Crunching through crusted-over snow, surrounded by towering pines and sleeping white birch, my breath comes in short, sharp puffs of white vapor. I’m making my way up to the Skyline Trail from Hogback in Putnam State Forest, ascending to the ridge that connects the Worcester Mountains, and right now, I’m feeling every step.
When I set out this morning, I just wanted to get some perspective and to see the side of Vermont that I grew up exploring. Those rugged, wild spaces where I became a stee-grade hiking, icy-river-swimming, backwoods Mowgli. But I’ve been walking — scrambling, really – for what feels like hours and my legs are getting that dull-leaden feeling.
“Another twenty steps,” I tell myself. Then another thirty. The woods thin a little. Soon, the ground starts to even out and I’m on the ridge. The gentle roll of green velvet mountains unfurls beneath the misty purple of the morning sky. This is Vermont. My first love.
Sometimes you just need to seek out solitude. And there’s no place better to burrow into the quiet side of life than the village of Stowe. Situated just three-and-a-half hours from Boston, 40 minutes from Burlington, or, if you’re feeling extra saucy, eight hours from Philadelphia, Stowe is a postcard-perfect small town tucked into the Green Mountains — with a population just shy of 4,500.
Stowe’s cultural scene punches well above its weight and it plays home to some absolutely fantastic restaurants, but the town’s real draw is all of the hiking, mountain biking, snowshoeing, skiing, and swimming opportunities found nearby. Here’s our guide to the perfect long weekend in Vermont’s loveliest hamlet.
Day One: A Stop in Waterbury and a Wander Around Stowe
On the drive from Burlington to Stowe, as the road started to get curvier and my surroundings shifted from flat farms to snow-dusted foothills, I realized that a quick stopover in Waterbury was a must. Yes, I’d just arrived, but when you’re in northern Vermont, you can’t skip Waterbury’s main attraction.
I am referring, of course, to the Ben and Jerry’s Factory. True to B&J form, you won’t have to worry about missing the turn-off: the signs are very visible and, if you’re coming from the south, there’s no excuse to skip it.
After going “full glutton” on Phish Food (in a cup, thank you very much) and wandering around the flavor graveyard, where each defunct flavor has its own tombstone and a poem, I hopped back in my car and drove another 15 minutes north on the 100 to Stowe, where I decided to stay at the Field Guide Lodge.
A 10-minute walk from Main Street and a 15-minute drive from the best skiing in the area, the Field Guide is a multi-building alpine lodge with a modern twist and, most importantly, a fireplace perfect for sitting in front of on cold evenings. Alternatively, if you’re visiting in the summer, there’s a pool, a fire pit, and plenty of outdoor seating tucked into the hillside.