Outdoor Activities

This page is a collection of the venues, businesses and locations in Stowe and the surrounding towns that I personally recommend.

What better reason is there for coming to Vermont than to enjoy the outdoors. With so many outdoor activities to choose from it’s no wonder people come here from all over the world.

Growing up in Southern California I actually had plenty of opportunities to go camping or skiing in the San Bernardino Mountains, the Sierra Nevada Mountains and the Mojave Desert. But as with most people who live in metropolitan areas, we had to drive hours to get there and hours to get home again.

Living in Northern Vermont, nature and the great outdoors is literally just out your front door! All my favorite outdoor activities are no more than 15 minutes from home or the office. So whether it’s an outdoor activity to enjoy over the weekend, on my lunch break or after work, it’s always easy to do.

Check out my suggestions or call me for ideas and come enjoy all that the area has to offer!
 

Kayaking

There are many spots locally to get out on the water and enjoy a quiet paddle. Here are my favorites:

The Waterbury Reservoir is in Stowe and Waterbury. I prefer to put in at the Stowe end at Cotton Brook in Nebraska Valley. That end of the reservoir has a no motor restriction.

My favorite spot is the Green River Reservoir. The “GRR” is one of Vermont’s newest state parks and one of Vermont’s best kept secrets. Located in Hyde Park (only ten minutes from my back door), we can go out on a weekend afternoon or an evening paddle with friends after work. There is nothing better than putting in on a warm summer’s evening before sunset and paddling back by moonlight. The GRR is abundant with wildlife and we regularly see families of river otters, always busy beavers and more loons than you will ever see or hear anywhere in Maine. The best part of the GRR is that motorized boats and personal watercraft are not allowed. You can buy a day pass or a season pass (good at all Vermont State Parks) for very little money. You can also reserve one of the primitive campsites that are spread out along the shoreline and only accessible by kayak or canoe.

Occasionally we enjoy kayaking on the Winooski River from any one of a number of “put ins”. Just a safety caution here: always check with one of the local paddling shops such as Umiak Outdoor Outfitters in Stowe to be sure the water levels and temperatures are safe for your planned paddle (especially in the springtime or after a summer rainy period). You can put in at the Middlesex Dam in Middlesex and paddle down to the Bolton Dam which is a 10 mile paddle or you can take out about half way down at the Smith Street put in in Waterbury or put in there for a five mile paddle to the Bolton dam. My favorite paddle on the Winooski River is a 10 mile paddle which starts at the Ethan Allen Homestead in Burlington and ends where the Winooski River empties in grand fashion into Lake Champlain. As you enter the lake the Adirondack Mountains of New York state across the lake are in full view. If you bear left upon entering the lake Uncle Charlie’s Boat House is immediately on your left, which is where we take out. You can leave a car at Uncle Charlie’s for a few bucks which is located at the very end of North Ave. in Colchester. Be sure to leave a picnic lunch or dinner in your car there and sit at on of the picnic tables and enjoy the view. Please be sure to say “Hi” to Uncle Charlie for me.

Hiking

There are so many hikes to choose from and where I go usually depends on how much time I have. If I only have a couple of hours the Pinnacle which trail head is located on Upper Hollow Road in Stowe works well.

Sterling Pond is also a great two hour hike. You can leave from the Spruce Peak parking lot and hike up the ski trail. When you reach the top you are rewarded by this pristine high mountain pond (the state’s highest trout pond) where you can fish or go for a refreshing swim on a hot summer’s day before heading back.

Mt. Mansfield in Stowe can be approached from a variety of trailheads. You can park in the Notch and go up from there or you can go in from the head of Nebraska Valley. As you hike along you are actually hiking a section of the Long Trail. From the top of Mt. Mansfield you can see Lake Champlain and the Adirondack Mountains of New York State. If you hike up from Smugglers Notch it is about a 2.3 mile, 2.5 hour trip to the summit, so a 5 hour round trip.

Elmore Mountain is about a 3 hour round trip that begins at the Lake Elmore State Park in Elmore. When you get near the top there is an amazing view of the lake. If you are feeling adventurous there is a 15 minute scramble to the summit and if you really love heights you can ascend the 40 foot fire tower at the top.

Camel’s Hump can be approached from the Duxbury side or the Huntington side. I prefer coming in from the Huntington sideand take Camel’s Hump Road to the trailhead. The easier of the two approaches from there is the Burrow’s Trail which is a 3.5 hour round trip. I prefer a 5 hour loop that originates from the same trailhead via the Forest Trail which intersects the Long Trail and approaches the summit from the south (a more challenging approach) then back down to the trailhead via the Burrow’s Trail.

Mountain Biking

Mountain biking is becoming more and more popular by the day and the Stowe area is right in step with the sport. There are so many rides to choose from including Cady Hill Forest, Adams Camp, Sterling Valley and Cotton Brook in Stowe, Perry Hill in Waterbury and Ten Bends in Morrisville. The Stowe Mountain Bike Club sells maps for these rides (except Ten Bends) at all the local bike shops.

Cady Hill Forest in Stowe was conserved by the Stowe Land Trust and then donated to the Town of Stowe in May of 2012. The Forest which consists of 320 acres has 11 miles of interconnected trails and is located in the center of town and accessible from a variety of locations including the Town Parking Lot on the Mountain Road, the end of Cady Hill Road south of the village and behind Iride on the Mountain Road. The Forest has trails for all abilities and the Stowe Mountain Bike Club on building more novice and intermediate trails in the near future. My favorite ride is the Town Loops ending by coming down Bear’s Trail (look for the carved bear up in the tree at the top of the trail) which is a series of “flowy”, banked switchbacks ending at the town parking lot on the Mountain Road.

Ten Bends is located in Morristown and is accessible from Cady’s Falls Road, Walton Road or Hyde Park Village. I love to go in from Hyde Park Village, across the large hay field bisected by the road into Ten Bends, which crosses the Lamoille River, and then through the Ten Bends neighborhood. Please remember that all of this property is privately owned so be respectful and gracious. Once on the trails at the end of the road you ride through the woods and then enter into and out of various otherwise hidden meadows and along the river and various mountain streams. This is one of the most scenic rides around.

Fly Fishing

Fly fishing in Lamoille County is fantastic. The Lamoille River runs through Wolcott, Morristown, Hyde Park, Johnson and Cambridge eventually emptying into Lake Champlain. At any point along the river one can expect to hook Rainbows, Browns and Brookies.

The Gihon River also has an excellent reputation for fly fishing. The Gihon has its head waters in Eden and runs down through Johnson and empties into the Lamoille River in Hyde Park.

For more information on local fishing conditions or to pick up some gear you can go to the Fly Rod Shop in Stowe.

 

Golf

We have some fun and challenging golf courses in the area. The Stowe Country Club and Country Club of Vermont in Waterbury are all 18 hole courses. Copley C.C. and Rider Brook Golf Course in Morristown and Mountain View C.C. in Greensboro are all 9 hole courses. Not being as avid a golfer as some I prefer to play on one of the 9 hole courses (which are no less challenging) for a couple of hours.

 

Downhill Skiing and Riding

Everyone knows that Stowe is the Ski Capital Of The East, and for good reason. On Mt. Mansfield and Spruce Peak the Stowe Mountain Resort features some of the best novice, intermediate, advanced and expert terrain as can be found including a world class terrain park and half pipe. Stowe Mountain Resort also has the best snow making and grooming in the business.

No matter where you live in Lamoille County you are within an hour or less drive from six Northern Vermont ski resorts including Stowe Mountain Resort, Smugglers's Notch Resort in Jeffersonville, Jay Peak in Troy, Sugarbush Resort in Waitsfield, Bolton Valley in Bolton and Mad River Glen with the slogan "Ski It If You Can" since they never groom their trails making it more challenging as the season progresses (which also results in very reasonable ticket prices).

Cross Country Skiing

Cross country touring centers with groomed trails abound and all the touring centers and other back country trails in Stowe are inter-connected. The Trapp Family Lodge Touring Center in Stowe has 60km of groomed trails and 100km of back country trails. The Stowe Mountain Resort Touring Center has 45km of groomed and 30km of back country trails. The Craftsbury Touring Center in Craftsbury is set up as a non-profit organization with the mission of providing cross country skiing at a very affordable rate and has an excellent trail system and grooming. If you like something less formal (and free!), the Cricket Hill Trails in Hyde Park is a community based trail system with 10km of trails groomed by volunteers.

If Back Country Skiing is your thing we’ve got hundreds of miles of trails from the Catamount Trail a 300 mile long trail that runs the length of Vermont and cuts right through the back country of Stowe to the various “secret spots” (sorry they’re secret) to all the Stowe Land Trust Trails around Stowe. My favorite area to explore in Stowe is the Sterling Forest. The Sterling Forest consists of 2,150 acres of conserved lands at the head of Sterling Valley and backs up to thousands of acres of state lands. Not only do the Catamount and Long Trails run through the Forest but also a variety of other trails that will connect you with the rest of Stowe and beyond.

Ice Skating

There are three indoor rinks in the area. The Jackson Arena in Stowe Village is being replaced in the spring of 2013 with a new state of the art indoor rink. The Green Mountain Arena is in Morrisville and The Ice Center is in Waterbury.

The Stowe Recreation Path

The Stowe Recreation Path deserves special mention here. The Rec Path follows the West Branch River as it flows down from the Mountain with the occasional bridge crossing and a number of fantastic swimming holes from the village all the way up the Mountain Road ending just past Top Notch Resort. In the spring/summer/fall seasons it is great for walking, running, cycling, rollerblading or just relaxing. In the winter the town grooms and tracks the path so you can ski or snowshoe its length. There are several parking areas including one behind the Stowe Community Church in the village, on Luce Hill Road across from the Stony Brook Condos, the Mountain Road across from the Land Mark Meadow and on the Covered Bridge Road. The Rec Path is a good way to get up and down the Mountain Road under your own power and a great place to bring the kids.

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