Northeast Road Trip: Part 2, Vermont

Northeast Road Trip: Part 1- White Mountains, New Hampshire

This year I’m thankful that I got to spend time with my family, especially outdoor time. Our next stop on our Northeast road trip was Vermont, my husband’s home state. We started off our visit with his family with a bike ride in the Northeast Kingdom. Well, actually we started at The Museum of Every Day Life, which is exactly what it sounds like. It is a small barn on the side of the road with exhibits of matchbooks (including erotic ones displayed behind a curtain), paperclips, toothbrushes and a special exhibit on dust. There was dust from the moon, Mount Saint Helens and the Sistine Chapel. They even tackled big questions like, is belly button lint a form of dust? It was surprisingly philosophic, endlessly entertaining, and very Vermont.

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Picturesque lake in the Northeast Kingdom of Vermont.

We continued on our way to Barton where we began our bike ride. The weather was beautiful and the fall color was just starting to get good. We biked to Lake Willoughby, a long narrow lake framed on both sides by colorful mountains and is apparently sometimes referred to as the “Lake Lucerne of Vermont.” Is that right? I said as I chomped on an heirloom apple. It may not truly be like Lake Lucerne, but still gorgeous in its own way. Our next stop was the Old Stone House in Brownington which I was thrilled to arrive at to give my tired legs a break. The building was originally called Athenian Hall and was a boarding school run by the first African American to serve in state legislature, Alexander Twilight. Now it’s a museum that houses exhibits of 19th century life.

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Morse Farm sugar shack.

We started the next day off with a visit to Morse Farm for maple creemees and to stock up on maple syrup. It was cold and rainy but we couldn’t resist the urge to have some maple flavored soft serve for breakfast. Once sugared up we headed to an old granite quarry. Vermont is well known for its high quality granite and along with it, a community of talented carvers. The path we took was riddled with carvings on the rock faces. It was fascinating to see the artwork blend into nature around it. If you weren’t paying attention you could walk right by them.

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Lake Willoughby

The path led to ice blue ponds surrounded by shear cliffs and curved wooden boardwalks labeled as a roller coaster for mountain bikes. Large smooth cut pieces of granite jutted out of the ground at strange angles like an abandoned graveyard. We found numerous artifacts and old rusted tools laying in the stands of white birch and stopped to admire the views at overlooks. Just before the end of the trail we passed a happy young couple with a picnic basket. They just got engaged. Then we saw candles lining the end of the trail at a lookout. How romantic.

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Carvings along the old granite quarry trail.

Our last day in Vermont was my husband’s birthday and we wanted to hike up into the Green Mountains to celebrate. We headed to Camels Hump, a local favorite. The mountain is recognizable by its distinctive hump and as the third highest mountain in the state, can be seen for many miles in all directions. It’s even featured on the Vermont state quarter.

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Birch and foliage along the quarry trail.

There are many trails through the state park that lead to the summit. We took a steep and rocky path through hardwood forest and red and yellow foliage. We passed many people heading down enjoying the beautiful fall day. About halfway up we stopped at a clearing with views to the top. The hump rose abruptly and I wondered where the trail would traverse. I would soon find out as we broke above the tree line.

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Views from the granite quarry trail.

We skirted around the steep face of the hump on bare rock like mountain goats to the more easy going side. Then we entered a stand of stunted pine trees. As we climbed a bit more we got a surprise. The tops of the trees and the rocks above us were covered in a layer of hoar frost. The last push to the summit was like climbing through a winter wonderland. We bundled up with our extra layers and snacked on homemade apple squares and ginger cookies.

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Classic Vermont covered bridge.

The views from the summit were stunning and spanned from the White Mountains of New Hampshire, the mountains we visited only a few days ago, to Lake Champlain, our next days destination. Our Vermont visit was coming to an end and we made plans to head to Pennsylvania via upstate New York the following day. The birthday celebration continued that night as we savored our time with my husband’s family. Next stop: the Adirondacks.

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The view from the Camel’s Hump summit.

Bonus Camp Read!

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Wandering Home by Bill McKibben
McKibben, an environmentalist with many books to his name, takes a walk from Vermont to the Adirondacks of New York while pondering the state of his home lands. Along the way he visits with organic farmers, environmental students, and conservationists to discuss the history and issues of the land. He explores the differences between the tidy, more populated Vermont and the wild of the Adirondacks and ultimately the intricacies of the relationship between man and nature.

Car Camp, Day Hike or Backpack?  Backpack
This thin paperback fits nicely in your pack. Find a used copy or an e-book version for an environmentally friendly option.

Hikes featured in this Post:
Camel’s Hump

2 Comment

  1. Really enjoying your posts about hiking in New England. I lived in Boston for a couple years right out of college and wished I’d explored more up north. At that time in my life my personal pendulum had swung away from the backpacking of my youth (did portions of the PCT in the 1970s when you could go several days without seeing anyone else) to urban adventures and big city culture. Your photos are beautiful and of course your prose is always entertaining. That quarry trail looks positively enchanting!

    1. Thanks, Jill! I didn’t know you lived on the east coast. New England is so beautiful- I didn’t explore it as much as I should have either and I grew up so close to it! Sometimes we don’t appreciate a place until we leave it.

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