There is a reason the state of Vermont is named after its primary physical feature. Everywhere you look, it seems, the Green Mountains beckon picturesquely from the horizon, practically begging you to test your mettle on their slopes. This weeklong jaunt is custom-made for the outdoors traveler.
Start your tour in Burlington. On your first day, take a guided kayak tour of Lake Champlain, reveling in the unique vantage of the islands from the open water. (Or, if you are trained in scuba diving, opt instead for an underwater tour of the shipwrecks at the Lake Champlain Underwater Historic Preserves.)
The next day, head south down Route 7 to Middlebury, then head into the Moosalamoo Recreation Area, 20,000 acres of pristine Green Mountain wilderness that is the state’s best-kept secret. Park on Route 53 near Branbury State Park and hike the North Branch Trail two miles in to stay overnight at Moosalamoo Campground. Keep your eyes peeled for moose!
Hike back to the parking area, and then drive north along Route 17 through the breathtaking Appalachian Gap, then north along Route 100 through the Mad River Valley to Stowe (90 min.). Reacquaint yourself with civilization with a stroll through the village in preparation for a more taxing workout tomorrow.
Today, it’s up early to tackle the highest mountain in the state, hiking Mount Mansfield for a panoramic view of the mountains all around. At night, nurse sore muscles with a cocktail at one of Stowe’s many aprèsski pubs.
Give your legs a rest and your arms a workout with a paddle down the scenic Winooski River in the Lamoille Valley, chockablock with typical Vermont scenery of red barns and cows. Or for a bit more adventure, head to Green River Reservoir where you can paddle in to one of its unique wilderness campsites, accessible only by car top boat, and spend your nights listening to the calls of the loons.
Today, head into Vermont’s wild Northeast Kingdom with a drive north up Route 100, east on Route 15, east on U.S. Highway 2, and north on U.S. Highway 5 to East Burke. There, rent yourself a mountain bike and set out on the Kingdom Trails Network, 100 miles of pristine country landscape just crying out for two-wheeled exploration.
Spend another day on your bike, tackling the death-defying slopes of Burke Mountain. Or stretch your legs on a hike up Mount Hor to commune with peregrine falcons with a view over the lovely Lake Willoughby. At night, splurge on a massage in preparation for tomorrow’s trip home.
Excerpted from the Third Edition of Moon Vermont.