The Perfect 10

Seyon Ranch, Vermont

    Photo: U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service

Seyon Ranch

802-584-3829, www.vtstateparks.com.
Rooms sleep two to four people and cost $30 per person per night. Meals cost $6-$18 per person.

I WATCHED JAKE, my six-year-old son, toss his fly into the water slow and easy. "A natural," I mused. On his next cast, however, he snagged his younger sister's head as she sat behind him in the dinghy. Much to the dismay of the taciturn anglers nearby, Melanie started to shriek as only a four-year-old girl can, and it was time to end the day's fly-fishing instruction. We retreated from Noyes Pond, where we'd been stalking squaretail trout, to the lodge and its screened-in porch, 100 yards away.

Seyon Ranch, in the wooded heart of Vermont's 25,000-acre Groton State Forest, was a private hunting and fishing lodge in the 1930s. The eight-room structure was long neglected and almost bulldozed, but in 2001 the owner—the state of Vermont—replaced peeling wallpaper with Vermont maple paneling, and added a commercial kitchen. The lodge reopened in May 2002.

During our three-day stay, we swam in Lake Groton, eight miles northeast in Boulder Beach State Park, mountain-biked the abandoned Montpelier-Wells River Railroad bed, and hiked up 1,958-foot Owl's Head Mountain, treating ourselves to views of Mount Mansfield and the serrated spine of the Green Mountains to the northwest. But the highlight was an early morning stroll around Peacham Bog, where we spotted a moose slurping in the shallows. We crept so close that Jake could have hooked the sucker with his fly rod.

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