Hiking through a Vacation in Vermont's Northeast Kingdom
Take a Vermont Vacation!
I grew up next to the massive sweeps of cedar bogs on the eastern shores of Lake Memphremagog, in northern Vermont. It was easy to take the natural beauty I was surrounded by for granted. Whether it was canoeing through the marshes or fishing in the South Bay near Newport, it always felt like this type of experience was everywhere. When the views of the cliffs of Willoughby or the moose sightings in Norton or Brighton's Wenlock Natural Area were everyday experiences, you didn't realize you were growing up in a television special. But now, as an adult I have an opportunity to bring those experiences to others. A Northeast Kingdom warm weather vacation is a can't miss experience for any traveler. The opportunities for outdoor recreation, sight-seeing, great eateries and unique shopping abound.
The hard part here, for me, has been selecting some of the best opportunities to tell you about. There are so many potential spots to visit, it has been hard to narrow those down. For all my Kingdom friends, sorry if I missed any of your favorites. While I've recently been working on a hiking/ walking/ snowshoeing guide to the area, a few important hikes have really jumped out to me as favorite's to many. The hike of Mt Pisgah on the shores of Lake Willoughby provide one of the best view sheds in the state. A geologic wonder shown in classrooms everywhere to demonstrate the power of glaciers. Here the glaciers split one mountain into two, creating Mt Pisgah and Mt Hor and in the middle, one of New England's deepest lakes, going down over 400 feet and these cold waters helped to create the legend of Vermont's fur-bearing trout. The elevation of Mt Pisgah is 2,785 feet and you can often view flights of the nesting Peregrine Falcons from the cliffs atop the mountain. Wheeler Mountain in Sutton, Vermont is a great half-day hike which provides views of the area that are probably unsurpassed, including the view of the Willoughby watershed and views far north into Canada and down to Camel's Hump in central Vermont. Several rocky scrambles and short rock chimneys near the top bring you onto a bare summit offering 360 degree views. For those looking for nature walks, Moose Bog and Molly Beattie Bog in the Island Pond, Vt area offer great opportunities to see wildlife, some beautiful views and feel and hear the true silence of the area away from the bustle of everyday life.
For those looking to experience mountain biking, Kingdom Trails, one of the premier mountain bike facilities in the world is based out of Burke, Vermont. This system of trails is a true testament to community involvement, conservation of land and a grand vision for creating an outdoor recreation environment that runs summer and winter. Relationships between private landowners, Burke Mountain Resort and Ski area, and many other local businesses have helped to create one of the best experiences on a bike around, whether you are a beginner or a very advanced rider there is everything you need right here to have a great time. My son and his grandfather have experienced these trails several times and are always looking to go back.
Canoeing is a major past-time in the Kingdom, a canoe trip on the Black River starting in Coventry, Vt will lead you after several miles into the expanse of the South Bay in Lake Memphremagog, an incredible body of water, part in the US and part in Canada, there is also great fishing throughout this flatwater canoe trip out to the lake. The Clyde River in Derby offers some great whitewater canoeing opportunities in the spring and early summer and I remember my first canoe race on the Clyde like it was yesterday. The Nulhegan River in the area around Island Pond is a beautiful stretch of the 740 mile thru-canoe, Northern Forest Canoe Trail. The Nulhegan river is also some of the very best trout water in the Kingdom, so don't forget the flyrod.
Swimming is available all over the place in northern Vermont, but a few of the best are Brighton State Park on Island Pond, the beach at Lake Seymour, and Prouty Beach in Newport, Vermont. We offer guided Moose tours through Gibbs Guides, some of the very best places to find moose on a consistent basis is in Norton, Vt and in the Wenlock Conservation area near Island Pond. We also offer guided fishing tours and hikes in this area, especially in the Silvio O' Conte wilderness, the Nulhegan Basin and the Clyde River / Memphremagog watershed. The Clyde River is one of the only rivers around that flow north.
The Kingdom is full of great restaurants and it was impossible to pick all of the best, so here are just a few of my favorites. The Eastside Restaurant in Newport, Vt has always served great food since I was a kid and their lakeside location offers direct access by boat and some great views of Memphremagog. The Essex House in Island Pond, Vt offers some of the best dining anywhere, I've never been disappointed with a meal from here. Mike's Tiki Bar in Burke is affiliated with Kingdom Trails and is one of the best places around to sample some of those great Vermont micro-brews everyone talks about. Also on the weekend's there are several food trucks that pull up to the Tiki Bar offering really interesting choices! Parker Pie in Glover, Vt has become almost famous for it's tremendous combination of fun atmosphere, awesome pizza and great craft beers and you may remember Glover as the home of the Bread and Puppet Theater.
There are many great places to stay in the Kingdom, from Burke to Island Pond and to Newport and Derby, the options are plenty. But Gibbs Guides can help you with a perfect place to stay. Two options are available, a two bedroom, full kitchen, one bath option that sleeps five, and a full house, 4 bedroom, two bathroom, two kitchens, option that sleeps up to nine people. Both are lakefront on Spectacle Pond, in Island Pond, Vermont. A nice beach, gorgeous views, a fire pit and kayaks are available on site, rates are very affordable and it is a very private environment. Your view is of the small lake and an undeveloped Native American Reservation and a State Park. I've placed some pictures of the property below. Incredibly beautiful and peaceful, it is the perfect place to stay, central to all the great opportunities the Kingdom has to offer. Feel free to contact me through my website, www.thegibbsguides.com , for this vacation rental, as well as for vacation consulting and guiding services that I offer both in this area, as well as in Central and Northern New Hampshire. Please subscribe to the blog at the top of this page to get future updates!
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