Three out of five of the 4,000-foot or higher peaks in Vermont  rise from the Mad River Valley . While not the highest mountain in Vermont, the distinctly shaped Camel’s Hump might be the best loved by state residents. Its shape is identifiable for miles around, and its summit remains completely undeveloped and pristine. The most popular ascent is up the 7-mile Monroe Trail, a rock-hopping ascent from a birch-and-beech forest up to the unique alpine vegetation zone of its undeveloped summit. The parking area for the trail is at the end of Camel’s Hump Rd. in Duxbury; the direct way to the summit is up the Monroe Trail to the Long Trail, a distance of about seven miles.
Two more demanding peaks, Mount Ellen and Mount Abraham, can be hiked singly or together, taking in the 4,000-foot ridge between them. For information on all of these hikes, contact the Green Mountain Club (802/244-7037, www.greenmountainclub.org ), or pick up a copy of the club’s indispensable Long Trail Guide, available in most bookstores and outdoors stores in Vermont.
If the mountains seem too daunting, the Mad River Path Association (802/496-7284, www.madriverpath.com ) manages several walking and biking trails that weave in and out of the villages of the valley, taking in farms, woodland, and bridges along the way. Bicycles can be rented from the Inverness Ski Shop (5274 Main St./Rte. 100, Waitsfield, 802/496-3343, www.iskishop.com ).