2014  HIKING, CYCLING,

& RV TRAVEL ADVENTURES

 

   
 
Runtrails' Web Journal
 
Previous       2014 Journal Topics       Home       Next
 

   IT DOESN'T GET MUCH GREENER THAN THE 
GREEN MOUNTAIN STATE IN JULY: ENJOYING
SIMPLE PLEASURES IN CENTRAL VERMONT

TUESDAY, JULY 22

 
"Slower than molasses running uphill in January."
~ old Vermont saying
 
 
Vermont is too far north (i.e., cold) for us to visit in January, but we sure like it in the summer.

Yesterday we drove 117 miles from North Adams, Massachusetts through western and central Vermont to the Pine Valley KOA near Quechee Gorge.

US highways 7 and 4 took us on a very scenic route along the Green Mountains through the towns of Bennington, Manchester, and Rutland, past the popular Killington ski area, and through picturesque Woodstock, one of our favorite New England towns.

The mountains, forests, rivers, and farms are just gorgeous along this route and others we've taken. I honestly don't think there are any ugly roads in Vermont! It's a beautiful state in all seasons.

This is the same route we took while doing the A.T. Adventure Run/Hike nine years ago but since I wasn't moving up the trail on foot each day, we did it in just one day this time -- despite several stops along the way to make our journey more relaxed.

At the southern end of Bennington we stopped for about 20 minutes at the Apple Barn to get some pastries, fudge, and soft serve maple "ice cream." Everything was very tasty:

They also have u-pick blueberries but we didn't take time to do that since we already have a bunch of blueberries. We sat at a shady picnic table with the dogs while we ate our ice cream, then continued north.

RVers, note that the large parking lot has plenty of room for any size rig.

PINE VALLEY KOA

Pine Valley has become a KOA park since we were last here in 2005. It's actually our third time to camp at this park. Good thing we like the place because for a rig our size, it's the best option in this area. Nearby Quechee Gorge State Park campground has only a few sites for large RVs and it doesn't have any sites with electricity. As hot as it is right now, we wanted to be able to run our air conditioner this week.

KOA has high standards for its parks and the prices reflect that. We usually avoid the chain because the campgrounds have so many amenities we don't use. We immediately noticed the most obvious changes from our last visit here -- a swimming pool, several Kamping Kabins, and a fenced dog park.


Pool near entrance to RV park


Kamping Kabins

There are 92 tent and RV sites, with pull-through and back-in sites for every size of rig. All or most of the RV sites are full hook-up.

We have a spacious back-in site in the back corner near a wooded area:

Although we are too far from the office to get free WiFi we do have a strong Verizon signal for our phones and MiFi. The manager came out pronto to fix our TV cable when we had problems with it.

We decided to get a KOA card because we may need to use the chain once or twice more in a year's time. If not, we're out only $13 of the $27 annual fee. The cost for this back-in FHU site with 30-amp electricity and cable is $50.85/night, including tax, more than double what we usually pay for a site at a military campground. We got 10% off that price with the card; they don't accept any other discounts like AAA, AARP, or military. 

This is a very nice campground (we liked it before they spiffed it up, too). It is very attractive and well-maintained. Almost every site is taken. We were lucky to get a good site with only a couple weeks' notice.

I don't know f they have any seasonal sites but it'd be a good place to spend the summer. There is a lot to do within 50 miles of here, and we're packing a lot into the 2 days we are here.

QUECHEE GORGE STATE PARK

This linear park along the Ottauquechee River and gorge stretches for about two miles on either side of US 4 near the town of Quechee. The visitor center and campground entrance are conveniently located by this highway and are close to the Pine Valley KOA.


Yellow highlighting = trails we hiked

 


Inside the Quechee Gorge visitor center

The land along the river was owned by a major wool processor in the 19th century. When the mill closed the Army Corps of Engineers built at least two dams above the gorge to control the flow of water through the gorge. The land near Quechee was turned over to the state in the 1960s to become this nice park.

The main attraction in the park is the 165-foot deep gorge, which can most easily be seen from the walkways on either side of the US 4 bridge that spans it. I had trouble getting a good photo of it:

There is also a nice trail through scenic wooded and open areas. You can start at the south end near the visitor center or at the north end near Dewey's Mill Pond.

Here is a series of photos I took on two hikes we took in the park:


The south end of the trail near visitor center is mostly shaded.

Above and below:  Dewey's Mill Pond is very scenic.

 


The northern part of the trail near the pond is more open, with lots of wildflowers.

Above and below:  dam at head of Quechee Gorge

 

 
More shade on the trail above the gorge


View toward river above the dam and gorge

SUGARBUSH FARM

Almost every time we've been to Woodstock we've driven to the nearby Sugarbush Farm to buy some of the delicious cheese and maple products it makes. This long-time family business is fun for both kids and adults and there is no charge unless you purchase some of their yummy products (it's hard not to).

We walked down to the sugar house first -- hadn't been there before -- and it started raining pretty hard. We had plenty of historical information to read there, so just waited until the rain stopped.

A tall pole near the sugar house shows the depth of previous winter snows. The highest mark = 128" in 2003-4.

This rope and sign are nearby, providing visitors with a sample of Vermont wit:

 

In the farmhouse/store we first sampled several kinds of cheese and syrup, then wandered around picking out the products we wanted to buy.

We got a pint of pure, strong maple syrup, large chunks of very sharp cheddar and smoked cheddar, plus some venison sausage.

 

On the way back to the truck we visited the pens with various farm animals -- a cow, rabbit, chickens, and goats.


Goats named "Peanut Butter" and "Nibbles"

Pets are allowed on the property but we left the dogs in the truck because of the mud.

Continued on the next pagescenes from Woodstock, iconic covered bridges, and a daytrip to the Appalachian Trail bridge over Clarendon Gorge

Happy trails,

Sue
"Runtrails & Company" - Sue Norwood, Jim O'Neil, Cody the ultra Lab, and Casey-pup

Previous       Next

2014 Sue Norwood and Jim O'Neil

-