A Local’s Guide to Central Vermont
Words and Photos by Kelby Zimmerman
It’s about the journey, not the destination. Road trips serve as a true embodiment of this saying. We are all guilty of finding ourselves in a hurry from point A to B, yet we know some of the best memories come from the unexpected interim. Having moved to Vermont just over a year ago, the charm of the journey has become more apparent than ever. Acclaimed restaurants and breweries span multiple miles apart. As such, some decent consideration should be taken in planning a trip around here. It took a bit of time for me to uncover the true gems one can’t find via online research. In fact, I’ve caught myself saying more than once, “Vermont is just not Google-able.” What’s more, locals aren’t eager to divulge their top recommendations. The best spots are often those hidden from touristy crowds, after all. A year of observation and word of mouth helped me discover these destinations and the lesser-known routes to get to them. Grab a friend and a few snacks. Buckle up and experience my local’s guide to Central Vermont, beginning in Quechee.
Quechee has a few spots I like to visit frequently, one of them being the Quechee Gorge. The bridge can be busy with tourists, but I nevertheless suggest walking it, rain or shine. Some of the best views of Vermont’s Little Grand Canyon are caught on the cloudiest, foggiest, most drizzly of days. Be on the lookout for an occasional hot air balloon floating by, especially in early morning. I suggest going a bit further than most visitors do - under the bridge. In the 1700s, this once wooden trestle bridge attracted onlookers from all around the world, itching to see a train loftily glide across the gaping gorge. Today, the bridge’s industrial replacement is just as admirable from the paths that run along the ravine’s sidewalls.
Continue on through Quechee, past Simon Pearce and toward the Taftsville Covered Bridge. You’ll come across a couple charming barns before reaching Deweys Landing, a picturesque spot to stretch the legs, take a walk, and let your pup out if you brought him or her along.
Continue over the red covered bridge onto Route 4 toward Woodstock, one of the quaintest New England towns imaginable. Behind the Woodstock Historical Society, you’ll find a small park with the absolute best view of Woodstock’s covered bridge.
Drive past the jersey cows at Billings Farm and turn left at the Golden Cow Barn onto Cloudland Road, where you’ll be tempted to stop every few minutes and take in the views. Aerosmith guitarist Joe Perry’s old home, Sleepy Hollow Farm, will be on your right. You can recognize it by his guitar shaped pond. The Appalachian Trail also crosses the road further up.
Following the trail to the left a bit will lead you to a panoramic view of the Green Mountains. Driving to the top of Cloudland Road leads you to Cloudland Farm on your right. Grab a cut of their grass-fed Angus in the market or snag a dinner reservation at their BYOB restaurant. At the very least, admire the beautiful view from their wraparound porch.
Head back down the road and drive toward the Barnard General Store via Route 12. I recommend grabbing some snacks or coffee and picnicking across the street on Silver Lake. Continue on Route 12 and turn left on 107 toward the Pittsfield General Store, a hip country store with topnotch, locally made goods. An email to owners Kevin and Katie could score you a dinner reservation at The Backroom, an intimate 20-seat restaurant behind this very store.
Continue onto Route 100 and find Kent Pond to your left. Locals love taking in the sites by land, canoe, or paddle board here. As you turn left onto Route 4, you’ll see the entrance to Killington. The mountain opens for the season in late October, and the slopes already look set for (what we hope to be) an epic winter. Route 4 will take you back to Woodstock.
Farmhouse Pottery and the Woodstock Farmers’ Market will be on your right as you head toward town. Poke into both and grab what you fancy. Jasper Hill’s Harbison and blue cheese sausage are my top picks from the market! If you’re feeling like you need to stay the night after an eventful day, reserve a room at the Jackson House Inn. Otherwise, I suggest stopping by Woodstock’s Hops N’ Barley on your way back. They have an awesome selection of Vermont beer and cider to bring home with you. If I’m talking to a true beer advocate, Lawson’s Finest delivers Sip of Sunshine every other Monday at noon.
Grazing cows and weathered barns are abundant. Rolling hills and sprawling pastures surround the roads that wind with the river. All in all, there are so many sights to see on your way from point A to B. View Vermont in a new light and enjoy the ride!
The Central Vermont Loop
Quechee Gorge Village
5573 Woodstock Road, Quechee, VT
Taftsville Covered Bridge
Woodstock Historical Society
26 Elm Street, Woodstock, VT
1101 Cloudland Road, Woodstock, VT
Barnard General Store
6231 VT Route 12, Barnard, VT
Original General Store
3963 VT-100, Pittsfield, VT
Killington Ski Area
4763 Killington Road, Killington, VT
Woodstock Hops N’ Barley
446 Woodstock Road, Woodstock, VT