Have you ever wanted to sell everything you own and just "take off?" Travel the country's back roads, paddle down a meandering stream, experience breath-taking mountain views, walk among 100-year old trees, and just marvel at America's beauty? That is the dream that my partner, Betsy, and I decided to make a reality. This blog describes our adventure. The food we eat, people we meet, sights we see, and the enjoyment we find in traveling.

Saturday, November 23, 2019

A Little Exploring in Quechee, Vermont

Quechee is a little Vermont town with a deep gorge that draws lots of visitors.  The Quechee Gorge is a 165 feet deep chasm that cuts through the earth to form the deepest gorge in Vermont which is affectionately known as “Vermont’s Little Grand Canyon.”  And, you can really emphasize "little" when comparing it to the Grand Canyon.  Quechee Gorge is one of Vermont’s biggest tourist attractions – not to be outdone by Ben and Jerry's of course.  You can enjoy views of the gorge from a bridge that serves as an overlook or by taking a short hike to the bottom where you will marvel at the deep narrow gorge and can wade in the Ottauquechee River which bisects this 13,000-year old gorge.  Both perspectives are beautiful. 

As this is a big tourist attraction (with over 200,000 annual visitors), you can imagine how busy this spot can be.  Tour buses routinely drop off their load and there is a gift shop and snack shack next to the bridge overlook.  Just down the road a bit is Quechee Gorge Village which is a collection of shops offering Vermont-made fare.  There are toys, maple syrup, distilled spirits, jewelry, candles, alpaca clothes, and our favorite, Cabot Cheese.  Stop in here to try some amazing cheddar cheese that comes in fun flavors like “everything bagel,” “Tuscan,” and “Hot Buffalo Wing.”  The sample bar is extensive and we were full when we left, but being the cheese lover that I am, I still loaded up on a few pounds of cheese. 

East of Quechee is the cute little town of Woodstock.  It’s clear from this pretty little town why lots of people make a stop on the fall tour of Vermont.   Quaint streets are lined with historic buildings covered in fall decorations of pumpkins, mums, and cornstalks.  We saw the sign for Vermont Flannel and had to go in because it was cold and flannel seemed like a great idea. 

For a beautiful walk in the woods head to the Marsh-Billings-Rockefeller National Historical Park – Vermont’s only National Park and the only one in the county to tell the story of conservation history and how land stewardship has evolved in America.  The forest represents one of the oldest continuously managed woodlands in the country so you marvel at centuries-old hemlocks, beech and sugar maples.  There are twenty miles of trails and carriage roads that make for pleasant walks which have you enveloped by brilliant autumn colors.  There is lots more to do in the park other than just hike the forests.  You may want to start your visit at the Carriage Barn Visitor Center where exhibits and a film explain more about the history and management of the park.  There are guided walking tours of the historic 1805 mansion and gardens owned by the Marsh family.  The Billings Farm and Museum is a working dairy farm and rural life museum where sustainable agriculture is in practice.  

When visiting Vermont, you have to go to a maple farm?  We took a short drive north of town to the Sugarbush Farm which not only makes maple syrup but cheese as well.  The farm has educational exhibits of the maple syrup making process, farm animals, a short nature trail through the maple forest and free samples of their cheese and different grades of syrups.  We pulled up right after a tour bus unloaded which made for a quite busy place that we were not expecting. 

If you are a baker, you will want to plan on spending some time at King Arthur Flour.  Their flagship campus in Norwhich (just north of Quechee) is amazing.  I thought I might just buy some “00” flour for making pasta and maybe pick up some pastry bags but we were blown away at what goes on here.  Come hungry because their onsite bakery and café is where you will want to eat.  A viewing hall lets you watch the bakers assemble breads, pastries, deserts, and other mouth-watering items for sale.  You also can take a peek through the window to see what is going on in one of their many baking classes.  They have an extensive list of classes for professionals, home cooks, and kids which last for a few hours to a few days.  Here you can perfect the baguette, create the perfect crème puff, master the meat pie, or learn about the flatbreads of India.  The gift shop at the flagship store is great with an overload of baking supplies, gadgets, cookbooks, mixes, and yes, flour. 

Vermont in the fall is certainly spectacular and the quaint little towns are nice to wander through.  We loved the diversity of things to do in this area and found ourselves pretty busy for the three days we were here. 


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