Stowe Away

Summer in northern Vermont: long days, long trails, and not a single leaf peeper. Here's how to do it right.

Jul 31, 2008
Outside
Outside Magazine
Summer in Vermont

Tackle the great outdoors in Vermont   

Ride
In the past decade, Stowe's mountain-bike-trail network has expanded fourfold, to nearly 50 miles, thanks mostly to the handiwork of master trail builder Hardy Avery. His fast Split Rock Trail crosses Stowe's 1,500-acre forest, connecting most of the town's singletrack. There's no official map of the network, but kindness to the crew at the iRide bike shop—and maybe a six-pack of local favorite Rock Art Whitetail Ale—will net you directions (rentals from $30; 802-253-1947).

Swim
If you think northern Vermont is all loggers and moose hunting, you're only two-thirds right: It's also home to the country's best swimming holes. The most spectacular local spot, Bingham Falls, is the easiest to reach from Stowe: Drive ten minutes up Route 108 toward Smugglers Notch and park just beyond the entrance to Stowe Mountain Resort. From there it's a short walk to clear, frigid, snow-fed falls that drop through steep rock walls before culminating at a 35-foot cliff. Prefer a mellower plunge? Head to the Green River Reservoir, 30 minutes north in Hyde Park. Swim a quarter-mile to the reservoir's Big Island and you'll meet campers at half a dozen canoe-in sites.

Relax
Warm up in town with brick-oven pizza, sushi, and pints of locally brewed Shed Mountain Ale at the Matterhorn (matterhornbar.com), then flop down in an overstuffed lazy chair by a gaping fireplace at the two-month-old, $200 million, timber-and-stone Stowe Mountain Lodge (doubles, $300; stowemountainlodge.com). For an authentic rural-Vermont nightlife experience, head 30 minutes north to the Long Trail Tavern, in Johnson, where coeds from Johnson State College, loggers, and painters from a nearby artists' residency argue about the Red Sox alongside a woodstove, warped pool tables, and a country-and-punk-rock-heavy jukebox (802-635-7076).

Filed To: Vermont

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