Elizabeth Bassett, Contributor
There’s nothing like a walk in nature to restore the soul. Take walk in our beautiful state!
Alburg Dunes State Park.
Want to wiggle your toes in a natural sand beach on the shores of Lake Champlain? Get thee to Alburg Dunes State Park, a small beach on the southern edge of the Alburg peninsula where wind and water-driven sand have accumulated. This half-mile long sandy beach is at the northern edge of a long stretch of Lake with predominantly south winds that have delivered sand to the beach. See Vermont State Parks.
Battell and Means Woods
If the Sheldon Museum or the Middlebury Art Museum draws you to Middlebury, take a walk while you are in town. Both of these are short trails accessible from a parking lot off of Seminary Street Extension, east of town. For a longer walk consider walking a segment or two of the 16-mile trail around Middlebury (TAM). More information at MALT, Middlebury Area Land Trust.
Colchester Bog, Causeway and Pond
Rich resources these in our neighbor to the north, Colchester. The bog is adjacent to Airport Park and the Causeway originates at Airport Park and follows the former rail bed that leads across the lake toward the Champlain Islands. Colchester Pond Natural Area is in the north east of Colchester and is contiguous to the Indian Brook Reservoir Park in Essex. Managed by the Winooski Valley Park District, wvpd.org, a 2.5-mile trail encircles the pond on this 694-acre preserve.
Dead Creek Wildlife Management Area
Spanning the three towns of Bridport, Addison and Panton, this 2,858-acre preserve hosts over 200 species of birds and waterfowl over the course of a year. There is a modest amount of walking but fantastic viewing, particularly in the spring and fall. Hunting, fishing and trapping are allowed on various parts of the preserve and the water level is actively managed, so the two one-mile walking trails are not always available. The fall migration of Canada and snow geese is particularly impressive. See Vermont Fish and Wildlife.
One of the highest points along Lake Champlain, at more than 500 feet, Eagle Mountain towers above the shore in Milton. Conserved by the Lake Champlain Land Trust, this 226-acre preserve has a network of trails that total about two miles, most of them in 10 to 25 minute loops. Round trip walk from the parking area to Hoyt Lookout is about one mile, with a 150-foot elevation gain. Please tread thoughtfully as this preserve protects forests of statewide significance as well as rare plants and animals.
Robert Frost Interpretive Trail
Worth the voyage to Ripton, this one-mile gem combines the poetry of Frost, which appears along the trail, with the landscape that inspired it. A shorter segment of the trail is an accessible boardwalk. Frost spent 23 summers in a small cabin not far from here. Part of the 335,000-acre Green Mountain National Forest, the trail crosses a wetland, threads through the woods and passes through open fields dotted with ripening blueberries and huckleberries. The trailhead is on Route 125, 5.8 miles east of Route 7.
Green Mountain Audubon Nature Center
Nestled in the valley of the Huntington River in Huntington, the Audubon Center welcomes visitors on five miles of trails on their 255 acres of northern hardwood forest and hemlock swamp. The Sensory Trail, at 2/3 of a mile, allows those with visual impairments to touch, smell, taste and hear the sounds of field and woodland. More than 100 species of birds overwinter or breed, as do amphibians, and beavers live on this conserved property year round. Open for walking from dawn to dusk. vt.audubon.org. Donations are appreciated.
History Hike via Hedgehog Hill Trail
Besides being alliterative, the History Hike in Little River State Park is one of my favorites in any season. A beautiful 3.8-mile walk loops through woodlands that have grown up since the Flood of 1927 destroyed the hill farms that used to populate these narrow valleys. Subsequently the Waterbury Dam was built on the Little River, and in 1962 the state park was created. Pick up a map and historical guide to the trail at the park entrance. Along the trail you can find remains of these farmsteads: dooryard lilacs and day lilies, butternut trees, wells and two cemeteries.
Another time we’ll progress to the letter “I,” and I’ll have to decide whether to shine a spotlight on Indian Brook Reservoir, Mount Independence or the Island Line. In the meantime, happy trails.