Summer in Vermont is short, so there’s a lot to pack in. Whether you feel like hiking, biking, swimming or catching a live performance, there are endless possibilities for soaking up Mother Nature. Here are ten ways to make the most of the outdoors in Vermont this summer.
Catch a Performance of Farm to Ballet
A celebration of agriculture and art will be showcased at Vermont farms this summer, thanks to Burlington-based dance company Farm to Ballet. The ballet takes place without the traditional staging, lights or backdrop of a typical theater-based performance. Audiences will enjoy the setting of the farm, animals, equipment, classical music, and learn more about what is involved in operating a sustainable farming operation.
Produced and choreographed by Chatch Pregger, a former professional dancer turned teacher, Farm to Ballet will be performed at Shelburne Farms, Grand View Farm in Washington, Studio Hill in Shaftsbury, Golden Well Sanctuary in New Haven, Billings Farm in Woodstock, Retreat Farm in Brattleboro, Sandiwood Farm in Wolcott, and Moonrise Farm in Essex Junction.
For more information and to purchase tickets, visit farmtoballet.org.
Climb a Vermont Fire Tower
Vermont was once home to dozens of fire towers across the state. Today, there are far fewer. Many fire towers were built by the Civilian Conservation Corps in the 1930s, and some were built even earlier.
Towers haven’t been used for fire detection for over 30 years, and the last tower shut down in the 1980s. If you’re planning a Vermont hike, several Vermont mountains, including Stratton, Okemo, Elmore and Ascutney, are home to restored fire towers or observation decks that offer panoramic views from the summit.
Take a Dip In A Vermont Swimming Hole
Vermont has no shortage of swimming holes to cool off in over the summer. Some of my favorites include Buttermilk Falls in Ludlow, a spot along Route 30 in the West River below the West Dummerston Covered Bridge, Lareau Swimming Hole along Route 100 in Waitsfield, and Bartlett Falls in Bristol. You can find a more extensive list on FindandGoSeek.net.
Dine Outdoors at an Organic Farm
In the shadow of Mount Mansfield is Valley Dream Farm, a certified organic, family-owned farm in Pleasant Valley—one of the most beautiful spots in Vermont. Farm-to-table dinners are served family-style on the barn’s rustic front porch. The dinners, which feature local chefs from the area, are open to the public between June and October. The event kicks off with a one-hour tractor ride around the farm’s fields with farm owner Anne Tisbert as your tour guide. A night at Valley Dream Farm is seeing and tasting Vermont at its finest.
Getting there: Valley Dream Farm is located at 5901 Pleasant Valley Road in Cambridge. To make a reservation, call 802-644-6598.
Bike Kingdom Trails in East Burke
If you’re planning on doing any mountain biking this summer, set your sights on Kingdom Trails. Established in 1994, Kingdom Trails offers an extensive, world-class network of mountain biking trails around Darling Hill, East Burke village, and Burke Mountain. You’ll find interconnected trails that wind through wide open fields and rugged forests.
The network’s legendary trails have names like Trillum, Tap and Die, and Kitchel. For kids and beginners, there’s also a designated area that’s easy and fun for all ages. The Village Sport Shop Trailside on Darling Hill offers rentals, gear, services, and a small bar and outdoor patio where you can cool off with a cold beer after biking. You can also find lessons and guided bike tours offered by Kingdom Experiences. After your ride, soak up the charm of East Burke by grabbing a beer at Mike’s Tiki Bar or enjoying an ice cream at RubyLee’s.
Getting there: The Kingdom Trails office is located at 478 Route 114 in East Burke. For more information, visit KingdomTrails.org or call 802-626-0737.
Explore the Natural Beauty of the Moosalamoo Region
The Moosalamoo National Recreation Area is a 16,000-acre paradise between Ripton, Goshen, and Lake Dunmore. This beautiful area includes more than 70 miles of well-maintained trails that are perfect for hiking, swimming, and biking. A little quieter than some of Vermont’s more popular hiking and mountain biking areas, Moosalamoo features trails with expansive views, secluded lakes, waterfalls, mountain vistas, as well as hardwood and softwood forests.
The region includes the Robert Frost Interpretive Trail to the north in Ripton, Silver Lake and the Sugar Hill Reservoir, Moosalamoo Campground, Branbury State Park, and the Catamount Trail.
For more information, visit moosalamoo.org.
Pedal Along Lake Champlain
The 14-mile Island Line Trail hugs the shore of Lake Champlain in Burlington and extends past neighborhoods and parks in Colchester before reaching the Colchester Causeway. Built in 1900 atop huge marble boulders, the narrow, 2.5-mile Causeway is a raised rail bed that crosses Lake Champlain, offering stunning views of the Green Mountains and Adirondacks. During your walk or ride, you’ll often find people fishing, swimming and boating on both sides of the Causeway. Another reason to bike the trail is to ride the Bike Ferry, which transports passengers and their bikes across a 200-foot gap in the Causeway near the southern tip of South Hero. For the full experience, start at Oakledge Park in Burlington and head north all the way to the Champlain Islands.
Getting there: From Burlington, take Route 7/Shelburne Road to Flynn Avenue in Burlington. Follow Flynn Avenue to the end, which is the entrance to Oakledge Park. Bike rentals are available at Local Motion.
Hike Mount Tom in Woodstock
Overlooking the scenic town of Woodstock is Mount Tom, a 1,250-foot summit that is perfect for an easy hike. The Marsh-Billings-Rockefeller National Historic Park encompasses more than 500 acres on the back side of Mount Tom and includes 30 miles of walkable paths that were once carriage roads. Once you’re at the top, enjoy gorgeous views to the east and west. If you are looking for a place to take your family for a hike, Mount Tom is ideal for younger kids but rewarding enough for adults.
Getting there: Park at Billings Farm & Museum on Route 12 and walk over to the trail entrance at the Marsh-Billings-Rockefeller National Historic Park. You can also park along River Street in front of the cemetery and take the trail to the right.
Head to The Notch in Stowe
The Notch along Route 108 between Stowe and Smugglers’ Notch is open to traffic between May and October. The Notch has an otherworldly feel with giant boulders and thousand-foot cliffs. In the summer, thousands of visitors descend upon The Notch to hike, rock climb and camp. One of the best parts of The Notch in the summer is the hike to Sterling Pond, which is known as the highest trout pond in the state.
Getting there: From Interstate 89, take Exit 10 and travel 10 miles north to Stowe. At the intersection of Routes 100 and 108, take a left on Route 108 and drive past Stowe Mountain Resort before reaching parking for The Notch. Entrance to the Sterling Pond trail is across from the Information Booth.
Go Camping at Silver Lake State Park in Barnard
Silver Lake State Park is set on a gorgeous lake in the tiny town of Barnard. The impeccably maintained park is wonderful for camping, and scenic Silver Lake is ideal for kayaking and swimming. If you’re camping and the weather isn’t ideal, the region offers plenty of fun activities to let you make the most of your getaway. Nearby attractions include Billings Farm and Museum, Vermont Institute of Natural Science, and the Montshire Museum of Science. While you’re there, the nearby Barnard General Store is a nice spot for coffee, an ice cream or lunch.
Getting there: Silver Lake State Park is located off Route 12 in Barnard, about 10 miles north of Woodstock. For reservations, visit vtstateparks.com.
What are you looking forward to this summer?
-Main photo courtesy of Farm to Ballet.