Vermont Vacations and the
Seven Wonders of the
Green Mountain State
By Cliff Calderwood
It matters not in which season you take Vermont vacations, you’ll see these
seven scenic wonders and fall in love with the Green Mountain state. And just
in case you mistakenly think there are only seven wonders – think again. Each
of these is a vacation in itself, full of the wonders of adventure, breathtaking
views, wildlife, and fine dining and lodging.
Vermont beckons the child in all of us… the child that relishes the excitement
of discovery and wonder of everything different. Somewhere, the fast pace of
life left that child behind. But it never really left us completely, and Vermont
has a way of letting people rediscover it – in their own unhurried way.
Rediscover the feeling of your childhood as you tour these seven wonders of
Vermont vacations with me…
GREEN MOUNTAIN NATIONAL FOREST
The Green Mountain National Forest is 400,000 acres stretching across two-
thirds of the length of Vermont from the Massachusetts border in the south, to
Starksboro in the north.
The Forest comprises six wilderness areas offering camping and 900 miles of
trails, and a backcountry environment for all ages. Campgrounds are available
on a first-come basis during the summer season.
Popular destinations in the Forest include the Robert Frost Trail near Ripton,
Texas Falls Recreation area close to Hancock, the Moosalamoo area near
Brandon, and Lake Dunmore and Brandbury State Park.
The terrain in the Forest ranges from rugged and exposed summits to the
secluded beauty of hollows. Forest maps are a necessary additional and can be
downloaded or ordered from the USDA Forest Service web site, or purchased
from Ranger’s Offices scattered throughout the Forest area.
Located in central Vermont near the town of Woodstock, Quechee Gorge is a
geological wonder. Nicknamed Vermont’s Grand Canyon, the gorge was
carved when the last glacier covering New England receded about 12,000 years
ago. Today the Ottauguechee River flows through the gorge and is spanned by
the converted Woodstock Railroad Bridge, which offers a marvelous
photogenic vantage point for visitors.
A parking lot just west of the bridge is the entrance to the park, which offers
trails down to the gorge and wooded nature walks. The area was once a
thriving mill town, and in addition to wonderful walking trails and wildlife
sanctuary, and a raptor center, contains the Quechee Gorge Village attraction.
The village includes an Antique Mall, which is the largest and busiest in the
state of Vermont.
SCENIC ROUTE 100 FROM KILLINGTON TO WATERBURY
Vermont boasts many scenic drives but none more scenic than the portion of
Route 100 from Killington to Waitsfield. The route borders the Green
Mountain National Forest and meanders through mountain valleys, rivers,
streams, waterfalls, and small farming villages. Along this route you’ll move
from open farmland to steep mountain cliffs either side of a winding narrow
road, and then eventually back to open fields.
The drive passes two noteworthy waterfalls: Texas Falls and Moss Glen Falls.
Texas Falls is a short side trip on Route 125 north of Hancock and an easy hike
from the parking area. Moss Glen Falls is on Route 100 just north of Granville
and on the left and easy to miss - it’s the larger of the two waterfalls.
The latter part of the journey to Waterbury offers marvelous views of the
distant northern ranges of the Green Mountains.
Nestled between two mountain ranges is perhaps the most picturesque town
in New England – Stowe. The draw and attraction for many to Stowe is Mount
Mansfield, and the mountain dominates the landscape.
Stowe and the mountain are joined at the hip, and support the skiers in winter,
and the hikers and scenic dwellers in summer and fall. While shopping,
lodging, and dining are varied and first-class in the town, nature takes full
honors over spending money.
After the snow melts, families have an endless assortment of things to do on
their Vermont vacations, including swimming, hiking, horseback riding,
canoeing, kayaking, and scenic driving tours. Mount Mansfield itself provides
hiking trails for the fit and energetic, or you can take in amazing views from
your own car as you drive to the summit ridge on the historic toll road.
After a day in Stowe you’ll understand why Maria Von Trapp, on whose life
the movie Sound of Music was based, chose Stowe to build her Trapp Family
Lodge on the slope of the mountain.
LAKE CHAMPLAIN AND ISLANDS
Lake Champlain seems like a lost cousin of the Great lakes. Long and deep,
but with an average width of only 12 miles, its northern area is dotted with a
magnificent string of Islands. Routes 2 and 78 connect the larger ones together
and to the Vermont mainland. One of the last “undiscovered” treasures of New
England, the Lake Champlain Islands offer magnificent vistas of Vermont’s
Green Mountains to the east, and New York’s Adirondacks to the west.
The larger islands are made up of the towns of South Hero, Grand Isle, North
Hero, Isle La Motte, and Alburg, and highly popular for Vermont vacations.
There are seven state parks located on the Lake Champlain Islands, and they
offer great bicycle trails, the world’s oldest reef where corals appear, beaches
for swimming, and fishing and boating excursions. This is a place to relax and
unwind, and enjoy island life for a day… or a week.
Along the shore of Lake Champlain is the bustling city of Burlington,
Sherburne Museum and Farm, and for the adventurous, old shipwrecks
offering unique diving experiences.
The Northeast Kingdom in Vermont is a vast 1.3 million acres of mostly
wilderness land, which includes public forests, parks, lakes, ponds, rivers and
streams. This is an area where little has changed since the glaciers left, and the
adventurous will find plenty of opportunity to live out their dream Vermont
The Northeast Kingdom comprises the three counties of Caledonia, Essex, and
Orleans, and named supposedly by a former senator who felt the area so
spectacular it should be a kingdom. But the name does feel just, as the air
seems fresher, the lakes cleaner, and skies bluer.
Essex County includes the magnificent Kingdom Forest and Conte National
Wildlife Refuge. Stunning Lake Memphremagog in Orleans County is shared
with Canada, and Caledonia County boasts Willoughby and Groton State
Forest, and Burke Mountain.
Nature shares the Northeast Kingdom with people, and this is an area where
wildlife and scenery is king, and folks gladly take a back seat. Load up your
camping stuff and supplies in St. Johnsbury, check your gas level, and be
prepared for an exhilarating experience!
No mention of Vermont wonders can bypass a reference to arguably the finest
collection of covered bridges in the United States. If you include the bridges
shared with New Hampshire and spanning the Connecticut River, the state has
106, which is more than any other New England state. Most bridges are
accessible to the public, in excellent condition, and a joy to discover and
It’s said by enthusiasts half the fun is in finding a Covered Bridge. Many are
tucked away in villages and areas that take some effort to reach, yet provide
such a rich and rewarding experience once uncovered.
These bridges were designed as a functional solution to settlement challenges
presented by Vermont’s vast array of rivers and streams. The craftsmen who
designed these monuments had no idea they were building a legacy now
enjoyed by visitors from all over the world.
Wherever you are in the state you’re not far from a Vermont covered bridge.
Vermont is the second largest state in New England and this brief journey has
been but an introduction to an area in the U.S. where not only the people, but
nature, does things just a little differently - And that makes all the difference
for Vermont vacations.
For more details on these and other destinations on Vermont Vacations and to
pick up your free vacation reports go to Cliff's New England Vacations site at:
Click here for information on Vermont Inns & Bed & Breakfasts
|Vermont Vacation and the
Seven Wonders of the
Green Mountain State
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