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New England by Heart

Central Mountains

Spotlight map of Central Mountains region Vermont

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Tichnor Brothers post card of Mount Mansfield Vermont

The Central Mountains region is the heart of the Green Mountains and sports Vermont’s highest peaks with Mount Mansfield to the north and Killington anchoring the south. Skiing is king here, and you’ll find plenty of places to do it, including favorites like Smuggler’s Notch, Stowe, Sugarbush, Okemo and Killington. And don’t overlook some of the smaller resorts that dot the area. The season is long, and even spring is most likely to be referred to as the last of the skiing season.

Summer is bucolic and hiking is the name of the game, along with cooling off in a local swimming hole. Fall, of course, brings out the heartbreaking beauty of the mountains, and you’ll want to take your time to enjoy the scenery.

There is no lack of hiking options – trails are everywhere. And you can pair that with driving, stopping for short hikes along the way. This will allow you to explore more of the region, and you’ll find yourself dropping in on pretty little villages with white steeples peeking up through the hills, covered bridges, clapboard farmhouses, and red barns. It’s enough to make you weep. 

Route 100 runs south to north right through the region and is one of the prettiest routes in Vermont. While exploring, stop in at the ski resorts – you can generally take the lifts up for spectacular views and many of the resorts have warm weather attractions like mountain coasters, zip lines and adventure parks, and yes, hiking trails.

Stopping in Waterbury for Ben & Jerry’s (be sure to visit the flavor graveyard) and Cold Hollow Cider is a must. They’re a big tourist draw, but there’s a reason for that. Up the road from there, Stowe has an uber pretty downtown with Shaw’s General Store, Stowe Mercantile and several boutique shops. While you’re there, be sure to drive up through the notch (closed in winter) – it’s a treat.

If you’re like me, and can’t resist a Vermont general store, then hit one or more of these on your trek through the region: Original General Store in Pittsfield, Ripton Country Store, The Warren Store, Lincoln General Store, Jerusalem Country Store in Starksboro, Jericho Center Country Store, and The Elmore Store. A few are off the beaten path and are worth it as much for the cruise through beautiful scenery as for the destination.

And above all, get off the beaten path and onto the back roads – you’ll be wowed at every turn.

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