For those winter travelers looking for an outdoor activity this winter that is easy on your budget and will get your heart pumping, we have a secret in our backyard. Since the Appalachian mountain “gaps” or highway passes over the Green Mountains close over the winter, they make a great avenue for winter hiking and advanced sledding.
A great place to try out winter hiking and sledding is Mount Philo. Looking out over the Lake Champlain basin, the little knoll in southern Chittenden County offers epic views and a fun winding trail up and down the hill. After sliding down, we recommend that you have a pint (or growler) at Fiddlehead, a pie at Folino’s Flatbread, or go for a wine tasting at Shelburne Vineyard.
For those adventurers brave enough to give it a try, the section of road that traverses Lincoln and Warren, known to locals as the Lincoln Gap, is worth every heartbeat of the hike up and the adrenaline rush down. Some come to sled, others to back country ski, and some even to hike up on snowshoes to Mt. Abraham (accessible by the Long Trail which runs across the top of the pass).
I recommend using a hard plastic sled or a “jump jack” reconfigured ski sled, rather than an inflatable tube, as you can better control the speed and direction. The 20% grade is ridiculously steep, and at the top, it pitches to a punishing 24% grade. The pitch of the mountain road will really get your speed up, so it’s important that you wear a helmet. Clearwater Sports in Waitsfield rents Mad River Rocket sleds for $15/day. They also offer a guided “Rocket-Shoeing Adventure” snow-shoe-and-sledding day trip up Lincoln Gap with the rocket sleds for $55/person.
When you’re ready to warm up, we recommend getting a pint at the Bobcat Café or setting up at the delightful bar at Mary’s Restaurant, in Bristol. For guests who want to relax by the fire at our Vermont Bed and Breakfast, the new owners at the nearby Jerusalem Corners Country Store have revamped their menu and now offer delicious pizza, soups and sandwiches to order.
Winter is a great time to visit because the tourism scene is quieter and the local-food scene is always in season. There are great beer and wine tours nearby, and guests can enjoy tasting the artisan flavors of handcrafted spirits.
Many of our guests inquire about visiting local cheese makers and we are excited that the International Cheese Festival has just announced their 2018 festival dates, August 11th & 12th. You can also explore our interactive google map to view listings of local cheese making farms and tasting rooms.
We are also looking forward to the upcoming Maple festivals that make visiting at this time of year extra sweet.
Need an excuse to visit? We’ll be happy to help you craft one.