If you’re curious to know what a little drug money can do for you, make a trek to the Merck Forest and Farmland Center in Rupert. The center, comprising more than 3000 acres of field and forestland in the southwestern corner of the state, is a nature lover’s paradise with its hiking trails and campsites. In keeping with its mission to promote sustainable farmland and forest management, the center runs workshops on trail tending, identifying wild plants and managing small herds of livestock.
At 4,800 feet, Mount Moosilauke is the tallest of the western White Mountains. The 3.8-mile Gorge Brook trail leads to its windswept granite summit. On a clear day, the view is one of the finest in New England, a sort of old-fashioned Google Earth, where you can look down on Killington, Mt. Ellen and Mansfield, and up to Mt. Washington. The Dartmouth Outing Club keeps a big log cabin open to the public at the most popular trailhead, located at the end of Ravine Road.
Woodstock is a classic 18th-century New England town — minus the avaricious loggers. George Perkins Marsh, a noted naturalist and statesman, was one of the first to see the error of those ways. He set aside 500 acres of conserved forestland that is now the Marsh-Billings-Rockefeller National Historical Park. More than 20 miles of carriage roads weave through the park, making it a spectacular place for a leisurely amble.
Rain or shine, VINS is a fascinating place to connect with the natural world. Check in on rehabilitating raptors, see how falcons hunt their prey or explore any of the nature trails around the perimeter of the facility. Just off Route 4 in Quechee, it’s an easy, and educational, walk on wild side.
There’s no rest for the wannabe Olympian here. Once the snow melts, the cross-country skis are replaced with skulls. Boaters come from all over to ply the waters of Big and Little Hosmer lakes at the first-ever rowing camp in North America. They work with world-class coaches, eat good food and take classes in related disciplines such as yoga. Runners, too, flock to Craftsbury to improve their technique and hang with other hoofers. The vast network of trails, groomed for marathon cross-country skiing, are just as inspiring in the summer.
Vermont boasts plenty of pretty panoramas. But the state’s most dramatic landscape is the view of Lake Willoughby from atop Mt. Pisgah. When a glacier came through the area 12,000 year ago, it cut through the granite like a knife, leaving sheer cliffs on each side of the deepest lake in Vermont — Willoughby is 312 feet deep in some places. From above, it looks like shimmering blue stone — more like a Norwegian fjord than a Vermont watering hole. To catch the South Trail up Pisgah, follow Route 5A to the south end of the lake — near the nudie beach.
Smugglers' Notch resort rocks on, with a new summer emphasis on climbing. The ski area is offering weekly rock-climbing socials and family climbing-adventure days. Hard-core types will be more interested in via ferrata — Italian for “iron way” — a new adventure sport that combines climbing, hiking and high-ropes adventure. “Safely traverse local gorges,” the description promises. “Scale huge boulders.” Too ambitious? Smuggs also offers Segway excursions on those self-balancing scooter contraptions. Amazing, there’s an all-terrain “extreme” tour that goes for the glades.
Hiking, swimming and picnicking are popular at this South Burlington municipal park. Please, folks, no bikes on the trails.
This famed 270-mile footpath travels the entire length of Vermont, from Massachusetts to the Canadian border. The Green Mountain Club, which maintains the trail, lists 175 miles of side trails, and nearly 70 primitive shelters. Hike the whole thing, or just a few choice stretches.
The four-hour hike is considered “advanced” by the Green Mountain Club. The reward — on a clear day — is stunning views of the Green and White mountains. The most popular approach is from the Waterbury side, but you can also get there from Middlesex. Looking for trail mix? You’re in luck. Central Vermont is the granola capital of the world.
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