the upper half of the ridge proved to have numerous animal trails that lasted for a hundred yards at a time. The summit is fairly flat; estimate the highest point and look for a tree with a surveyor's ribbon and a register in a glass jar tied to a tree near eye-level.

From Butterfield's summit we headed briefly west and then turned northerly, aiming toward the saddle between Burnt and Signal which was occasionally visible through the trees. The area from here to the stream at the bottom (the one draining the Signal/Butterfield saddle) was the worst going of the day - the brush was thicker, there were more downed trees, and it was often fairly steep. But we did see a moose.

We reached the main, east-west stream near its confluence with the stream draining the Burnt/Signal saddle, and headed for the east bank of the latter. Here we found reasonably good animal trails for the first 300 to 400 feet of gain, after which we ended up in thicker brush and eventually spruces. Persevering through these in a northeasterly direction (leaving the stream and heading straight toward Signal) we reached much easier going from around 3000 feet to the summit. Again, there is a register in a jar hanging from a tree that is flagged with bright tape.

Our return was more or less a retracing of our steps to the east-west stream, at which point a major animal trail that turned out to be a very overgrown old road led us on the north side of the stream (with a detour around a very muddy section of the road) to deposit us on the 302A road by a "No ATVs" sign about 100 yards from our car.