At 3,848 feet above sea level, Mount Equinox offers a 360-degree view of Vermont, New York, New Hampshire, Massachusetts and, on clear days, Montreal’s Mount Royal.

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Equinox is highest peak in the Taconic range. Much of it was cleared by early settlers, and old stone walls from that agricultural era remain deep within the forest. An excellent natural history of the mountain and trail maps are available on the website of the Equinox Preservation Trust.

In 1950, the Reverend Father of the Carthusian Order sent two monks to explore the founding of a monastery in the United States. For ten years, a small group of Carthusians lived on donated property in Whitingham, Vermont.

In 1960, at the invitation of the successful scientist, businessman and conservationist, Dr. Joseph Davidson, and his wife, Madeleine, the Carthusians moved to a secluded site on Equinox, of which the Davidsons gradually had purchased nearly eleven square miles. While living in vigorous retirement in a home he built not far from the summit, Dr. Davidson had engaged in several dynamic mountain enterprises including the engineering of a hydroelectric facility, which continues to power mountain operations and contributes to the monks’ self-sufficiency.

Initially, an unused ski lodge containing central rooms, kitchen facilities, and many suites under its twelve gables was used as a temporary Carthusian charterhouse. Cubicles designed for transient skiers became hermitages for the monks.

During the 1960s, Davidson began transferring land, finally totalling seven thousand acres, to the Carthusian Order. A massive, permanent monastery of stark Rock of Ages granite was designed by Victor Christ-Janer and substantially completed by the time Davidson died on October 9, 1969. The Charterhouse of the Transfiguration officially opened in the spring of 1970, when its first and only public open house was held.

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