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Foliage tour of Vermont

by Philip Greenspun, 1998


My friend Bill, with whom I built the Scorecard system, grew up in Vermont and here's his personal tour. He actually grew up in Northern Vermont, so there is a bit of a bias in this tour.

Leave Boston via I-93 to I-89. Exit after about 3 hours to Randolph Center and go north to the wooden floating bridge (over a lake, right in the center of town) at Brookfield.

Graniteville, Vermont Continue north to SR 64 and go east about 15 miles to Graniteville to visit the quarries, 19th century granite mines dug by immigrants from Eastern Europe and Italy. The mountains have been dragged down into huge rock piles that spill into peoples' back yards.

Make sure that you give yourself an hour to tour the operating Rock of Ages quarry:

and then the nearby factory where the Vietnam Memorial was built and inscribed.

Head into the town of Barre. The city cemetery is a museum of America's finest granite carving, made by anarchist Italian stone cutters starting just before World War I. Note: the anarchist history of the town is interesting; Barre was actually governed by anarchists for three years.

Go north on SR 14 until you see a dirt road leading to Kents Corner and North Calais (pronounced "Callous"). Kents Corner is a classic three-building New England farm crossroads. North Calais has a town meeting hall on the edge of the lake.

Hardwick, Vermont. Favorite spot for running fitness author Jim Fixx, who died of a heart attack while running around this curve, just east of the Village Motel on US 15. Proceed north back to SR 14 to Hardwick. My favorite item of Hardwick trivia is that Jim Fixx, best selling running fitness author of all time, collapsed and died while running fifty feet north of the Village Motel on US 15. He was 52. Bill notes that there is an excellent Spaulding Gray monologue on the down and out nature of the town, but he's not sure how to get hold of it.

Take the back road NE to Greensboro and have lunch at the Greensboro Inn, also an excellent place to stay (and swim in Caspian Lake). Get a good map and wind through the back roads to E. Craftsbury, Craftsbury and Craftsbury Common. These three towns are classic New England villages, the unspoiled version of Woodstock. Craftsbury Common is a National Historic Site and was the set for the Hitchcock film The Trouble with Harry.

Take the dirt roads NW to Eden Mills (foliage per se), south on SR 100 to Eden and go west on SR 118 to Belvedere Corners, then south on SR 109 to Waterville. Look around Waterville until you find the covered bridge and incredible waterfalls. Take a back road east to Johnson. Along the way, stop to view Ithiel Falls on the Lamoille. Go east on SR 15 to Hyde Park and check out the Lamoille County Shiretown.

Backtrack on 15 to Jeffersonville and take SR 108 over Smuggler's Notch down into Stowe. Optional: toll road or gondola to the top of Mt. Mansfield. If you're lonely for things Austrian, follow the signs to the Trapp Family Lodge, west of Stowe, a tourist center but a nice town in its own right. Go NE to Hyde Park and stay the night at Ten Bends on the River (802-888-2827; tenbends@pwshift.com), Bill's favorite inn.

At this point we lose Bill's advice.

Greenspun says to slowly take SR 100 south to Warren, then west over the Lincoln Gap to South Lincoln and Ripton. Then cut back over SR 125 to 100 and continue south. Stop at the Calvin Coolidge birthplace and operating cheese factory (run by Cal's grandson). Take 100 all the way south to SR 9 and go east to Brattleboro (worth a stop to see what a livable city is like ).

Farm, just south of Brattleboro, Vermont. On your way south from Brattleboro, stop in Vernon to have a look at the Vermont Yankee nuclear power plant in Vernon, just upstream from an older, but still operating, hydroelectric dam. Call (802) 257-5271 at least a week ahead of time to arrange a tour of the nuclear plant.

Old Hydro

Hydroelectric plant on the Connecticut River in Vernon, Vermont. Hydroelectric plant on the Connecticut River in Vernon, Vermont.

New Nuclear

Vermont Yankee nuclear power plant. Vernon, Vermont. Fans on a spare transformer at the Vermont Yankee nuclear power plant. Vernon, Vermont. Transformer. Vermont Yankee nuclear power plant. Vernon, Vermont. Cooling system at the Vermont Yankee nuclear power plant. Vernon, Vermont. Cooling water flowing out of the Vermont Yankee nuclear power plant and back into the Connecticut River. These concrete structures are designed to aerate the water and make it more useful to the life of the river. Vernon, Vermont.

Take 91 to Rt. 2 home to Boston. If it is mid-October, you might want to stick around town to see the Head of the Charles regatta.

Images Copyright 1998 Philip Greenspun. PhotoCD scans by Advanced Digital Imaging.

Article created 1998

Readers' Comments

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Leslie Sundell , October 04, 1999; 10:23 A.M.

The great thing about shooting foliage in Vermont is that there are no billboards to get in the way. In addition to Phil's posted tour also check out the (free) auto tours listed at central-vt.com. These tours get you onto the back roads without getting lost. If your into covered bridges there are 107 of them in Vermont; check out vtliving.com for a listing of them. Finally go into foliage-vermont.com for the progress of the foliage throughout the state.

I just spent Friday in Montpelier, peak foliage doing the Horn of The Moon auto tour. Watch out for the frost heaves and keep your speed limit at 15 m.p.h. and any car (I drive a T-Bird) can make it through these roads, it's worth the trip

Dick McGuire , September 04, 2000; 01:01 A.M.

Vermont hwy 100 is also named The Grand Army of The Republic Highway and has some very lovely scenery in southern Vermont.The town of Weston is very nice and the Civil War monument on the village green is poignant ,especially for Civil War buffs.

MaryBall Pierson , November 04, 2001; 10:45 A.M.

Having lived in Stowe, VT (Mt. Mansfield) for 10 years...I'd like to add how important it is to take those back roads!! There is a multitude of interesting roads off of Rt. 100 and most of them lead you right back to Rt. 100.. You almost can't get lost. They will take you to wonderful farms, round barns (Warren VT), covered bridges (Stowe and Waitsfield), interesting vistas, not oft shots of New England Churches (Stowe), beautiful huge maple trees arching over dirt roads and in the fall...metal maple cans galore. PS Love the fall shots on this page!!

Doctor Moth , September 28, 2002; 01:01 P.M.

Interesting article, I believe the Spaulding Grey monologue on the town you mention is in "Monster in A Box," an independent film (not sure if it's still in print, and I doubt it's on dvd) basically about Grey's working vacation to complete a screenplay and the horror's that plague him while in Vermont. I've just begun photographing ALL the covered bridges in Vermont this past week, and have finished 19 of the 107 bridges, although the foliage as of this Saturday (the 28th) has been less than breathtaking. Hopefully, it will improve by the middle of this next week as I am hoping to do an additional 19 or 20 in the next few days. The bridges themselves are in various states of mostly disrepair, several of them completely closed to vehicular traffic, and many of them are marred by modern traffic signs, warnings etc. To get decent shots of them you must wade into, or skirt the streams or rivers that flow under them, and even then some have major repairs made to them that use dis-similar woods, so the repairs are often glaringly obvious. But Vermont this time of year, foliage or not, can be breathtaking. Lots of farms with horses and cows, and mountains or hills as a backdrop. I'm hoping to start seeing some signs of pumpkin life in October.

Doctor Moth , October 08, 2002; 08:48 P.M.

Update as of October 8th, 2002. Completed five days of travel in Vermont (and an additional one in New York's Adirondack Park), total covered bridges photographed 38 plus one reproduction (out of 107). Foliage as of today is exceptional in the Northeast Kingdom, with several places actually slightly past peak, the Lake Willoughby-Burke Mountain areas SPECTACULAR with oranges, browns, reds, yellows and various shades in-between. The Lake Champlain corridor on both sides of the lake are getting there but nothing like interior Vermont. On the NY side as of 6 days ago, the Tupper Lake, Mt. Arab, and Little Tupper Lake areas are excellent, lots of super intense reds. While traveling Vermont I have seen wild Turkeys, (one dead deer), Hawks, Turkey Vultures, domesticated horses and cows of every description, sheep, Canada and Snow Geese, lots of moose crossing and moose warning signs (but no moose), donkeys and/or jackasses, EMU's (on a farm) and a million other things I've forgotten. Also, round barns, square barns, a fantastic 1812 16 sided Church/Meeting House (16 sides to keep the devil from hiding in the corners, I'm told), an increasing assortment of pumpkin ghosts, devils, witches (some crashed into telephone poles, windows, doors, etc. I have only a couple more days to visit until next year, so hopefully, the leaf peeping will continue along with lots more to photograph.

Doctor Moth , October 20, 2002; 11:41 A.M.

Eight day trips in Vermont ended today, 60 Covered bridges photographed, 47 to go, colors peaked and starting to go by, with lots of blowing leaves today. Highlights so far, Moss Glen Falls on route 100 with a fantastic waterfall, the first ALIVE deer I've seen all year running along the road near ST. Albans, several hawks (broad-winged?) enjoying the scenery, the wonderful people of Vermont who've I talked too, all singularly interesting and helful, and gracious. Except for this pecular ticket booth lady at the ferry Crossing (Vermont side) to NY, who I've managed to catch in a terrible funk/attitude three times! On the way home today, managed to catch an after dark tour of HAUNTED FORT TICONDEROGA (in Ticonderoga, NY). A delight, absolutely pitch black tour of a fantastic 250 year old historic fort supposedly haunted by dead soldiers, with costumed recreators at every turn scaring the beegesusus out you. Much fun, and only held the two weekends before Halloween apparently. Possibly one more day in Vermont before winter arrives, will finish the remained Bridges next spring hopefully.

Doctor Moth , November 15, 2002; 09:27 P.M.

Unbelievably, persistence and the desire to get this project done drove me on 13 trips to Vermont this fall and I photographed all of the remaining covered bridges. I didn't know it when I started but there are only 106 left, one having left this world in a microstorm in Oct. of 2001. Overall a wonderful experience, and although I have traveled through Vermont I never stopped and smelled the roses until this Autumn when I covered what seemed very much like every square mile of the State. If you are interested in obtaining a cd-rom containing 106 different Vermont covered bridges photographs email me at doctormoth@aol.com

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