My best intentions had me hitting up 2-3 lower mileage hikes (under 5 miles), stopping at a brewery, checking out some local farms, exploring Burlington, and looping around through rural highway prior to arriving at my lodging that night. Not enough time :) There would have been so many incredible farms to check out, cider & brew options, and so many hiking trails. I also didn't stop at the well-known coffee nor ice cream factories. Must return!
But here is what I did see in 24 hours or less:
From Hwy 89 in NH/VT, I'd cut over to Hwy 4. This Quechee Gorge was located just on the Hwy and it was neat to see something that reminded me so much of home :) Just shows how so much of nature is similar and holds within it incredible patterns. Hwy 4 takes you through the little town of Woodstock, which had a few farms to investigate nearby, loads of trails, and covered bridges. I only had time for a quick hike however so I headed to the town park and walked up Faulkner's Trail to an overlook of the town:
From here, I got back in the car and headed for Long Trail Brewery which was just a bit further along Hwy 4 and going in the right direction. After my late lunch, I headed along the rural highway with every intention of checking out a local farm....only to realize that the "open" hours would end before I could get there :) But the sites from the highway with mountains in the background and so many incredible family farms sprawled across the country side sure made my heart happy. I made it to Burlington about 530pm...and I quickly realized that I would probably love it there.
Lake Champlain from Burlington. Burlington has a population of 42 thousand, it's a college town, it's situated alongside a huge lake with mountains easily accessible, local sustainable farms nearby, and that path in front of that bench is a running/biking trail. The options seem incredible here. I stopped just long enough to check out this park & chat with a local coffee shop owner who made me some great herbal tea for my throat and suggested a top-rated brewery north of where I was staying (didn't make it though....). En route to my evening location, I drove through some of the rest of the town which had a cute plaza area downtown and lovely buildings! (And I'm just going to mention that the ads alone on the coffee shop bathroom bulletin board made me feel at home :))
This night I stayed in an AirBnB on Camel's Hump, which turned out fine but a bit interesting :) I had a rock fly up off the highway and ding the upper left drivers side windshield of the rental. The rest of the drive was pretty uneventful but the house was definitely located in the middle of no where. It also turned out that this guy is in the process of remodeling his home and the only furnished bedroom is his, so he literally rents out his own bed/bathroom. He was super nice (even offered to cook me dinner) and I didn't have any concerns with being there...just sort of a bit more awkward situation than what I'm used to with this sort of travel. We had a great conversation about my hoped for hike the next day and his little guy who lives in San Diego.
Camel's Hump is one of the higher peaks that has not been developed in the state and thus it has blown up in terms of the amount of hikers (and preservation groups) interested in the area. (It was great getting a local's views on much of this!) I had a great time going up the first two-ish miles on this trail.....
.....and then I hit the iced over trail that my host had forewarned me about. I've never had to hike with ice attachments to my shoes before (and I don't own them nor did I rent any for this trip) so at this point I turned around. Luckily I already knew this was coming and while he said I could probably navigate carefully on or around it, I didn't feel like it was worth it to get to the top at this time. Which can I just say that this was a huge example of how much I've settled down? Two years ago I would have hauled myself slip sliding across the ice to the top and shook off any bumps/bruises I gained on the way, but these days I'm okay with just taking life for what it is (and making sure to avoid injury). Besides, the trail run down was pretty awesome anyway :)
I actually had lucked out since I'd stayed on the mountain and had the trail to myself most of the way. As I hit the trailhead, three other couples were headed up and I met SIX other cars as I drove away. I agree with my host....it's getting over populated.
From Camel's Hump, I turned off and drove through Montpelier. Super cute historical town, but I didn't want to pay for parking so I ended up not stopping for breakfast or more coffee here. From here, I'd had plans to stop on the west side of the White Mountains to do some hiking, but I decided to push on toward my night destination to check-in earlier and then explore the eastern side. (Plus since so many trails were iced over I figured it'd be better to get somewhere where I could ask around.) I drove along a variety of highways and I really enjoyed seeing so much of the "countryside" this way. Ironically it's not really the countryside because it's just the norm of the state. I also spent some time thinking about the lack of grocery stores, the true norm of the family farm, and I would absolutely love to explore more how this region functions in terms of food production and year round access. I have my own guesses, but it's definitely something to look into (and look upon as a model, which so many already do :)).
In New Hampshire heading toward the White Mountains. I stopped near here at the White Mountain Coffeeshop & Bookstore (finally...more coffee!!). It had amazing homemade juices, local food, delicious coffee (maple lattes) and I couldn't resist picking up a few books. I ended up with a hiking book for the White Mountains and I'm thoroughly enjoying reading the short stories found within Mountain Voices.
It didn't take too long to drive through the bit of the White Mountains and arrive in North Conway where I was staying the night. North Conway is known as a hub for outdoor pursuits and I seriously loved the little room I had here in the historic Kearsage Inn. (Also was the best deal of the trip since it was the off season and a week day....and they had the friendliest staff.) In hindsight I wish I would have remembered to hit up the local outdoor store that the Plymouth host had suggested: IME and I also didn't stop at the AMC information spots. Both would be spots to check out next time.
I did however head out for Diana's Baths and at the advice of a mountain biker I met (while trying to find the actual trailhead), I ended up getting in a great trail run that evening. There are so many various trails from North Conway and the surrounding region, but this particular evening the trail run was perfect:
After a shower and soak in the tub, I headed to SeaDog Brewery (which is actually a Maine brewery) in North Conway for fish tacos (yum!) and a blueberry beer (double yum and with blueberries floating in it!). After food, I made it back to the Inn to grade my online courses and then crash for the night.
Next up: Maine! :)