Vermont Outdoors

An Activity Guide to the Green Mountain State
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We came down from the mountain to fill our water containers at the general store. The early morning wind whipped across the road and lawn—a surprising chill. We worked quickly, not wanting to linger, and soon re-entered the forest.

Here, the trees softened the wind, the leaf duff radiated heat and forest smell, birds chattered—a lively warmth returned.

A century ago, this mountainside in southern Vermont had been stripped bare, farmed almost to death. None of original trees remained standing. The top soil, 10,000 years in the making, had almost all washed away. Now, more than 60 years since this land had last been been logged, it is wild again, and has become for me a refuge from the raw wounds of New York City. I come here to amble the streamside and ridgetops and points in between. I come here to cultivate a sense of hope—if these old hills can heal, so can anything.

I don't need a highway sign to know when I've crossed over the Vermont state line: I can feel it; the landscape—and life—just seems to open up. You'll see what I mean when you visit yourself. Vermont is an outdoor recreationist's nirvana. As one of the least densely populated states, especially for the northeast, there's plenty of open land to choose in deciding where to go. Deciding what to do is another tough one; Vermont offers loads of opportunities for practically any outdoor activity.

Many Americans don't realize that from 1777 to 1791, Vermont was not a recognized colony or state; it was a quasi-independent republic. The forces that created that peculiar status formed a cultural legacy that lives on. Vermonters are still off-beat, the original Yankee individualists. As recently as the 1970s, Vermont became a center for back-to-the-land movement, and the environmental and social concerns of that era live on more strongly in Vermont than any other state.

Yankees are a resourceful bunch, and so is GORP. After looking over our suggestions for where to go and what to do, check our Vermont Resources page for research leads. But don't agonize too long; there's not one, but many, many, perfect Vermont experiences. Adventure emerges from the Green Mountains along with the the rocks and the trees.

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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