Podcast 352 – Hunting the Wampahoofus of Mt. Mansfield

On Vermont’s Mt. Mansfield, an elusive creature called the Wampahoofus is said to lurk circling the mountain.

In Episode 352 Jeff Belanger and Ray Auger hike the trails of Mt. Mansfield in northern Vermont in search of the elusive Wampahoofus. Said to be a cross between a deer and a boar, the creature circles the mountain either in a clockwise or counterclockwise direction. Are there any left?

Read the episode transcript.


Produced and hosted by: Jeff Belanger and Ray Auger
Edited by: Ray Auger
Theme Music by: John Judd

Apple Podcasts/iTunes | Spotify | Pandora | Amazon Podcasts | TuneIn | iHeartRadio

New England Legends Facebook Group

Wampahoofus Trail on Mount Mansfield in Vermont.

Wampahoofus Trail on Mount Mansfield in Vermont.

Mount Mansfield in Vermont. Home of the Wampahoofus.

Mount Mansfield in Vermont. Home of the Wampahoofus.

*A note on the text: Please forgive punctuation, spelling, and grammar mistakes. Like us, the transcripts ain’t perfect.

RAY: It’s been a while since we’ve been on a mountain hike, Jeff.
JEFF: It has. Maybe we’ve been getting lazy lately, but we’ll fix that today for sure.
RAY: It looks like a lot of uphill climbing ahead.
JEFF: It is! We’re heading to the very roof of Vermont today, which is the top of Mount Mansfield.
RAY: What are we hoping to find?
JEFF: Two things today. Though one you can only see from a distance. Had we taken a long distance gander as we drove up to Mount Mansfield we might have noticed that the mountain looks like an elongated face looking skyward.
RAY: Got it. Not the first face in a mountain range we’ve seen.
JEFF: No, it’s not, and this one requires a little more imagination than some of the others. But what we’re really looking for is a strange creature they say lurks on this mountain. A creature unlike any other found anywhere else in the world. Today we’re on the hunt for the Wampahoofus.
JEFF: I’m Jeff Belanger. Welcome to Episode 352 of the New England Legends podcast.
RAY: And I’m Ray Auger, thanks for being with us on our quest to chronicle every legend in New England one story at a time. Most of our story leads come from you! So please reach out to us anytime through our Web site. We love hearing about the strange monsters, ghosts, roadside oddities, and other weirdness you’ve encountered and you think we should check out.
JEFF: We’ll go searching for the elusive Wampahoofus right after this word from our sponsor.
RAY: The Wampahoofus?!
JEFF: That’s what it’s called.
RAY: It sounds like some old-fashioned disease. FUNNY STUFFY DOCTOR VOICE: This child either has whooping cough or a bad case of wampahoofus!
JEFF: That’s fair.
RAY: So here’s a little more about Mount Mansfield. At 4,393 feet above sea level, it’s the tallest peak in Vermont. It’s located in the northern part of the state. Stowe Mountain and ski resort is located just a bit to the east of Mount Mansfield. Originally the Abenaki people of this region had a word for the mountain that translates to “Moosehead Mountain.” Besides a few ski resorts, there’s not much population in this part of Vermont.
JEFF: Not the human kind, anyway. But plenty of animals, like moose, deer, and bears, but if we’re to believe the stories, there’s also a strange creature called the Wampahoofus. Or at least there used to be.
RAY: So we’re making our way up Maple Ridge Trail. We’re around the 3,000-foot level of the mountains. Since it’s a clear day, we can see the summit above us. According to this trail sign, the “Forehead,” or top is about 1.1 mile away. And… look at that! Wampahoofus Trail is half a mile ahead. So I’d say we’re getting close.
JEFF: They say the Wampahoofus lurks between the 2,600-foot and 3,200-foot level here on the rocky and steep inclined parts of the mountain. Many of these trails were blazed and named about a century ago. I found references to the Wampahoofus trail at least as far back as 1936. So let’s head back there and search for this mysterious creature.
RAY: It’s early November of 1936 here on Mount Mansfield. The trees are all bare, and there isn’t much snow on the ground yet.
JEFF: Which is perfect because first, there’s no bugs around to annoy us, and second, we have a lot more visibility to spot any kind of animals that may be lurking on the mountain.
RAY: We’re lucky there isn’t much snow because this region can get some epic storms. We’ll have to keep one eye on the sky in case the weather turns.
JEFF: This mountain has been getting a lot more people visiting since some of the trails have been blazed through here. Hiking mountains is becoming increasingly popular. Which means…
RAY: Which means people are walking into territories that had only been the realm of animals before. So people might be spotting critters that don’t lurk near their towns.
JEFF: Good point. The Wampahoofus trail is one of the original trails marked on this mountain. It’s named after this strange creature. A creature lumberjacks have talked about for years. Sometimes it goes by the name: Sidehill Gouger.
RAY: Sidehill Gouger?
JEFF: The Sidehill Gouger or Wampahoofus, only lives on hillsides. It’s a mammal that’s been described as part deer, part wild boar. Two of the legs on one side of their body are about half the size of the legs on the other side. Which is why they move so quickly darting laterally on mountain sides. The longer legs reach the lower slope, and the shorter legs are uphill.
RAY: That’s the weirdest thing I’ve ever heard. So the two right legs could be twice the length as the two left legs?
JEFF: Exactly, at least for half of them.
RAY: Half of them?!
JEFF: They say the males travel in a clockwise direction and the females move in a counter clockwise direction so the females would have two left legs twice the length of the right legs. That’s a quick way to tell them apart—which side legs are longer. To make little Wampahoofuses, I guess they have to intersect their paths just right. And they move so….
RAY: What was that?!
JEFF: I don’t know, I just saw a brown blur of fur!
RAY: Do you think it could have been…
JEFF: I’m not sure… it was moving so fast. Which is exactly how they describe the Wampahoofus moving.
RAY: If an animal like that only ever lives on this mountain, there can’t be a lot of them.
JEFF: Well, some suggest that the Wampahoofus may have been able to migrate west, but it took two clever Wampahoofuses to do it.
RAY: If they can only travel clockwise or counter clockwise on the mountain, how could they move through valleys and things like that?
JEFF: They say a very clever male and very clever female Wampahoofus figured out if they got side-by-side with their short legs touching, they could hold each other’s short legs, and then walk on their two sets of long legs.
RAY: I’m no zoologist, but that sounds insane.
JEFF: It’s what they say. Most agree the creature originated in New England, but may have made it as far west as the Great Lakes region. But it gets weirder….
RAY: Oh I can’t wait.
JEFF: There’s even stories of Vermont farmers cross-breeding their dairy cows with the Wampahoofus so the cows could graze better on the sides of hills and mountains.
RAY: You’d think there would be photos or write-ups of these unique cows?
JEFF: You’d think.
RAY: So earlier, all we saw was a blur of brown fur. We can’t say we actually saw one.
JEFF: No, I’m not sure what we saw. A scurrying critter is not unique to these woods.
RAY: Being so few and far between, the assumption is that the Wampahoofus had but recently gone extinct, which means at this point, we may never spot one. All that’s left is the name of this trail on Mount Mansfield. And that brings us back to today.
JEFF: So, to be fair, there’s nothing in the historical or fossil records to suggest the Wampahoofus was a real creature. But at the same time, every story starts somewhere.
RAY: I mean, if you’ve ever seen a nature documentary about mountain goats, it’s pretty amazing how sure-footed those animals are. They can race across hillsides that you or I would fall down.
JEFF: I get that. Any maybe from a distance if you saw a creature darting along the side of a mountain and you couldn’t see the legs on one side you might assume the only way to move that quick would be to have two legs shorter on one side.
RAY: And then there’s the description of looking like it’s part deer and part boar. Though boars aren’t indigenous to Vermont, some have slipped through over the years having been brought in. So if one cross-bred with another animal….
JEFF: You might have a Wampahoofus!
RAY: Exactly.
JEFF: I had read another story that suggested that the reason the Wampahoofus went extinct is that their legs got shorter and shorter over time until they couldn’t walk anymore.
RAY: That’s funny. Talk about getting evolution wrong!
JEFF: Right?! As people began to invade these once virgin mountains and forests, no doubt they encountered creatures that were unfamiliar. In a desperate attempt to explain what they saw, maybe a story was invented. A story that was passed around enough until it was given a name that stuck… since the story stuck around we can’t help but wonder if something darts in front of us on the mountain that just maybe… it’s the Wampahoofus.
RAY: And that takes us to After the Legend where we dig deeper into this week’s story and sometimes veer off course.
JEFF: After the Legend is brought to you by our Patreon patrons! Our patrons keep this show going and growing. They help with our hosting, production, marketing, and all of the other costs it takes to bring you two stories each week. It’s just $3 bucks per month and for that they get early ad-free access to new episodes, they get bonus episodes and content no one else gets to hear, they get discounted ticket deals to our events, like the show we have coming up September 21st and so much more. Please head over to patreon.com/newenglandlegends to help us out.
To see some pictures of Mount Mansfield click on the link in our episode description, or go to our Web site and click on Episode 352

If you don’t already subscribe to our podcast, please do so right now. It’s free, you can find us anywhere you get your podcasts, and then you won’t miss a thing. You can also help by posting a review for us. Those reviews go a long way in helping others find us. We also love it when you email us through our Web site anytime. We love when you share your story leads, or when you just say hi. You should also join our New England Legends Facebook group for more weirdness, and you can download our free New England Legends app in your app store.
We’d like to thank our sponsors. Thank you our patreon patrons, and our theme music is by John Judd.
Until next time remember… the bizarre is closer than you think.

Liked it? Take a second to support New England Legends on Patreon!
Become a patron at Patreon!

Leave a Reply

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.