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VT Outdoor Activities

Northern Forest Canoe Trail Freshet Fest

Northern Forest Canoe Trail LogoTo celebrate the arrival of paddling season the Northern Forest Canoe Trail (NFCT) is hosting its first Freshet Fest on May 9, 2015. Freshet Fest events include:

  • A morning poling clinic, a great skill to learn for upstream travel
  • An afternoon social paddle on the LaPlatte River in Shelburne, VT
  • An NFCT Through Paddler panel discussion in the evening. Through paddlers are individuals who have paddled the entire 740 mile NFCT in one trip. Panelists will include Katina Daanen who wrote the book, The Northern Forest Canoe Trail Through Paddler’s Companion.
  • Also in the evening, a catered dinner and guest speaker Matt Hopkinson who will present “Upstream Challenge: 180 Miles by Canoe.”

Evening events will be held at the Boathouse in Burlington, VT.

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2014 / 2015 Mountain Dew Vertical Challenge Ski Races in New England

We have been remiss and are late publishing the schedule for the Mountain View Vertical Challenge. Five events have already taken place in December and the first week of January. Following are the remaining events in New England for the Mountain Dew Vertical Challenge for the 2014/2015 winter season:

January, 2015

  • January 10, 2015: King Pine, NH
  • January 11, 2015: Cranmore, NH
  • January 24, 2015: Jay Peak, VT
  • January 25, 2015: Burke Mountain, VT
  • January 30, 2015: Cannon Mountain, NH
  • January 31, 2015: Shawnee Peak, ME

February, 2015

  • February 1, 2015: Pats Peak, NH
  • February 7, 2015: Catamount, MA
  • February 8, 2015: Jiminy Peak, MA
  • February 14, 2015: Mt. Southington, CT
  • February 15, 2015: Nashoba Valley, MA
  • February 17, 2015: Mount Sunapee, NH
  • February 28: Bolton Valley, VT

March, 2015

  • March 1, 2015: Sugarbush Resort, VT
  • March 7, 2015: Killington Resort, VT
  • March 8, 2015: Pico Mountain, VT
  • March 15, 2015: Bromley Mountain, VT
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Some Great Fishing Derbies in Vermont

Every year Lake Champlain International (LCI) puts on four great fishing derbies. For those of you who like to win a little money while pursuing your favorite outdoor pastime, you may want to check out these upcoming derbies, the first one of which starts in a little over a week from now.

So head on up to Vermont for some great fishing and maybe win some money while you are at it. . .

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Some Great New England Winter Sporting Events

Winter is officially upon us and Christmas is behind us as we head into the teeth of the winter of 2013/2014. Fret not, though. Embrace the season and take in some of these great winter sporting events across the region. What says winter more than dog sledding and Pond hockey? Okay, maybe skiing, but these are still great winter events:

Picture of Sled Dogs (Huskys)New England 2014 Dog Sled Races

New England 2014 Pond Hockey Tournaments

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Some Great New England Paddles on the Northern Forest Canoe Trail

Northern Forest Canoe Trail LogoOur friends at the Northern Forest Canoe Trail (NFCT) were kind enough to share with us some suggestions for some great paddles that combine a trip on the NFCT with events and attractions along the route:

Fall color should be starting to show in mid-September and the weather should still be beautiful.

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Only at Killington – Ski and then Golf . . .

Here is a unique way to spend Memorial Day seekend. How about a little skiing and then some golf? Well you can do both this weekend at Killington in Vermont. On Saturday and Sunday “The Beast” will be open for skiing. The Superstar Express Quad will be open for advanced terrain only skiing. Late spring conditions prevail – this means “some walking may be required.”

But if / when you tire of that, you can play a round of golf as Killington is opening their Golf course as of Friday, May 24, 2013. This is the only place in New England where you can do a cold-weather and warm-weather sport in the same day at the same place this Memorial Day weekend…

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High Altitude Dinner Adventure – I finally did it!

A couple of months ago, I blogged about High Altitude Adventures in Killington, Vermont and how they offer unique hiking experiences to  snowshoe enthusiasts and novices alike (see: High Altitude Adventures bring High Altitude Fun!). In that blog post I mentioned that I wanted to try their High Altitude Dinner Adventure. Well, I finally did it with some friends and it was so much fun that I wanted to come back and tell you all about it. I’m sure you will want to do it too!

I’ll set the stage by saying that it was perfect weather for our hike – not too cold, not too warm – as the Three Bears would say, “It was just right.” And it was lightly snowing the entire evening; could we have asked for anything more magical? We met our guide, Mike, at the base of the Sunrise Mountain Inn & Resort where we got fitted for our snowshoes. On to our adventure! While the one-mile trail to the campsite is at an incline, it’s gradual and not at all difficult. Imagine hiking through the woods at night with only headlamps to guide your path. You get such a different sense of this environment; one I’ve not experienced before. It was truly wonderful.

Picture of Lighted Tents in the WoodsApproaching the campsite was even more magical because the tents and nearby trees were all outlined with small white lights and the waiting campfire seemed to invite you to sit and stay while. All this with snow lightly making its way down all around – just perfect! There was a group of 12 others, celebrating the 70th birthday of a loved one, who hiked up shortly before we, and who were in the larger tent where the cooking for our feast was underway. Our nearby tent was a bit smaller but very roomy, cozy, and heated! As we entered the tent, the same white lights decorated our table which was nicely set for our multi-course meal to be served by our guide (who took very good care of us, by the way). The High Altitude folks do their best to make your evening extra special with great ambience and service. In fact, they will even carry up your alcoholic beverage of choice – thanks, Mike!

Our meal started off with wine, shrimp cocktail, cheese, a culinary artichoke spread, and crackers, and was followed by turkey chili, soup, salad, shrimp scampi, and more, down to decadent brownies made by one of the guides. Of course, my good friends and laughter made the evening even more fun. Three hours after our arrival at camp (you can head back down whenever you want) we made our way back to the resort base – much quicker going down!

Something to consider as you make your plans: while you can do the Dinner Adventure anytime during the winter months, the best time is March because temperatures are better for evening hikes. In fact, we had originally planned our hike for the end of January, but for the first time ever, it was cancelled because it was expected to go down to 12 below – yikes! Lastly, while many people have caught glimpses of animals during their hike, we did not. However the next day, we did see a huge moose at the edge of the woods on our way home! Awesome…

I promise, if you do this hike, you will have a great time! Be sure to visit the High Altitude Adventures site for all the specifics.

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February School Vacation Outdoor Fun in New England

Picture of sled dogs

Dog Sledding

We have, in the past, highlighted many indoor things to do with kids during February school vacation – aquariums, museums, etc. For a change of pace let’s get outside for some outdoor adventures for this February school vacation. What to do outdoors during the winter? Well check out some of these ideas:

1. Cross Country (Nordic) Skiing
Great exercise and great fun. Nordic skiing does not have a big learning curve, as long as you stay on the easier trails. The scenery is typically awesome, and the exercise and fun are equally awesome! There are 90 Nordic ski areas across the six state region so there is bound to be one fairly close to you.

2. Dog Sledding
What could be better than being pulled along by dogs through a beautiful winter landscape. Dog sledding can be a great and unique adventure for the whole family. There are nearly two dozen places, mostly across northern New England, that can take you out for a dog sledding adventure.

3. Downhill (Alpine) Skiing
The classic February vacation – heading out for a little downhill skiing. Temperatures have been cold so the ski areas can make snow, and there is snow in the forecast. The skiing should be great for February school vacation!

4. Ice fishing
Perhaps not as active as some of the other activities, but ice fishing can be a great bonding experience and catching dinner can be fun and rewarding.

Picture of the Skating Path at Community Field in Holyoke, MA

Skating Path at Community Field in Holyoke, MA

5. Ice Skating
Great fun for the whole family but stay away from the indoor rinks and try out one of New England’s many great outdoor ice skating rinks. You may want to check out the new and unique ice skating path in Holyoke, MA. They have refrigeration so it does not matter if Mother Nature cooperates…

6. Skijoring
A cross between dog sledding and Nordic skiing, in Skijoring you ride the skis while man’s best friend pulls you along. This one is probably best for those who know what they are doing or perhaps with an expert instructor.

7. Snowmobiling
Perhaps not as much exercise but still a great deal of fun. There are nearly 30,000 miles of snowmobile trails across New England. New to the sport? There are many places that can rent you a snowmobile and give you some instruction on how to use it.

8. Snowshoeing
Like Nordic Skiing, snowshoeing has a fairly quick learning curve and is great fun and great exercise. Most cross country ski areas allow snowshoeing and it is typically allowed on hiking trails in most state parks.

Picture of snowtubes9. Snowtubing
No learning curve at all, snowtubing is simply just great fun for the entire family. There are over two dozen places where you can go snow tubing in New England. What are you waiting for?

10. Ziplines and Mountain Coasters
Take the winter version of a zipline canopy tour. Many ski areas offer winter ziplines including Bretton Woods (NH), Cranmore (NH), Gunstock (NH), Jiminy Peak (MA), Loon (NH), Okemo (VT), Smugglers Notch (VT), Sugarloaf (ME), and Sunday River (ME). Mountain coasters can be found at Attitash (NH), Cranmore (NH), and Okemo (VT).

Picture credits: The picture of the sled dogs pulling a sled is by Zeledi from the Wikimedia Commons. It is licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution Share Alike 3.0 License. Picture credits: The picture of the skating path in Holyoke, MA is by Jeffrey Byrnes and was provided to us by the Holyoke Parks and Recreation Department.

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10 Great Outdoor Winter Activities in New England

While it is not yet “officially” winter it is certainly getting colder, and at least in the Northern parts of New England some of the white stuff is starting to show up… We thought we would pull together a list of some of our favorite winter activities presented here in alphabetical order.

  1. Dog Sledding – Dog sledding can make for a unique and fun adventure.
  2. Ice Fishing – A lot of people sit in those little huts on frozen lakes and ponds so there must be something to it.
  3. Ice Skating Outdoors – Anybody can do it indoors. If you cannot find a frozen lake or pond there are many outdoor rinks for ice skating during the winter months.
  4. Off-Road Tours – While technically not outdoors since your are inside a vehicle, these tours from Alpine Adventures sound like a blast. During the winter they run tours Thursday through Sunday and during holiday weeks.
  5. Skiing – Whether it is downhill or cross country, skiing is a great winter outdoor activity.
  6. Skijoring – Think cross between cross country skiing and dog sledding. Not for the feint of heart but certainly unique.
  7. Sleigh Rides – Snuggled under a blanket across snow-covered trails. Romantic doesn’t come any better than this.
  8. Snowmobiling – A great and exhilarating way to get out into the countryside.
  9. Snowshoeing – How do you hike in the winter? With snow shoes on your feet of course…
  10. Snow Tubing – Not just for the kiddies and an absolute blast!

Of course you could always just snuggle up in front of a fire with that special someone and your favorite beverage…

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Vermont Pick Your Own Apples and Other Fruit

Picture of ApplesWe have already checked out pick-your-own in Massachusetts, and New Hampshire, it is now time to turn our attention to the State of Vermont. Some of Vermont’s orchards have already rolled up the carpet on apple picking this year because of the rough spring (warm weather causing flowering followed by frost) which gave them a smaller than normal apple crop. Even with that, there are still plenty of places where you can go to pick apples, berries, and pumpkins. Following is a list of where you can go to pick your own in the State of Vermont:

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