After my first Vermont weekend road trip with my new roommate gave me a somewhat restricted sample of what Vermont was really like, I knew I had to come back on my own and just wander the wilderness. I probably spent at least six Saturdays or Sundays aimlessly driving around and exploring the bottom third of Vermont, eighty percent of which is encompassed by the GMNF.
I never went to Vermont with a solid itinerary. With a map and a general direction in mind, I just drove in whatever direction pulled me most. One day I felt like getting some exercise, so I headed toward the Appalachian Trail. If I felt like shopping, I would take a road with a lot of small towns near it. If I felt like enjoying scenery, I looked for a road to a mountain peak. A lot can be inferred from a good map.
Green Mountain National Forest is so large that it encompasses more than just natural parkland and campsites. Small towns with antiques, unique shops, and original general stores with penny candy and homemade baked goods are the gems of the region. You never know when you’ll turn around a forested corner, cross an original wooden covered bridge, and find a local farmer selling his own Vermont honey, maple syrup, or cheese from an honor box the end of his driveway.
The national forest itself is dotted with many roadside day parks with any combination of picnic tables, latrines, and grills. I noticed very few people taking advantage of these roadside parks, so you shouldn’t have a hard time finding one all for yourself. Of course, camping by tent or RV is available in designated areas. A few outfitters rent canoes, kayaks, and boats for the many streams and small lakes, or you can bring your own boat. Hunting and fishing requires a permit. Every length of hiking trail imaginable crosses through some part of GMNF; Long Trail and Appalachian Trail are the most famous ones. Some trails can be used for mountain biking, day hiking, backpacking, and horseback riding. In the winter, people can cross country ski, snowmobile, and snowshoe. A few farms also offer horse drawn sleigh rides when the snow is deep enough.
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August 15, 2005
From journal Daytripping in Vermont's Green Mountain National Forest
August 18, 2001
From journal Beauty in New England