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v v v v v v  LEAF PEEPING IN VERMONT  v v v v v

 

 

v  Introduction to Vermont

 

FOLIAGE WEBSITES

·          Foliage Hotline  tel.   (802) 828-3239

·          Foliage-Vermont.com – Excellent foliage forum, recommended drives and bicycle routes, interactive foliage predictor

·          Vermont Life Magazine.com – Foliage report with recommended drives for the upcoming week, lots of recommended drives with maps, interactive foliage predictor

·          Link Vermont.com – Foliage report, recommended drives with maps

·          Foliage Forum -  Scenes of Vermont forums discussing current foliage status

·          Vermont Foliage Photography Forum – Recommendations for best spots to photograph foliage

·          Visit New England.com – Link to Weather.com foliage report, Vermont tourism info

·          Foliage Network.com - Foliage spotters and reports, recommended sights and things to do

·          US Dept of Agriculture Forest Service – foliage tracking and report

 

TRAVEL WEBSITES

·          Vermont Farms  

·          Vermont Orchards

·          Vermont Maple Syrup Farms

·          Vermont Attractions

·          Vermont Travel Articles

·          Vermont Green Mountains

·          Vermont Towns

 

Despite its nickname as the Green Mountain State, Vermont could just as easily be known as the foliage state. Simply get off of the Interstate and travel the state roads, back roads and mountain roads. Don’t be afraid to get lost -- it’s a small state -- keep your map handy, and your eyes peeled. You are going to encounter genuinely breathtaking vistas and panoramas. Mountain top views of reds, oranges and yellows virtually vibrate among the forests of evergreens. Vermont boasts 5.5 million acres of forested land. Enjoy them all.  Keep in mind that early morning and late afternoon light puts the perfect slant on the foliage for photographing – and viewing for that matter – the full intensity of the colorful leaves. Leaves change color based on a variety of factors including light level, temperature, soil conditions and more. Here in Vermont, the color starts in northern regions and at higher elevations, progressing southward and downward into the valleys. The colors start to peak in mid-September in the Green and White mountains of Vermont and New Hampshire, and then bleed down into the Berkshires of Massachusetts.

It may be hard to believe, but mountainous Vermont has north-south and east west highways that provide a grid-like pattern. North and south, along Vermont’s eastern border formed by the Connecticut River are Interstate 91 paralleled by state Route 5. Through the center of the state, running though the higher elevations of Vermont is Route 100. This rises and falls, and twists and turns through numerous small towns and hamlets. And on the western side of the state Route 7 can take you from Massachusetts to Canada. This favorite road passes through Bennington, Manchester, Rutland, Middlebury and Burlington.

Traversing Vermont on the east-west axis is, in the south, Route 9 from Brattleboro to Bennington. Mid-state is Route 4, that takes you from White River Junction on the Connecticut River, up the mountains to Killington, then to Rutland, and Fair Haven on the New York border. Route 2 is the farthest north main east-west road. From St. Johnsbury in the east it will take you to Vermont’s capital, Montpelier. From there the road parallels I-89 to Burlington.

 

v Top Recommended Drives

1.      Central  Route 7 North, from Rutland to Middlebury is a 37-mile stretch of color and tranquility. The next 35 miles, from Middlebury to Burlington, are equally stunning. Route 100 from Shelburne Center to Middlesex covers 65 miles of pure Vermont scenery.
Rutland - Middlebury

2.      Northern  The ride from Burlington to the Canadian border is about 45 miles. All of it is worth seeing.  Vermont isn’t usually associated with islands but the northwest corner of the state features South Hero and North Hero islands beautifully situated in Lake Champlain. Take either I-89 or Route 2 north out of Burlington. (If on I-89 take Exit 17 to get onto Route 2). Traveling north and west you’ll cross the lake onto South Hero Island. Time to explore without fear of getting lost. Route 2 continues on to North Hero and Allsburg. After Allsburg Center turn right onto Route 78 this will bring you back south to Swanton where you can pick up either Route 7 or I-89 that will take you south back to Burlington.  Vermont Route 100 is full of pleasing vistas from south to north. Also especially enjoyable are the 80-mile jaunt between Montpelier and Newport, and Route 114 between St. Johnsbury and Norton, about 60 miles.
Burlington - Montpelier - St. Johnsbury

3.      Southern  Ride along the west side of Green Mountain National Forest. Start on Route 7 in Bennington. Traveling north, pick up route 7A (or stay on 7) to Manchester Center, a drive of about 25 miles. Route 9 is also a pleasant drive that traverses the southern part of the Green Mountain state from Brattleboro in the east, through Wilmington, to Bennington on the western border, where Vermont meets New York. The drive is approximately 40 tranquil miles across the southern section of Green Mountain National forest.
Bennington - Brattleboro - Manchester

 

v Frommer’s The Best Places to See Fall Foliage

Route 100: Winding the length of Vermont from Readsboro to Newport, Route 100 is the major north-south route through the center of the Green Mountains, yet it's surprisingly undeveloped for most of its length. It can be crowded along the southern stretches on autumn weekends, but head further north and you'll leave the crowds behind.

I-91: An interstate? Don't scoff. If you like your foliage viewing big and fast, cruise I-91 from White River Junction to Newport. You'll be overwhelmed with gorgeous terrain, from the Connecticut River Valley to the rolling hills of the Northeast Kingdom. The traffic isn't as bad as on state roads, either.

 

v Frommer’s The Best Moderately Priced Places to Stay

Inn at the Mad River Barn (Waitsfield, Vermont; tel. 800/631-0466 or 802/496-3310): It takes a few minutes to adapt to the spartan rooms and no-frills accommodations, but you'll soon discover that the real action takes place in the living room and dining room, where skiers relax and chat after a day on the slopes and share heaping helpings at mealtime. Rooms with breakfast are $110.

 

v Frommer’s The Best Small Towns and Villages

Grafton: Just a few decades ago, Grafton was a down-at-the-heels mountain town slowly being reclaimed by termites and the elements. A wealthy family took the town on as a pet project, lovingly restoring it to the way it once was -- even burying electric lines to reclaim the landscape. It doesn't feel like a living history museum; it just feels right.

Woodstock: Woodstock has a stunning village green, a whole range of 19th-century homes, woodland walks just out of town, and a settled, old-money air. This is a good place to explore by foot or bike, or to just sit on a porch and watch summer unfold.

Montpelier: This is the way all state capitals should be -- slow-paced, small enough that you can walk everywhere, and featuring lots of shops that sell wrenches and strapping tape. Montpelier also shows a more sophisticated edge, with its culinary institute, a theater showing art-house films, and several fine book shops; but at heart it's a small town, where you just might run into the governor buying duct tape at the corner store.

 

v Frommer’s Vermont in 6 Days

You can get a large taste of Vermont in under a week. This trip involves about 2 or 3 hours of driving daily (that's if you don't dally, which you should). Consider it a scouting trip of places to come back and explore in more depth:

Day 1 Arrive in Burlington in northern Vermont and check in to your room. Rent bikes or in-line skates and spend the remainder of the day cruising the city's waterfront pathway. You still may have time to explore Church St. Marketplace and the university campus before selecting from one of Burlington's excellent, midpriced restaurants.

·          Burlington – see Battery Park,  Church Street Marketplace and dining along Church Street, take an Excursion Cruise, tour Teddy Bear Factory, see new aquarium,

·          Hiking in the Area

1.      Mount Mansfield Trailhead near Underhill State Park (There are four trails to the summit ridge of Mt. Mansfield. Park at the ranger station and walk up the road. The trails begin branching off shortly above the group camp area. The Sunset Ridge trail, 3 miles to the summit, is the most popular.)

2.      Camel's Hump State Park, Vermont (one hiker reported taking the Monroe Trail for 6.8 miles round-trip in 2.5 hours, awesome views of Adirondacks, Lake Champlain, and Green Mountains on a clear day)

Day 2 Depart southward in the morning to Shelburne and spend most of the day exploring the remarkable Shelburne Museum. Afterwards, drive south to the classic town of Middlebury and spend the night. If time permits, visit the splendid horses at the Morgan Horse Farm, operated by the University of Vermont, or explore the campus and art museum at Middlebury College.

·          Shelburne – see Shelburne Museum, tour Shelburne Farms, take Charlotte-Essex Ferry to Essex, New York (open year-round)

·          Middlebury – see Congregational Church (located on common, 27 N Pleasant Street, Middleburry, VT 05753), see Old Stone Row (located off Rte 30 Middlebury College), Recommended Restaurant - Bistro Sauce (chef from NECI), Recommended Inn – Blueberry Hill Inn (Brandon, VT)

Day 3 Continue south on Route 7 with a detour to Proctor, north of Rutland, to view the Vermont Marble Exhibit. Head east on Route 4 to near the New York border, get out a map, and plot a back-roads ramble from here to Dorset and Manchester, enjoying the small towns and scenic vistas. Overnight in Manchester, Dorset, or Arlington. Leave time for outlet shopping in Manchester.

·          TIP:  The areas around Manchester and Bennington allow for a minimum of one full day by themselves.

·          Manchester – beautiful town BUT  pricey, touristy, and very busy due to outlets here, see Hildene Home (was Robert Todd Lincoln's home and stayed in the Licoln family for many years)

·          Arlington – see Candle Wood Village (316 Old Mill Road, East Arlington, VT 05252), see Norman Rockwell Exhibition (open 9am to 5pm, $1 admission, call 802-375-6423 for directions), Arlington was Rockwell's home back in the 1940s and 1950s (many of the townspeople of the time were models for his Saturday Evening Post covers, as well as his famous "Four Freedoms" paintings) and his home and studio were in West Arlington (across the covered bridge from highway 313 - just ask locally), the white steepled church and village green and frequently photographed to represent Vermont, B&B Recommendation: is Shenandoah Farm (4862 RT 313, Arlington, VT 05250, Phone 802-375-6372, tell them RG Weinert recommended it)

·          Bennington – see historic downtown (beautiful architecture, historic walking tours, quaint shops and galleries, many privately owned restaurants, ands own brew pub), see Bennington Battle Monument (take the elevator to the top of 306 ft structure where can see Vermont, Massachusetts & New York), Long Trail passes through here (hike a portion of the Appalachian/ Long Trail in the Green Mountains just minutes from Downtown Bennington), hike up to the White Rocks (around Bennington, a wonderful view of Bennington, west into New York and south into Mass, allow an hour and a half up then an hour and 10 minutes down), see Old First Church and burying ground (Robert Frost buried here), see three covered bridges in North Bennington, see Old Bennington (has beautiful colonial homes, located 1 mile west of Bennington),  see Camelot Village (with its Vermont craft center, country store, antique shop and adjacent North River Winery tasting room), Inn Recommendations: Molly Stark Inn (tell Reed "Roy and Paula sent us" in Bennington) or SinClair Inn (in Jerico), one resident said colors here are peaked out Columbus Day weekend,

·          Mount Equinox Road -  the Mount Equinox Skyline Drive is the longest privately owned paved toll road in the USA (5.2 miles) with an elevation increase of 3,235 ft., ($9 for two of us – see MSN Pictorial Tour Picture #2)

Day 4 Head east into the Green Mountains. Your destination is the village of Grafton. Wander this lovingly preserved town, and buy some cheese at the local cheese factory before heading northward toward the town of Woodstock. (Break out those maps for the back roads.) Overnight in Woodstock.

·          Grafton – is a picturesque pre-revolutionary town restored by Windham Foundation, see the Old Tavern at Grafton, Recommended Inn: The Inn at Weathersfield (in Springfield)

·          Woodstock – A national magazine named Woodstock "The Prettiest Small Town in America" (Rockefeller money poured into town), see covered bridge (on Mountain Avenue in center of village), has walking tours available, visit Cloud land Farm  (open year ‘round on most days from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m., 1101 Cloudland Rd., North Pomfret, VT), visit Sugarbush Farms (591 Sugarbush Farm Road, Woodstock, VT 05091), was settled in 1765, the town boasts six covered bridges and the Marsh-Billings-Rockefeller National Historical Park where guided walks in

·           October-in the shade of sugar maples and 400-year-old hemlocks-lend views (see MSN pictorial view Picture #13), Recommended Inn: any on the common

·          Quechee - enter the village by crossing a covered bridge immediately below cascading white water (located off of Rte 4), see Quechee Gorge (Vermont’s mile long chasm, $3 admission, closes Oct. 15, You can park and view it from the bridge spanning the gorge... or, you can take a foot trail down to the base of the gorge), see Simon Peirce glass blowing (can watch the artists hand-blowing the glass which is sold full and off-price [not signed, which is the trademark for Simon Peirce] and they have a great restaurant and a deck outside where you can overlook the river below), has antique shops out near I-89

·          Newfane – see Scott covered bridge (located 5 miles north via Hwy 30 over West River in Townshend, is longest single span bridge at 276 ft, King post type trusses), Fishing in West River

·          Weston – picturesque village on National Registrar of Historic Places, town green with bandstand, see Vermont Country Store, Weston Priory (mountain top Benedictine Abby/Priory hidden away on a mountainside, have services open to the public, is also a beautiful pond for quietly sitting and hiking trails for the more active), Recommended Inn: St. Joseph's Dwelling Place

·          Bellow Falls – see Native American Petroglyphs (along riverbanks near Vilas Bridge)

·          White River Junction – see Windsor Covered Bridge,

Day 5 After spending the morning exploring Woodstock (don't miss the Raptor Center and the Billings Farm Museum), head east on Route 4 with a detour to Plymouth to visit the Calvin Coolidge State Historic Site. Continue through Killington onward up scenic Route 100 to the Mad River Valley. Overnight in Warren or Waitsfield. If time permits, rent a bike or take a tour on Icelandic ponies.

Day 6 Spend the day working your way back to Burlington. Options include a detour to the lovely capital city of Montpelier and the immense working quarries in Barre; a side trip to the ski resort town of Stowe (Trapp Family Lodge), which is still appealing even in summer; or a tour of the Ben & Jerry's factory in Waterbury.

·          Stowe – see Mount Mansfield (state forest, auto road, or can take gondola to top), Smuggler’s Notch, Stowe Mountain Auto Road, visit Trapp Family Lodge,

·          Waterbury – take Ben & Jerry's factory tour (about ½ hour, free ice cream afterwards), see Camel’s Hump Mountain, visit Cold Hollow Cider Mill (located at 3600 Waterbury-Stowe Road, (Route 100), Waterbury Center, VT 05677)

Day 7  *Another itinerary suggests going on over to Franconia Notch in New Hampshire the next day, stopping there, and then going on the Kancamagus Scenic Byway to North Conway.

Additional Tips:

·          Burlington Drive:  Take I-89 east  to either Hinesburg Road (Rte 116) or St George Road (Rte 2A) south. Once at Hinesburg village, continue driving south on route 116 until you come to route 17 east in Starksboro. Drive route 17 east to Waitsfield. Drive carefully. I call this road " Little Switzerland" because of all of the switchbacks and tight curves. It's a great ride with good colors and views. At the end of route 17 in Waitsfield, turn right on route 100 south. Drive that to route 125 west in Hancock.

·          Bennington Drive:   From Manchester, go east on routes 11/30 towards Bromley Mt. Turn right on 30 or continue east to 100. The shorter trip would be 100 to Wilmington, Rt. 9 west to Bennington to Rt. 7 north to Manchester. If you have some extra time, take Rt.30 to Brattleboro and then Rt.9 west. On a nice day you'll have the opportunity to see the 100 view from Hogback Mt.(Rt.9 west of Brattleboro).   *Riverview Cafe ( chef from NECI - specialty is Vermont Chicken with creamy mushroom sauce)

·          Bennington Drive:  From Bennington go north on 7 or 7a to Manchester - if you have time there is a wonderful drive up Mt. Equinox. From Manchester take rt. 11(I think - my map is not too clear) toward Londonderry - on the way you will pass Mt. Bromley.  From Londonderry rte. 100 will take you to Weston. Continue on 100 through Ludlow - it will take you past some lovely lakes on your way to Plymouth, the birthplace and home of Pres. Calvin Coolidge - it's interesting to see his very humble beginnings. 100a hooks into US4, which takes you into Woodstock.

·          Returning to Albany from Southern Vermont - If you have time and are returning by Albany, I would suggest hooking up with 103 North from Bellows Falls to Ludlow and taking 100 south. Route 100 is a great road in the Vermont Green Mountains. Route 7 is good too, but I like 7 better.

·          2006 Report Oct. 11th Week Recommended Drives: The foliage change is expected to emerge fully during the coming week (after Oct. 11, 2006) in the lower elevation valleys, especially in the southern reaches of the Connecticut River Valley, the broad Lake Champlain Valley and along the shores of Lake Champlain. It is a perfect time to explore the recently designated Connecticut River Byway, where Rte. 5 closely follows the western bank of the river from the Massachusetts line just below Brattleboro to Canaan near the Canadian border.  Rtes. 103 and 11, along with roads following the White, Ottauquechee and Black rivers, will have fine displays of maples. On the western side of Vermont Rtes. 7, 30, 22 and 22A are suggested gateways to New England’s West Coast, where full color is expected during the coming week.

·          2006 Report Oct. 18th Week Recommended Drives:  The foliage is at peak or slightly past in the southern reaches of the Connecticut River Valley, the broad Lake Champlain Valley and along the shores of Lake Champlain (written Oct. 18, 2006). On the western side of central Vermont amber corn fields, dark green meadows and multi-colored marsh grasses contrast pleasantly with the changing foliage. Suggested are: Rte.73 west from the Brandon Gap to Brandon; Rte. 53 around Lake Dunmore to Salisbury and Whiting; Rte. 30 north to Cornwall, or south along Lake Bomoseen to Poultney and Manchester; and Rte. 22A between Addison and Fair Haven. The big maples along Rte. 74 from Shoreham to the Champlain ferry are at peak.  Also suggested are Rte. 7 from Middlebury south to Rte. 3 in Pittsford, Rte. 3 through Proctor to West Rutland, and Rte. 4 west to Fair Haven.  Brilliant colors are persisting in the lower elevations near Lake Champlain from the greater Burlington area north to Swanton with good viewing from I-89, Rte. 2 and Rte. 7. On the east side of the state the lower elevation valleys along the Connecticut River and its tributaries remain colorful.  Suggested are Rtes. 5, 30, 103, and 44 as well as any town roads from Brattleboro north to Springfield.

   

v Information about the cities we visited

Vermont Moto: Freedom and Unity / Vermont Nickname: Green Mountain State

Vermont was the last New England state to be settled (believed to be around 1724). Typically thought of as a farm state with dairy products leading, followed by sheep, maple sugar and syrup (largest amount of maple syrup is produced in Vermont), and apples. Vermont leads the nation in marble and granite mining.  We essentially drove around Northwestern Vermont (including the Lake Champlain Islands, Burlington, and Stowe), through the Northeast Kingdom (passed through St. Johnsbury), and Southern Vermont (including Brattleboro, Newfane, Townshend, Weston, and Woodstock).

·          North Hero – cutest island of the Lake Champlain Islands.  It is one of three islands (along with La Motte and South Hero) attached to the Alburg peninsula through bridges and by a causeway to Vermont via Hwy 2.  Together they comprise the Grand Isle Country. We had views of NY’s Adirondacks and VT’s Green Mountains

·          Burlingtonvermont’s largest city, walk along the waterfront of Lake Champlain, shopping & dining on Church Street Marketplace

·          Waterbury – we passed by Ben and Jerry’s Ice Cream factory but we did stop at the Cold Hollow Cider Mill to sample some cider and buy some jelly

·          Stowe – we didn’t get to stop at Vermont’s highest peak, Mount Mansfield (4,393 ft), via the Stowe Mountain Auto Road or take the alpine slide, stayed at the best place ever! The Green Mountain Inn in a deluxe room with a fireplace and Jacuzzi, and had dinner at the Trapp Family Lodge which was fantastic

·          Putney – We stopped in Putney on a way through Brattleboro. It’s nine miles upriver from Brattleboro with a small population of 2,600. We stopped at Harlow’s Sugar House to purchase some syrup and apple jelly.  It’s a working cider mill and sugarhouase, as well as seasonal apple and berry picking. They process everything in house and only sell their products at this location – not to mention they’ been approached by popular names such as Rachel Ray. The owner purchased the sugarshouse 25 years ago and has been the single owner since. We also drove by Santa’s

·          Brattleboro – We drove through Brattleboro on our way to the Hundred Mile View lookout.  However, the town is apparently known for its political and cultrally active citizens.

·          Grafton – small town of house and churches from around 1800, the town was revived by the Windham Foundation

·          Ludlow

·          Weston – Serene village listed on the National Register of Historic Places where we stopped at the Vermont Country Store

·          Woodstock – awesome little town, we took photos of the Scott’s ? Covered Bridge (was an iron bridge that crossed the Ottauquechee River here but replaced by this covered bridge in 1968), we walked along, beautiful farm land area here including Billings Farm and the Cloudland Farm we drove up to, we walked around the Historic District,

·          White River Junction – stopped here to look at the Quechee Gorge which is referred to as Vermont’s “Little Grand Canyon” (the mile-long chasm that the Ottauquechee River carved out)

 

v Information

These are places that we would like to revisit on a future trip or places we didn’t get to see and would like to next time.

·          Bennington – see everything mentioned above. We didn’t visit this town on this trip.

·          Woodstock – see everything again. My favorite town.

·          Arlington - see everything mentioned above. We didn’t visit this town on this trip.

·          Brookfield – see the floating bridge

·          Stowe – ride the gondola up Mt. Mansfield, walk the Recreation Path, take Hwy 108 through Smugglers Notch (open summer only)

·          Shelburne – see the Shelburne Museum,  the Ticonderoga (a 200-ft sidewheel steamboat), and Shelburne Farms

·          MontpellierNew England Culinary Institute

·          Middlebury – taking scenic Route 125 west of Route 100

·          Brattleboro – see the Vermont Center for Photography (802-251-6051)

·          Putney – Harlow’s Sugar House and the Green Mountain Spinnery

·          Activity: Skiing – Vermont has 26 alpine ski areas, 13 of which are located on Route 100.  The major resorts are Stowe, Jay Peak, Sugarbush, Killington, Okemo, Mt. Snow, and Stratton.

·          Other States – Connecticut, Maine, Massachusetts (see Revolutionary War battle sites take exit 56 (Waltham Street) off of the Massachusetts Turnpik (I-90) to see Lexington’s Battle Green, Concord’s Minute Man National Historic Park)

 

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