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