Quechee Gorge and Windsor Vermont

There’s something about the mountains of Vermont which speaks to me at a deep level. The winding roads, the gentle green slopes, the contrast between the lush mountains and the blue skies … it relaxes me almost immediately. Add to this the excellent local food and beer, and the fact that we can get there without touching the Mass Pike, I-495, or I-95, and you can begin to understand why I keep coming back.

To close out May of this year, we traveled with our friends Sean and Crystal and their daughter Olivia. We’ve traveled with them several times before, in both Vermont and the Berkshires. We have similar relaxed traveling styles when it comes to the outdoors and a love of great food, and our kids get along well too.

This time, we stayed at the Holiday Inn Club Vacations Mount Ascutney Resort, a small ski resort near Windsor, Vermont.

The resort itself is beautiful, spacious, and quiet (maybe too quiet for some — it’s certainly a vastly different feel than Smugglers’ Notch). In the photos above you can see the building we stayed in, as well as the views from the rear of the main building, looking out over a small pond and up at the hills.  If you look closely you can see a fire pit with firewood stacked near it; we enjoyed some relaxing time around this fire but not nearly enough.  There’s something about a fire pit and a good drink that erases weeks of stress per hour spent.

We drove on Saturday up to Windsor for a visit to The Harpoon Riverbend Taps and Beer Garden. The food was great, and the atmosphere a ton of fun. I highly recommend it if you’re in the area.

We enjoyed sampler flights and a good lunch, and then spent some time outside playing as families.

Unfortunately, we didn’t time things well and I missed out on the brewery tour.  Next time!

The next day we went up the road a bit further to Quechee Gorge, also known as Vermont’s Grand Canyon.  A hundred year old bridge here is 163 feet above the river below, and makes for jaw-dropping views in both directions.  The bridge has crosswalks at both ends and wide sidewalks making for excellent, safe exploration (once you get over your fear of heights).

There’s a few hiking trails near here and we did a short hike up the river to the beautiful Dewey’s Pond. Along the way I couldn’t help photograph some of the cool tree bark.

At the end of the trail, we caught tadpoles in the pond and watched kayakers go by the river bend.

After exploring the trails, we stopped at the nearby gift shop and ice cream store.

The next morning, before the rains hit, we did a bit of exploring the property. Little memories sometimes make the most difference; we floated sticks under a small bridge over a nearby stream and watched them go over a little waterfall.

It wasn’t a very long trip, but three nights in the mountains does a world of good.

Alden Bryan Brewster River Trail – Cambridge, Vermont

This Memorial Day, we took a long weekend trip to Smugglers’ Notch, Vermont with some friends. Vermont is a great state; they’ve really figured out quite a bit about what makes New England great (other than, I guess, beaches), their mountains are more inviting and approachable than New Hampshire’s, and they have some of the best beer in the country.

On Saturday, we had breakfast in town and then browsed at a farm store across the street. Our friend Sean talked up someone selling local honey, and found out about a nearby short hike that would lead us to a waterfall. We made it our next stop.

Immediately off Route 108, there’s a small turnoff with a covered bridge that goes over the Brewster River. There’s a small parking area and picnic table overlooking the river here (“Brewster Park”), and we paused for a moment to stretch our legs and admire the scenery.



The water was shallow and inviting, but cold.  Not cold enough to keep my girls out, though….053

After posing for some pictures and skipping some rocks, we headed back up to the parking area and then across the covered bridge, and entered the trail.079

The kids were fascinated by the trail heading off into the woods, and took off at a run.  I can think of few sights more welcome!


The trail hugs the river and is fairly easy-going for most of its duration. It crosses a few little streams with small log bridges; these were fun and interesting, especially for the kids.  Periodically, the trail would expose beautiful views of the river.


On the opposite bank you can see a tent site; we weren’t clear if this was someone’s private property or a nearby campground.


Here you can see some of the erosion at work where the river has changed the shape of the boulders in the river over many years.

Before too long, we reached a fork in the trail.  Down would lead to the base of the falls, up to the top.  We started by heading down.


The falls are at the base of a steep and rocky gorge where fallen trees have collected over the years.  We paused here and soaked in the sun (the shady forest path had been fairly cool, but the rocks here which had been baking in the sun made an excellent recharging station). We explored, watched little fish dart around in the water, and skipped more rocks.  It was a beautiful quiet time, undisturbed and natural.



After a good chunk of sunny recharging time, most of us headed back up to the top of the gorge.  It was a short but steep climb, less than 5 minutes but our legs were feeling it by the end.  From the top we had incredible views of the gorge from the other side, as well as some roaring waterfalls leading into the gorge.




We stayed at the top for a shorter period of time, because our friend and her daughter were waiting for us at the bottom.  We returned back and the kids ran all the way back to the trailhead.

It was a great hidden treasure and I’m so glad we paused to talk to the locals and find it.  Next time we head to Vermont I will try and do more research on smaller trails ahead of time; it would have been a shame to miss this!