November 17th, 2016

The 5 Best Hidden Gems in Vermont

The 5 Best Hidden Gems in Vermont

Heading to Vermont on vacation? Make sure you add these must-see stops to your itinerary.

Some people might argue that Vermont is off the beaten path. This small state shares its northernmost boarder with Canada, and its largest city, Burlington, has a population of only 42,000 people. Vermont is well known for being the birthplace of Ben & Jerry’s, the home of 2016 presidential candidate Bernie Sanders, and a major producer of maple syrup. But, what most visitors don’t know is that there is a treasure trove of hidden gems beyond any “mainstream” attractions, just waiting to be discovered in the Green Mountain State. You might have to go a bit out of your way to find them, but they’re worth the extra effort. So pack your bag, head north, and get ready to hit up some spots that most tourists miss. Visit between May and September if you want to go hiking and swimming and stick to the winter months if you're a skier. 

Slayton Pasture Cabin; Stowe, VT

Slayton Pasture Cabin is a cozy, log cabin that is tucked away at the top of Stowe’s Trapp Family Lodge. It's a perfect winter refuge for Nordic skiers and snowshoers. And the three-mile (roughly five-kilometer) journey from the ski center is worth it. Once inside, visitors can warm up by the roaring fireplace, and the rustic kitchen serves hot chocolate, hearty soups, and homemade sandwiches. The cabin is open from 10:00 a.m. to 3:00 p.m. in the winter months.

Dog Mountain; Saint Johnsbury, VT

You’ll need only a small pack and your favorite four-legged friend to explore Dog Mountain. This 150-acre (.24-square mile) mountain-top oasis is covered with hiking trails where dogs and their owners can roam freely—no leashes required. In fact, dogs are not only welcome here, but they’re also honored. Artist Stephen Huneck and his wife even built a Dog Chapel for families to pay their respects to their pets that have passed.

Cochran’s Ski Area; Richmond, VT

With only three lifts and eight trails, Cochran’s is one of Vermont’s smallest and most unassuming ski areas. But that doesn’t mean it’s sub-par. In fact, it’s is where ski legend and Olympic gold medalist Barbara Ann Cochran and her siblings trained before joining the United States Ski Team. If you ski at Cochran’s, you just might bump into Barbara on the slopes or in the lodge—and when you meet her, she’ll be happy to tell the tales of her path to Olympic Gold in 1972 in Japan.

Snake Mountain; Middlebury, VT

There’s no shortage of hiking trails in Vermont, and Snake Mountain is a great one for hikers of all abilities. This 4.1-mile (6.6-kilometer) loop takes the average person approximately two hours to hike, and the first half mile (nearly one kilometer) is mostly flat—the trail is an old carriage road that’s wide and easy to follow. From the summit, you’ll enjoy 180-degree views of the Adirondack Mountains and the Lake Champlain Valley, and you’ll pass Red Rock Pond on your descent. Pack your day bag with bug spray, snacks, and water and then head out to explore for the day.

Emerald Lake State Park; East Dorset, VT

For a landlocked state, Vermont certainly has its fair share of lakes and swimming holes. One of the best sandy beaches is located on the shores of Emerald Lake. Motorized watercraft aren’t allowed, making it an ideal spot for swimming and paddling. Visitors can also rent canoes, kayaks, and paddleboards. Just be sure to bring along your Wet Zip Pouch to store your bathing suit after your day in the water.

Have you been to Vermont? What's your favorite spot in the state? Share your thoughts in the comments below.

Related Links (from Eagle Creek blog):

Best Mountain Bike Trails in US

Going on a Kayaking Trip? Here’s What to Pack

America’s 6 Best Winter Hiking Trails

by Dana Freeman

Dana Freeman is an entrepreneur, freelance journalist, and the editor behind Dana Freeman Travels. She is a travel enthusiast from Vermont who is always up for an adventure in a new location. Follow her travels on InstagramTwitter, and Facebook.