I woke up about 7 AM and put a load of clothes in the washing machine located in the laundry room adjacent to our suite. During breakfast, we discussed the schedule for our two days in Stowe. We’d planned to ride the Island Line Trail in Burlington tomorrow on our way to the airport, but we decided to ride it today due to possible wind and rain forecast for tomorrow. Looking at the map, we thought we could make a big circle over to Mount Mansfield & Smugglers’ Notch, then down to Burlington, and return to Stowe through Waterbury.
The ride to Mount Mansfield was scenic but narrow. Large boulders lined the road making it difficult to see oncoming cars through the hairpin curves. We passed the trailhead for the Long Trail access but realized we did not have sufficient time to hike, as originally planned. Kay did a wonderful job driving through the fog up to Smugglers’ Notch where we turned around and attempted to find the road that our GPS was telling us to take across to Burlington. Unfortunately, the road was closed so we decided to backtrack to Stowe and over to Burlington through Waterbury.
We planned two days in Vermont so that we could squeeze in some sightseeing. Our first stop was the Cold Hollow Cider Mill in Waterbury. Visitors to the mill store are able to watch part of the cider production process and sample fresh cider. After the apples are picked, they are mashed in large bins and pumped through hoses onto large wood trays that are stacked on a rolling platform. The cheesecloth-lined trays have several circular holes which allow the apple cider to drain as it undergoes a million pounds of pressure. Incredibly, it requires 12 pounds of apples to produce one gallon of cider. After sampling the delicious cider, we purchased apple butter, syrup, and Vermont peanut butter to be shipped back to Atlanta. As we left the mill, we each purchased a cider doughnut (yum).
Hoping to catch the 12:00 tour at Ben & Jerry’s, we scurried back into the car and drove a few more miles south to the famous ice cream factory. The parking lot was packed, but we were fortunate to get tickets for the next tour. The Golden Eagle Resort gave us two complimentary tour passes so we only had to purchase one additional ticket. We browsed the gift shop while waiting for our tour. When the cow bell rang, we embarked on our tour which included a humorous but informative video depicting the history of Ben & Jerry’s followed by a birds-eye view of the processing and packaging area in the plant. We we impressed by the social outreach mission of the company and the fact that every employee receives three free pints of ice cream per day! Our final destination was the taste testing room where we received complimentary samples of strawberry cheesecake ice cream. These samples only tempted us to buy more ice cream; I bought a decedent dark chocolate waffle cone with chunks of walnuts and fudge.
After the cider doughnuts and ice cream, we decided to skip lunch and head to the Island Line Trail. We parked our rental car as close to the north end of the trail as possible and rode our bikes about 1 1/2 miles to where the trail crossed Lake Champlain. The 8 foot wide, gravel-packed trail stretched about 3 miles across the lake to the southern tip of Grand Isle. Riding on the suspended trail was surreal; it felt like we were gliding across the lake.
To our east were the Green Mountains and to our west were the Adirondack’s. Although it was a mostly cloudy day, the view was spectacular! About a mile from the end of the trail, there’s usually a bike ferry which transports bikers and walkers across the narrow channel. Unfortunately, the bike ferry closed for the season the day before our ride. From a distance, we watched a large sailboat crossing through the channel. Turning back to the mainland, we passed Kay who had walked the 2 miles from our parked car. We set a time for her to meet us at the south end of the trail and journeyed on our way.
After navigating a few streets through a subdivision, we reached the paved path which led to Burlington. With periodic views of Lake Champlain and fall leaves displaying their brilliant peak colors, we enjoyed the remaining 10 miles to Oakledge Park, located at the southern terminus of the Island Trail. I think this trail was probably the most unique and scenic ride among those in our Northeast trip.
After a few minutes, Kay picked us up with the rental car and we drove back toward Stowe. On the way, we stopped at the Cabbott cheese outlet near Waterbury. We snacked on the 20+ samples and purchased a few packages of cheese to carry back to Atlanta. Returning to the Golden Eagle Resort about 6 PM, we freshened up before a scrumptious dinner at Harrison’s – the #1 rated restaurant in Stowe.
Joyce and Kay took a walk after dinner while I worked on the blog. I fell asleep with a sense of satisfaction because we completed five more Hall of Fame trails, bringing our count to 18 out of 29.