Tucked away in the Green Mountain National Forest is an area that all at once feels remote and accessible, rugged and gentle.
Moosalamoo National Recreation Area is a 16,000-acre paradise that extends from the western slopes of the Green Mountains through Ripton and Goshen to Lake Dunmore. The area includes more than 70 miles of well-maintained trails that are perfect for hiking, biking, cross-country skiing, and snowshoeing. The region is also excellent for camping, swimming, boating, fishing, and birding.
Quieter than some of Vermont’s more well-traversed hiking and mountain biking areas, Moosalamoo features trails with expansive views, secluded lakes, waterfalls, mountain vistas, as well as hardwood and softwood forests.
Dave, Phoebe, and I took a Mother’s Day drive from Burlington to Addison County.
After traveling south on Route 7 and then east toward Lake Dunmore, we began to climb into the mountains. We found ourselves on a dirt road with no cell service and not much else around (I reassured Dave I knew exactly where we were going). We eventually turned on Forest Road 32 in Goshen – located in the heart of Moosalamoo — parked our Volkswagon, and explored the outdoors.
Moosalamoo is located primarily in southeastern Addison County, bordered to the north by Route 125 (Middlebury Gap) and the south by Route 73 (Brandon Gap). It’s named after the 2,643-foot Mount Moosalamoo that overlooks Lake Dunmore.
Back in 2007, the federal New England Wilderness Act designated the Moosalamoo region as a National Recreation Area, joining 44 other federal National Recreation Areas nationwide. More mountain bikers have visited Moosalamoo over the past decade, but the Moosalamoo area continues to be a place that is relatively unknown by Vermonters.
A challenge has been the lack of consistent funding to promote Moosalamoo and further upgrade its trails and amenities. For a time, the National Recreation Area designation helped obtain federal funds to support trail work, mapping and signs. But many federal agencies, including the U.S. Forest Service, have experienced budget cuts over the years.
Still, Moosalamoo should not be missed. 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.
“We probably have more trails and (camping) sites than in any comparable area within the Green Mountain National Forest,” says Moosalamoo Association President Bruce Acciavatti. “It’s beautiful, there are many recreational opportunities, and it’s close by. It’s world class.”
This is a place for outdoor enthusiasts — of all levels — to enjoy year round. If you’re looking for a weekend getaway but don’t want to camp (or it’s winter), nearby inns include the Blueberry Hill Inn in Goshen, The Lilac Inn in Brandon, and The Chipman Inn in Ripton.
Or, do what we did — take a day trip, enjoy some trails, and spend a couple of hours getting to know this incredible place.
**If You Go: Moosalamoo National Recreational Area