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World-class outdoor destinations like Vermont don’t just come out of nowhere. Well-maintained trails, clean rivers, equal access, habitat restoration, and even the hidden swimming holes Vermont is famous for – all of these conveniences come with volunteers and paid professionals who put hours and lives into the cause. It’s a work that engages communities, stimulates the economy, and preserves outdoor spaces for generations to come. Would you like to see the result of all of this on your next visit to Vermont? Here’s a sample to get you started.
Share a river
Since 1952 the Connecticut River Conservancy fought for the river that separates Vermont and New Hampshire. It was a fight, but now the river is clean enough to swim in all its way through Vermont. In addition to organizing cleanup, bank remediation, and dam removal in the Connecticut tributaries, the Conservancy is making a major push towards access to recreation. “Because the river flows through rural Vermont,” says Kathy Urffer of the Conservancy, River Steward for Vermont and New Hampshire, “it has traditionally been difficult to access. But because you only protect what you know and love, we are working to change that. The river is the largest untapped recreational opportunity in the region. ”
Plan your visit: Today it is possible swim the entire Connecticut River (from its headwaters near the Canadian border to Long Island Sound, with portages of course), camping at 50 special places along the way. For shorter excursions in Vermont, paddlers should aim for the faster-flowing stretches under dams and try to end the day at a campsite before the next portage. Down in south Vermont? Try this out Stebbins Island campsite below the Vernon Dam.
Help everyone play
Participation in adaptive sports was troubled before the pandemic due to improvements in equipment, access, and instruction. With Vermont fully open again, the programs are more popular than ever. “People want out these days,” says Kim Jackson of Vermont Adaptive. “In adaptive sports, the whole family brings along when you bring out a family member.” Here is Vermont Adaptive Ski and Sports In Numbers: This year, with the help of 400 volunteers, 100 of whom are seasoned professionals teaching outdoor ripping to people of all abilities, 3,000 excursions in adaptive sports and programs will be made possible. Equipment includes traditional and adaptive bikes, skis, snowboards, and water sports equipment. These 400 volunteers generate 24,000 hours donated each year. “The volunteers are college students, doctors, retirees, recreational coaches, and physical therapists,” says Jackson. “Without them we couldn’t do it.”
Plan your visit: In the winter, Vermont Adaptive operates out of the Pico and Bolton Valley ski areas – and a new 4,000-square-foot facility on the Glen Ellen side of Sugarbush. In summer, you can practice water sports on Lake Champlain. Mountain bikers in the Mad River Valley can make their choice: Vermont Adaptive has a fleet of vans loaded with adaptive and traditional bikes to shred on.
Save swimming holes
If the Vermont River Conservancy (PRC) was founded 26 years ago. The mission wasn’t to protect entire watersheds, but rather to save Vermont’s legendary swimming holes. It’s vital work: If you’ve been to Vermont in the summer, you know that swimming pools rule the state during the warm months. But the hideouts are threatened by development and by those who may not understand Vermont’s legacy of public access to private land. Today, the Vermont River Conservancy – although it has expanded its work to include climate protection, habitat restoration, and access to waterways – is still battling for swimming spots. Almost a hundred have been saved while educating users on how to take care of them. “We are increasingly competing with the open real estate market,” said Steve Libby, executive director of PRC. “But it’s worth it. Vermonters and visitors alike have enjoyed these places for generations.”
Plan your visit: Every swimming hole is important, but they are End of the journey Waterfall and swimming hole in Johnson is essential. And it was almost lost. Today, however, thanks to the rapid action of the Vermont River Conservancy, the 25 acre site and 1,900 foot boardwalk are owned and administered by the City of Johnson. “We had dozens of partners and more than 120 individual donors,” said Richarda Ericson, deputy director of VRC. “Every swimming hole has a story.” Looking for other hidden treasures? Check out these six unique swimming spots in the state.
The northeastern kingdom of Vermont is known for not being famous. Here you will find deserted places and remote, pristine forests. But the kingdom should also be famous for the conservationists it raises. That Northwoods Stewardship Center started offering outdoor training for the youth of the region in 1989; Today, with 117 employees (including 60 high school students in the summer) and 1,500 acres of woodland they maintain, Northwoods is built on four pillars: environmental education, forest maintenance, conservation, and the all-important conservation corps that is on its way across makes the state and region to build the path, restore habitat, plant trees, remove invasive species, and create starting points. “All of our programs are mutually feeding,” said Maria Young, executive director of Northwoods. “I’ve seen kids who were campers grow up to be corps crew chiefs.”
Plan your visit: In 2010, Northwoods Conservation Corps youth teams dug a trail in remote Essex County. Today, after 20 field sessions and the work of 120 local youth and young adults, there are now 32 km of hiking trails in the Kingdom Heritage Trail Network. “Improving access to wild places is a big part of our work,” says Maria Young of the center. “We want locals and visitors to see these less-traveled parts of Vermont.”
Riding on the railways
In rural areas of the state, something Vermonters does very well is repurposing the past for today’s needs. For example, taking old train lines and turning them into outdoor assets for walking, running, and biking. That was Northwest Vermont’s original idea Missisquoi Valley Rail Trailwhich runs 26 miles from St. Albans on Lake Champlain through Enosburg Falls and on and up to Richford on the Canadian border. today Vermonts Regional Planning Commission Northwest (NRPC) is expanding the possibilities of the trail for the communities along its route with a campaign to publicize the ride and a App (plus physical signage) pointing out restaurants, shops, and community facilities along the way. “The residents want the way,” says Greta Braunschweig, Senior Planner at NRPC. “Now it’s a matter of stimulating the recreation industry and directing traffic to path-friendly stops. It’s a nice way to keep people active. “
Plan your visit: Northwestern Vermont is a dairy country. Every little hamlet has at least one stand that sells the special local version of soft-serve: creemees. with the app in hand and a cruiser bike among you, pick a few cities to combine breakfast and lunch – paddling can also be done on the Missiquoi – then ride a creemee over Enosburg Falls.
Ready to explore?
The above groups, programs, and projects represent only a small fraction of the work done in Vermont – but they span the entirety of Green Mountain State. Don’t forget that each of these areas is surrounded by historic city centers, brewery bars, culinary and craft markets, and more – the end of the road is really just the beginning. Click here to discover endless possibilities for your own Vermont adventure.
Vermont’s nature invites us all to enjoy unparalleled recreational opportunities and scenic beauty. Sustainability and care for nature mean more than 800 clear lakes, 67 breathtaking peaks to explore and a new adventure waiting around every corner. Sign up to get the latest news from Green Mountain State.