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Fall Getaways: Southern Vermont

September 10, 2008
by Sarah Amandolare
Fall is made for festivals, hikes in the woods and scenic road-trips, with stops along the way for crisp red apples and stunning photo opportunities. This week, we highlight distinctly autumnal opportunities in Southern Vermont.

Culinary Festivities

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For wine, specialty foods and artisan crafts in a quintessential fall setting, head to south Vermont’s Mount Snow Valley for the Vermont Life Wine & Harvest Festival. The event kicks off Friday evening with a Blue Grass Party and Barbeque, and continues with tasty festivities all weekend long. On Saturday, the Vermont Wine and Cheese reception brims with wines from Northern Vermont organic wine producer Shelburne Farms Vineyards, and boasts fragrant, carefully crafted cheeses from The Vermont Cheese Council. Click the “Entertainment and Demos” section of the Festival Web site for a schedule of musical performances, a food writer panel, and various demonstrations, such as cider pressing and rock climbing.

Vermont’s Jamaican Trails

Perfect for unwinding after a day of food and drink, nearby Jamaica State Park has plenty of open space and hikes of varying levels of difficulty. Meander along the scenic West River to Cobb Brook for an easy hike, or venture toward the 125-foot high Hamilton Falls along the trickier, more strenuous trail. The park area has a colorful history, formerly traversed by the West River Railroad, and occupied by small farms and a sawmill. In 1748, an Indian Massacre occurred at what is now the Salmon Hole swimming area.

The rapid-flowing West River is visible from the easier trail, with water full of eel and brook trout, and a riverbed teeming with mussels and two rare species of tiger beetles.
The town of Jamaica, just a five-minute walk from the park, is also worth a quick visit for its “distinctly funky vibe.” New residents have erected yoga studios and markets, while properties are an eye-catching mix of “1970s ski chalets and a smattering of saltboxes and farmhouses.”

Vermont Life magazine suggests cycling the West River trail in the springtime, but the trail’s “flat, curved path” seems well suited to fall rides, as well. Learn which turns and twists lead cyclists to harder and easier routes along West River by scrolling down to number two on the list of ten Vermont bike rides, Ball Mountain Dam.

100 Miles of Charm

Along the 100-mile road trip from Wilmington to Mount Snow Resort and back, fall foliage gives way to charming villages, including Whitingham and Readsboro, as well as photo opportunities at scenic vistas, and a lake. The Vermont Department of Tourism and Marketing recommends the drive during autumn months, and provides free printable PDF maps of the route.

All Natural Snack

The Vermont Agency of Agriculture lists farmers markets by county, including six in Windham, in Southern Vermont. A map of market locations is also available.
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