Into the (Vermont) Wild

Just a few short days ago, our Wild crew made a last minute decision to hit the road and wander into the wilds of Vermont. We set our sights on Stowe and all of its mountain biking wonder. This big, beautiful wilderness checked all of the boxes: great trails, beautiful scenery, and outrageous eats (always good for bribing the little Wild Ones when the going gets tough out on the trails).

Day 1: Perry Hill & BBQ

We started our adventure in Waterbury, VT. The friendly folks at Bicycle Express told us to check out Perry Hill. It did not disappoint. With a pump track at the start and a long dark tunnel under the highway, the little Wild Ones were easily won over. Don’t let the steep start scare you, it gets a bit easier after about a quarter of a mile. We went all the way up and came down Campfire. It was a good choice for the first day with tired travelers.

Wild One on Perry Hill downhill

We followed up the ride with an early dinner at Prohibition Pig. We have been here once before and couldn’t wait to get back. Try the pork rinds, poutine (that’s “poot-seen,” not “poo-teen”, folks), and corn bread. We tried a variety of the smoked meats and balanced it out with a watermelon kale salad. Wow, just wow. Food coma is an understatement. If that wasn’t enough, we couldn’t resist topping off the first day with a Ben & Jerry’s ice cream from the Ben & Jerry’s factory, which is located just down the road. It’s not currently open for tours but you can still grab an ice cream and check out their playground and flavor graveyard (the final resting place of those beloved retired Ben & Jerry’s flavors from the 1990’s and early 2000’s).

Pro-Pig Poutine

Day 2: Summer in Stowe

We have really only visited Stowe in the winter, when the snow covered streets and white Christmas lights might fool you into thinking this a one-season ski town. We found this four-season mountain mecca buzzing with shoppers, bikers, and hikers. We skipped through town, which is just as beautiful in the summer as it was in winter, and headed to Cady Hill Forest. The parking lot is bikeable to town and easy to find.

We took Cady Hill Climb up to Cady Hill Connector then on to Florence. This fun downhill evoked lots of wild (joyful) screams. We took Snake back up to Upper Zog’s, Sap Bucket, the Green Chair Loop, and then Bear’s Lower (which takes you back to the parking lot). These family friendly machine built trails were an absolute dream to ride. Don’t miss the photo op and views on the Green Chair Loop!

The View from Green Chair

We heard rumors of a swimming hole but didn’t have any luck finding it. Instead, we roamed around town until it was time for some grub. We struck out at a few places that only took reservations and were completely booked up for the night. We were told you “can’t go wrong” with any of the restaurants on Mountain Road. We finally settled on Doc Pond’s. We had the house pickled vegetables, market salad, Doc fries (garlic mayo – oh, yum), and cauliflower steak. (Okay, so no one could stand the thought of another meat dish after the literal “pig out” from the night before.) Everything was delicious, including the pineapple margarita. Our only complaint was that it was a little loud and Wild Too spent the meal grumpily covering his ears. Luckily, we were all too tired for conversation anyway.

Day 3: Ghost Town Tour

I hate to play favorites but I think that Day 3 might just take the cake (although, sadly, there was no cake involved). Our search for a local swimming hole and riding combo lead us to Little River State Park. This state park is part of Mount Mansfield State Forest and is located in Waterbury on a serene reservoir. The park offers camping, swimming, boating, and mountain biking. There is a day use fee to enter.

We were surprised to find that the mountain biking trails are located on the site of an old ghost town. The area was settled in the early 1800s by a group of approximately 50 pioneers. The history of these early settlers is beautifully chronicled in a series of historical markers laid out along the course of the trail. The trailside is filled with artifacts, stone walls, foundations, and even an old barn. We were all so fascinated by the town remnants that we bypassed the first and most logical uphill on Stonewall, opting instead for the longer, meandering Dallay Loop Trail. We raced from marker to marker, reading the history about this abandoned community along the way. We finally reached the top and found the downhill trails for mountain bikes. The trails were limited but fun. We cruised down the berms on Hillfarmer to Highbridge then hooked back up with the Dallay Loop Trail to head back to the car. Although the other places we visited had a lot more variety of trails, this place definitely had a fun factor and the added bonus of some history along the way.

Dallay Loop Trail

After riding, we went out in search of lunch. We were surprised to find several nearby places were closed on Sundays. We noticed a crowd outside Maxi’s Restaurant and decided to go for it. We had the usual lunchtime fare of sandwiches, fries, and salads but watching the breakfast (served all day) plates leave the kitchen made me regret opting for lunch food. The pile of huevos rancheros looked particularly delectable. We had the BLT, black and blue panini (roast beef and blue cheese), mushroom Philly, and ideal market salad (it was bigger than Wild Too’s head and he scarfed the whole thing solo). We all left extremely satisfied with this cute little place with a diner vibe. We’ll be back for the breakfast!

We ended our weekend with one last trip to the Ben & Jerry’s factory. It was a hot day and the line was long but the staff assured us that it would move quickly and it did. In no time, we had our ice creams and shakes in hand and were back on the highway for the long journey home.

There’s so much more to explore here that we just couldn’t fit it all into one weekend. I highly recommend a long weekend or more to explore this gorgeous area tucked away in the Green Mountain state.

Stay wild!

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