A Day in the Northern Kingdom

A sampling of what visitors can enjoy in the northernmost points of Vermont's Northeast Kingdom

Nestled between the Green Mountains and the Connecticut River, Vermont's Northeast Kingdom offers breath-taking scenery, outstanding lodging and dining, ecotourism and agritourism, Vermont made products, a rich diversity of art, and recreational opportunities which have gained the Northeast Kingdom national and international recognition.

A very special part of the Northeast Kingdom, Essex County, and it's many communities and natural offerings, are revered by residents and visitors alike for its lovely countryside, abundant natural resources and the preservation of traditionl landscapes and lifestyles that have made the Vermont experience one to be cherished. To follow are just a few of the many offerings of this special region within the Kingdom.

 

1. The Silvio O. Conte Wildlife Refuge

The Nulhegan Basin Division, part of the Silvio O. Conte National Wildlife Refuge, was established to protect the diversity and abundance of native species within the 7.2 million-acre Connecticut River watershed. An extensive road system gives visitors the ability to experience the rugged quality of the Division and access to scenic vistas, perfect for wildlife dependent recreation. For the more actively inclined visitor, wooded pathways and stream courses can be used to hike off the roads for a deeper backwoods experience. The Lewis pond overlook provides a scenic vista of the Nulhegan Basin and the surrounding mountains. The Mollie Beattie Bog interpretive boardwalk provides visitors with information on bog habitat and wildlife.

2. Island Pond, Vermont

Island Pond, located in the Town of Brighton, has earned a reputation as a beautiful and tranquil Northeast Kingdom community. Perhaps one of Vermont’s best kept secrets, Island Pond’s natural beauty includes pristine Island Pond Lake, the historical village, and the Bluff Mountain area. Together they provide many opportunities for relaxation and recreation throughout the year.

With miles of trails and wide open spaces Island Pond has come to be known as the Snowmobile Capital of Vermont. However, in the summer travelers can also enjoy other outdoor activities including fishing, hunting, swimming, hiking, biking, canoeing, horseback riding, ATV riding and more. In the warmer months residents and visitors alike look forward to their weekly music series, Friday Night Live, and their Independence Day celebration featuring a parade, music in the park, arts and crafts, vendors, games, fireworks and more.

3. The Connecticut River Paddlers Trail

New England’s longest waterway, the Connecticut River, and the Connectuicut River Paddlers Trail, provide over four hundred miles of canoe and kayak exploration and you can plan your route to start in the northern-eastern most town in Vermont, Canaan. The town of Canaan is a picturesque community located directly on the Connecticut River. It is bordered by New Hampshire and Quebec and many consider this small community be in reflective of the character of yesteryear Vermont. Canaan is a wonderful starting point for multi-day journey along the river with a put-in located just below the Canaan to West Stewartstown Bridgeit is a great place to start your Connecticut River adventure!

4. The Mostly Moose Cycling Tour

The Mostly Moose cycling tour is conisdered by some to be one of the most beautiful, quiet and enjoyable road cycling tours in Vermont!  Some cyclists have reported seeing up to four moose without hardly looking when exploring this extended tour loop. This cylcing tour taks you through Island Pond, Norton, Canaan and along the beautiful Connecticuit River.  You will also pass by the Visitor Center for the Silvio O. Conte Wildlife Refuge so be sure to plan some time there to explore!  The Mostly Moose loop features fairly level riding north and south and moderate hills east and west. Energetic beginners should make a two-day trip out of this one. More advanced riders can complete the loop in a day, given enough time and daylight.  Directions: Departing from the junctions of Rts 114 and 105 in Island Pond, ride north on Rt 114 through Norton to Canaan. Take Rt 102 South to Bloomfield, then Rt 105 West back to Island Pond.

5. April's Maple

April’s Maple is a perfect example of the way the agricultural tradition has evolved. April Lemay and her family make maple syrup and sugar on 800 beautiful acres that have been in her family for generations. Just as their ancestors did, April and her family put in long hours turning thousands of gallons of sap into syrup. The way of life hasn’t changed, but today April’s remarkable products reach people who would never have had a chance to taste them.

See it for yourself—April warmly invites visitors to visit the farm. In her own words it’s a “place where you can relax, enjoy Vermont around you and meet my family—hardworking Vermonters who love their job of helping you to make the best of today.” Try freshly made maple sugar, maple cream, candies, crunch, maple cotton candy and maple sugared donuts. To work all that off, take a hike or bike on the trails of the 800 acres. And when you get back, have a scoop of Gifford’s ice cream. Which pretty much makes for a perfect day in Vermont.

6. The Hearth & Home Country Store

The Hearth & Home Country Store is one of those wonderful boutique shops that you could spend hours exploring. The store itself is small and cozy, however, it is absolutely filled to the brim with wonderful treasures ranging from the unique and eclectic to must-have household staples like Yankee Candles and Stonewall Kitchen products. Located on Mountain Street in Island Pond, the Hearth & Home Country Store also carries a wide variety of souvenirs to help you remember your time in this very special part of Vermont's Northeast Kingdom.

7. Jackson's Lodge

Located on the shores of beautiful international Lake Wallace, historic Jackson's Lodge has been a favorite destination of savvy vacationers for decades. If you're looking for a relaxing getaway, a fun-filled family vacation, or just want to get away from it all,  a visit to Jackson's Lodge will allow you to experience the best that a rural Vermont vacation has to offer.  Relax and settle in to one of their cozy log cabins, stroll along their beautiful sandy beach, enjoy a sunset camplfire and catch up with your loved ones or friends. If you don't have time to stay the night, but you are in the area, Jackson's Cafe, located within the Lodge, is a local favorite for genuine homemade country breakfasts.

8. The Northern Lakes and Mountains

We will let you in on our little secret. The waterways of Essex County host some of the best fishing and paddling opportunities in the state. Here canoeists and kayakers can find calm waters for a pleasant cruise, while more experienced paddlers can find faster-moving rivers to challenge them.

Listen from a lakeside cabin for the call of the loon. Watch in quiet wonder as a moose takes a drink from the lake. Essex County hosts both the Connecticut River Paddlers Trail and the Northern Forest Canoe Trail. It is also home to Island Pond, Little Averill, Great Averill and Wallace Lakes to name but a few. These northern lakes, ponds and waterways are one of the Kingdom's best kept secrets!

Explore more of the Northeast Kingdom and plan a getaway.