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Vermont Walking & Hiking Adventure During Fall Foliage

October 11 - 15, 2021

“Thousands of tired, nerve-shaken, over-civilized people are beginning to find out that going to the mountains is going home; that wildness is a necessity.”

John Muir, 1901

That quote from 1901 was probably true when John Muir said it but it certainly seems accurate now.

Vermont is a sparsely populated state full of forests, mountains, charming towns, and friendly people. Especially in mid-October when the state’s fall foliage is in full display. It plays the perfect host to this Walking & Hiking Adventure.

Which begs the question: how do we define walking and hiking? Walking, for us, is on flat to rolling terrain while hiking is generally uphill and back down again. On this tour, we’ll have a combination of walks, hikes, and days when you can choose to do one or the other. It is a moderately paced tour appropriate for those of varying fitness levels.

We have selected two fantastic small towns for our overnights. Stowe is Vermont’s leading mountain resort, famous for its winter skiing and its summer hiking. Middlebury is Vermont’s most famous college town and boasts the wonderful Trail Around Middlebury (MAP), a 19-mile trail that circles the city. Both towns have an abundance of restaurants, breweries, and shops.

You will not need transportation on this tour at all; we meet you in Burlington and deliver you back there at the end. However, if you wish to drive your own car, that is easy to do as well and you simply need to make one shuttle in your car from Stowe to Burlington midway through.

Join us in Vermont for a fantastic fall getaway and make John Muir proud!

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Details

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Trip Highlights

  • Hike or take the gondola up to the top of Mount Mansfield, Vermont's highest point
  • Walk or hike through the 2,500 acres of the Trapp Family Lodge property
  • Check out the seven beer, wine, spirits, and cider makers on the Middlebury Tasting Trail
  • Hike portions of the 19-mile Trail Around Middlebury and then enjoy the attractions of this college town
  • Visit and taste your favorite flavor at Ben & Jerry's Vermont location
DAY 1

We meet in Burlington after lunch and shuttle to the gorgeous mountain town of Stowe, less than an hour away. (If you are driving to the tour, you can choose to meet us directly at our hotel in Stowe.) We’ll make a stop en route at the Ben & Jerry’s factory in Waterbury where you can choose to indulge in your favorite flavor. Arriving in Stowe, we’ll stop in the heart of the village at the start of the Stowe Recreation Path, a 5.3 mile paved trail that winds through town and is a great introduction to the area. The path will take us to our hotel where we’ll check in before heading out for dinner.

Distance: 5 Miles

DAY 2

This morning we’ll drive a short distance to Stowe Mountain Resort on the slopes of Mount Mansfield, the highest point in Vermont and one of the few places in the state with a true alpine environment. You have three basic options today. You can choose to hike up and back down the mountain on the Long Trail, the oldest long-distance footpath in the US and 273 miles long. (Your portion is much smaller.) You can choose to hike up and take the gondola down, take the gondola up and hike down, or take the gondola both ways and enjoy a superb 4.6-mile round trip hike at the top. Note the terrain this day can be more challenging but the gondola assist is certainly nice! In the afternoon we'll have time to explore town or hang out at the pool before having a beer at Vermont's most famous brewery, Alchemy Brewing, followed by dinner.

Distances: 2.5, 5, or 10 miles

DAY 3

This morning after breakfast we’ll check out and drive to the Trapp Family Lodge. Set on 2,500 acres and with 62 miles of trails, the lodge is the family home of the famous Von Trapp family that fled from Austria and was immortalized in the Sound of Music. We have several walking options, including a six-mile hike to Slayton Pasture Cabin or several shorter, flatter options. Lunch is on your own at the Trapp Family Brewing bierhall. After lunch, we’ll continue our journey by shuttling to Middlebury, Vermont’s most famous college town, where we’ll check in to our lodgings and have time to shower and rest before heading out to dinner.

Distances: 3 or 6 Miles

DAY 4

Today we’ll walk on a portion of the Trail Around Middlebury (TAM), an amazing asset for this small college town. The 19-mile trail loops around the town, something we wish every town and small city would have. We’ll walk six miles of the trail, up and over Chipman Hill, through Means Woods and Battell Woods, and on to Otter Creek which is the start of the Middlebury College campus. You can catch a shuttle back to the hotel or continue another 1.5 miles back through town to home. You’ll have time to explore town and in the evening we’ll have our farewell dinner at Jessica’s, the onsite restaurant of our inn.

Distances: 6 or 7.5 Miles

DAY 5

After breakfast, we will do a final morning walk of 5.4 miles on the Trail Around Middlebury. Departing from our inn, we’ll head counterclockwise on the TAM into Wright Park, paralleling Otter Creek. After a loop in the park, we’ll return to the inn to shower, check out, and say our goodbyes. You can then catch our shuttle back to Burlington or drive back home or further on your adventures.

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Trip Accommodations

NIGHTS 1 & 2 >> SUN & SKI INN / STOWE, VT

The Sun & Ski Inn is located in the heart of Stowe, considered Vermont's mountain town. Rated #3 in Stowe on Trip Advisory (which is filled with high-end properties), this contemporary and casual option is full of amenities including miniature golf, an indoor pool and hot tub, and even a bowling alley onsite! With plenty of restaurants and shops, a river that runs right through town, and mountains (including Vermont's highest peak) above, Stowe has something for everyone.

NIGHTS 3 & 4 >> SWIFT HOUSE INN / MIDDLEBURY, VT

Claiming to be "Vermont's only full-service inn", the Swift House is composed of three historic buildings on four acres just a short walk from the city center. The inn's 21 rooms are updated to contemporary styles and with modern amenities. Middlebury is Vermont's most famous college town and a great place to have fun.

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Arrival & Departure

If you are driving to the tour, we will meet you in the afternoon at Ben & Jerry's in Waterbury, Vermont. You will need to make one shuttle mid-trip from Stowe to Middlebury. If you are flying to the area, we will pick you up at the airport in Burlington and drop you back off on the last day of the tour.

What's Included?
  • At least two Zephyr guides accompany each trip and a third is added as necessary.
  • Double occupancy lodging is included. If you are traveling solo, we will match you with another traveler of the same gender. However, you may pay a single supplement to have your own room.
  • All of your dinners and breakfasts are included. Gratuity for these meals is also included. In general, we leave lunches open so that you have time to explore and enjoy the local flavors en route.
  • All your transportation is included once you meet your guides on the first day.
  • NOT INCLUDED Beverages, desserts, lunches, gratuities to your guides, personal expenses and travel to and from the destination.
Weather

The summer season in Vermont runs from about mid-May through mid-October, so we are at the very tail end of the hiking months. The average daytime high in Stowe will only be in the upper 50s and it is possible to get snow overnight. Middlebury will be a bit warmer. However, the cold nights are what produces the fall foliage, and we will happily wear a hat and extra layer to take in the majestic colors.

Extending Your Stay

You will need a car if you wish to extend your stay in the area. Since fall is peak season, we suggest you make hotel reservations in advance. We don't spend any time in Burlington, which is a fun city worth spending a night or two. There are many other cute, small towns in the state!

Changes to Your Itinerary

While everything under “What is Included” will remain the same, the actual restaurants, hotels, and activities listed in our itineraries are subject to modifications. Changes that are out of our control are common – a restaurant closes or loses its awesome chef, a winery changes its visiting hours, a hotel gets remodeled, a road or trail undergoes construction. You are entrusting us to create an outstanding vacation for you and so it is possible we may take the liberty of making necessary changes (even at the last minute, during the guides’ scout trip) to the itinerary that will improve your overall trip experience. If there is any one experience that is going to make or break your trip, please discuss this with us in advance! We will attempt to keep our website itinerary as current as possible and communicate any major changes with you in the weeks prior to the tour.

 

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