Soaking Up the Final Weeks of Summer in the Green Mountains
August 20, 2015
Lakes are nice, but when it’s summer in the Green Mountains, I prefer exploring the peaks.
Last week, I spent five days visiting Vermont ski areas — Smugglers’ Notch, Stowe Mountain Resort, and Bromley Mountain — for my work with All Mountain Mamas, a family travel blog run by Ski Vermont. I spent hours mountain biking, hiking trails, taking photos, and relaxing outdoors in Vermont’s higher elevations.
Living in Burlington near Lake Champlain, I often find myself gazing to the east toward the spine of Green Mountains. I’m not the most athletic person, but the mountains make me want to be a healthier, more active person.
Enjoying the Last Weeks of Summer in the Green Mountains
If you’re looking for mountains to explore this summer or fall (before the snow flies), here are a few suggestions of what to do and where to go.
I started mountain biking in the 1990s back when Kingdom Trails was first established in East Burke. Over the past 20 years, I’ve preferred quiet dirt roads over steep mountain trails. But last week, I had the pleasure of riding in a mountain bike clinic at Smugglers’ Notch. Even though I fell (twice), bruised my leg in multiple places, got caught in the rain, and thought I might pass out from exhaustion a couple of times while navigating narrow, rocky trails — I found the experience nothing short of exhilarating.
Places to try mountain biking in Vermont:
Smugglers’ Notch in Jeffersonville is home to a mountain biking school offering camps, clinics, and special sessions for all ages and abilities. At the resort, you’ll find beginner and novice mountain bike trails and some more challenging single track. Go out with a guide and ride to an open field where you’ll find the most beautiful view of Smugglers’ Notch.
Ascutney Trails in Brownsville has a network of about 30 miles of trails located at the base and western flank of Mount Ascutney, mostly on the land of the Ascutney Mountain Resort and the town forest of West Windsor. The trails are open to the public at no cost.
Kingdom Trails in East Burke has an extensive trail network and is considered one of the best in Vermont. For on-mountain riding, you can find a variety of trails on the shoulder of Burke Mountain that are designed for intermediate and advanced riders. Enjoy trails like Dead Moose Alley, Camptown, Lower J-Bar, Moose Alley, and Burnham Down.
Hiking in Vermont:
Vermont has no shortage of mountains to hike, and everyone seems to have their personal favorite. Mount Mansfield, Camels Hump and Mount Abraham are all very popular for hiking. But if you’re looking for something new, here are a few ideas:
Bromley Mountain by way of the Long Trail was my very first hike way back in 1979 when I was in fourth grade. The trail, accessible off Route 11/30 in Winhall, follows a rocky course (five miles, round trip) through a mixed northern hardwood forest to the summit of Bromley. At the top, you’ll enjoy views of Stratton Mountain, Mount Equinox, and Magic Mountain.
Hiking Vermont ski trails is a rewarding way to scale the Green Mountains. After all, hiking in Vermont isn’t just about climbing trails in deep, wooded forests. Hiking ski areas is also a rewarding way to explore the outdoors and enjoy beautiful views from the summit. Try trails at Okemo, Stowe, Stratton, Mad River Glen, and Suicide Six.
Silver Lake and Falls of Lana in Salisbury features cascading falls in the face of a cliff in the Moosalamoo National Recreation Area. With access just south of Branbury State Park, hikers will enjoy swimming holes and Silver Lake, a setting with private backcountry campsites. Along the way up the Silver Lake Trail, take note that the trail once served as access to grand hotel that was destroyed by fire in the 1940s. No ruins are present, so you would never know a hotel once stood there.
Wheeler Mountain in Sutton in Vermont’s Northeast Kingdom includes moderate hiking with winding trails, rocky cliffs, and sweeping views of Lake Willoughby and the northern mountains. On the way down, go back down White Trail, where you’ll see ruins of an old maple sugaring operation.
Driving Up Toll Roads
If you’re not feeling particularly motivated to hike or bike up a mountain, there’s always the toll road.
Mount Mansfield Toll Road in Stowe
Mount Equinox’s Skyline Drive in Manchester
Off Route 114 on the way up the mountain road
Have fun, and enjoy the view!