Luxury Hiking Vermont

Southern Vermont - Elegant Lodgings and Inspiring Peaks
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Back on the road, we headed south again to our final Vermont hotel, the famous Equinox. The resort traces its roots back to 1769, when Ethan Allen's Green Mountain Boys plotted against the Tories in what was called the Marsh Tavern (now one of the hotel's restaurants). Since then, various owners made additions, acquiring new property and building a golf course. It is now a grand resort hotel, with all the ambiance and amenities one would expect at such a property.

Dinner at the hotel's elegant Colonade Room was certainly the culinary "high peak" of the trip. My memory of the raspberry mouse and macaroon desert will stay with me almost as long as that of the view from Mount Mansfield.

The next day we did have another mountain to conquer before saying good-bye to the Green Mountains—Stratton, the highest peak in the southern part of the state at 3,936 feet. Getting to the Long Trail access point to climb Stratton was an adventure in itself, as it's located on an unmarked dirt road between Arlington and West Wardsboro that proved difficult to find.

Stratton Mountain has a unique place in U.S. hiking history. In 1909, James P. Taylor conceived the idea of the Long Trail while traversing its slopes. A few years later Benton MacKaye stood on Stratton's summit and was inspired to develop an entire trail system from Georgia to Maine—what became the Appalachian Trail.

The two trails, Long and Appalachian, take the same route up Stratton Mountain. The three-and-a-half-mile climb is gradual, and about half way up there are outstanding views of Mount Snow and the Somerset Reservoir. On the peak is an abandoned fire tower. Tony and I overcame our fear of heights to climb the metal stairs for an eagle's eye view of the Green Mountains. We could see Stratton Pond and Mount Equinox to the west, Mount Monadnock to the southeast, and Mount Ascutney to the northeast—all dressed in a sea of green pine.

Looking to the north, I thought, if I just kept walking on the Long Trail from Green Mountain peak to Vermont valley, how long would it take to reach Canada?

"It's a beautiful day," I said, "we should just keep going."

At that moment, a sudden gust of wind shook the fire tower and brought my thoughts back to earth.

"I was just fooling," I said as I climbed down the shaky steps and remembered Robert Frost's line about what results from "outdoor schooling."

Published: 29 Apr 2002 | Last Updated: 15 Sep 2010
Details mentioned in this article were accurate at the time of publication


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