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How to Plan an LGBTQ+ Vermont Adventure, Any Time of Year

by Kelsy Chauvin

EDGE Media Network Contributor

Tuesday September 14, 2021
Originally published on September 10, 2021

How to Plan an LGBTQ+ Vermont Adventure, Any Time of Year
  (Source:vermontvacation.com)

Visualize Vermont's natural beauty. Maybe you see magnificent autumn colors draped over rolling hills. Or perhaps it's a picture of powdery snow on peaks dotted with skiers. If you love the greens of spring and summer, you may envision hiking and biking along forest trails or kayaking on a tranquil lake.

Vermont's outdoor recreation means different things to different travelers. However, the real secret to appreciating the Green Mountain State is to dive in throughout all four seasons. Activities in Vermont are boundless, from high-energy adventures like rock climbing and snowshoeing; to gentler ways to soak up nature's majesty, like wildlife-watching, golf and camping. Vermont is also at the forefront of accessible activities, where wheel and footpaths, paddle sports, and adaptive skiing display Vermont at its best, welcoming everyone.

FALLING FOR VERMONT FOLIAGE

(Source: vermontvacation.com)

From valleys to peaks, there's no better place for leaf-peeping than Vermont, a state that's virtually synonymous with fall foliage. Of course, there's no wrong place to be when the reds, oranges, and golden-brown leaves start to transform the New England landscape, but the savviest autumn lovers rely on VermontVacation.com's Fall Foliage Forecaster, where they can sign up for weekly foliage reports and scenic-drive suggestions.

Finding the best vantage point depends on your favorite kinds of recreation. Fall boating and fishing on Lake Champlain doubles as a great way to soak in the changing leaves from the water. Nearby hikes up to summit viewpoints are worth exploring (especially with these tips), plus scenic byways can lead to fantastic foliage vantage points.

Between the western Champlain Valley and Vermont's "Northeast Kingdom," foliage gets interactive with ArborTrek Canopy Adventures, where you can climb, zipline, and conquer treetop obstacle courses. Cyclists of all experience levels can plan a day riding the Lamoille Valley Rail Trail or one of the state's many bike-friendly roads and trails. Or discover great camping and hiking, along with some of the state's more colorful (and illicit) history stretching back more than two centuries at Smugglers' Notch State Park.

Check-in time: In Vermont's southwest region, between Bennington and Brattleboro, Woodford State Park is a top overnight choice for its four cabins and 103 campsites (including 20 lean-to sites) within the Green Mountain National Forest.

WINTERIZE YOUR ADVENTURE

(Source: vermontvacation.com)

They say winter in Vermont is a skier's heaven, so decide for yourself by exploring ski resorts and cross-country tour centers across 7,300 acres of alpine terrain, from Stratton and Bromley to the south, up to Sugarbush and Jay Peak in the north. Keep on top of fresh powder alerts with the help of Ski Vermont emails and seasonal travel tips.

Vermont winters bring plenty of outdoor action beyond steep slopes with cross-country skiing on the Catamount Trail, divided into 31 day-tour sections that run the entire north-south length of the state. Or rev up your day snowmobiling on the state's 4,700 miles of groomed trails, maintained and mapped by local non-profit VAST. Rent your ride with the help of the Vermont Outdoor Guide Association (VOGA), which also hosts women's sports lessons, events, and tours.

Winter festivals arrive all over Vermont in time for holiday markets and new-year lights celebrations. LGBTQ+ travelers shouldn't miss Stowe's Winter Pride Festival, Winter Rendezvous (January 19-23, 2022). This blowout celebration brings bonfire cocktails, drag bingo charity fundraising with Dina Martina, and even a winter pool party. (And there's skiing, too.)

[READ MORE: Celebrating Vermont Pride: A State of Freedom and Unity]

Check-in time: Boys'-exclusive fun awaits at Frog Meadow, Brattleboro's countryside bed & breakfast and "massage oasis." But an entirely different kind of accommodation awaits at the Trapp Family Lodge in Stowe, where the hills are alive with "The Sound of Music" and other Austrian-inspired touches.

SPRING INTO ACTION

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When the last maple trees are tapped a few weeks into spring, the Vermont Arts Council has plenty of ways to sample the sweets with its maple and murals tour suggestions. Head to your favorite local maple farm and sugar house with Vermont Maple's handy list, or explore local products at historical country stores like Woodstock's F.H. Gillingham & Sons and The Vermont Country Store (with various locations).

The choices for spring outdoor activities are endless, though hiking is especially prime as the weather warms and buds begin to bloom. (Tip: To avoid wet conditions, stick to lower elevations and south-facing slopes.) For experienced hikers, higher reaches bring the loftiest views, and a rock-climbing adventure may lead you to the pinnacle of Vermont's best vistas.

Check-in time: Indulge in alpine luxury at Topnotch Resort in Stowe, where you can relax in the Green Mountain air and enjoy easy access to outdoor activities, swimming, mountain biking and the Topnotch Tennis Academy.

SUMMER'S WILD RIDES

(Source: vermontvacation.com)

The warmest months bring verdant Vermont to life. Travelers flock to the state's network of trails for biking excursions, conveniently mapped statewide. Mountain bikers can "Plan Your Ride" with a comprehensive rundown of trails by bike type, region and services to help with trip planning.

If you're more heels than wheels, there's no end to hiking routes of all lengths. You can even explore one of the country's oldest long-distance hiking trails in the Long Trail, running 272 miles along the spine of Vermont's spectacular Green Mountains.

Splashy fun is a summer must, on and around Lake Champlain. Take a ferry to enjoy an afternoon on Burton Island, a 253-acre state park. Burlington, Vermont's most populous city, is perched on the lakefront of Lake Champlain and home to the annual Pride Festival & Parade (August 28-September 5, 2021) coordinated by Pride Center of Vermont — which also hosts year-round LGBTQ+ outings. On smaller waterways east of Lake Champlain, female travelers keen to try kayaking and other sports can join women-focused trips with Bold Paths Adventure Tours.

Beyond Lake Champlain, Clearwater Sports will outfit you with a kayak, canoe or tube for a journey downstream on the Mad River. Or spend the day at a secluded waterfall, lake or gorge at one of the many places to swim in Vermont.

Check-in time: Pair your outdoor summer fun with rustic cabin, yurt, and hut lodging, bookable through the Vermont Huts Association.

Ready to plan your Vermont vacation? Visit vermontvacation.com.

Kelsy Chauvin is a writer, photographer and marketing consultant based in Brooklyn, New York. She specializes in travel, feature journalism, art, theater, architecture, construction and LGBTQ interests. Follow her on Instagram and Twitter at @kelsycc.