Stowe’s hills are definitely alive, and no more so than at the Trapp Family Lodge. The Sound of Music association has worked well for the 2400-acre Austrian-style resort, which is a cross-country ski center in the winter. In summer, it offers hiking, horse-drawn wagon rides, bird-watching tours and Sunday evening “Music in the Meadow” concerts. The “Real Maria” documentary film shows twice a day.
On 500 acres in Williston, the nonprofit Catamount Outdoor Family Center maintains more than 20 miles of trails for running, biking and hiking. You can take part in organized races or do your own thing.
Button Bay is one of the best beaches on Lake Champlain: The water’s clean, and you can rent canoes and kayaks right there. If neither swimming nor boating appeals, there’s always the area’s unique geology: flat round “button-like” rocks along the shoreline are great for skipping. Seventy-three campsites and 13 lean-tos beckon if you feel like staying over. Samuel de Champlain, Ethan Allen, Benedict Arnold and Ben Franklin all did. PHOTO: CAROL DINGLEY
It’s less than two miles to the top of this popular hiking destination. Perfect for kids — and you get a big-mountain view.
Stowe Mountain Resort, like every other Vermont ski area, is in global-warming gear. An “All Day Summer Attraction Package” — $70 for adults, $64 for kids — includes use of an alpine slide that drops 2300 feet; a bungee trampoline that requires a full body harness; and an inflatable obstacle course. The traditional gondola skyride is always nice, especially when there’s a restaurant serving gourmet Vermont lunches at the top of the mountain. Prefer to get there on your own?
The views of Lake Champlain, the Champlain Valley and the Adirondacks are breathtaking from this hillock that also happens to be a state park. It’s a short, winding climb to the top — on a road that you have to share with cars, and you have to pay either way — but somehow the exhaust fumes don’t spoil the experience. Must have something to do with all those happy people at the top.
This fertile flood plain at the north end of Burlington hosts myriad organic market gardens, a gardening-supply store and a big, stinky controversial compost pile (for now, anyway). Hikers and bikers can explore trails that wind along the Winooski River all the way to the Ethan Allen Homestead.
Middlebury is a walking town. If you’re really ambitious, there’s an 18-mile Trail Around Middlebury — a project of the Middlebury Area Land Trust. A combination of hiking trails, dirt roads and paved highways, TAM stretches from the Otter Creek Gorge Preserve to the Battell Woods.
The forest is never far away when you’re in central Vermont. In Montpelier, there’s a 28-acre reserve on Elm Street. The North Branch Nature Center maintains a network of hiking trails along the Winooski River and through Hubbard Park that links up with a similar system in East Montpelier. Nature programs for all ages include summer camps for kids, lecture series and amphibian monitoring programs.
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