On crisp sunny winter days we dispense with our duties as quickly as possible to enjoy an outdoor activity. When we can take Toby, our Golden Retriever,all the better. It makes him a happy dog. This week we grabbed our snowshoes and headedto the Long Trail for a hike up Bromley Mountain. The trail-head can be found just south of Route 30 on Route 11 as you head toward Manchester. On the right you can see a parking area where Equinox Snow Tours orchestrates snowmobile rides through the mountains. Park there and walk along the snowmobile trail toward Bromley. The trail-head is on the left. (You can tell this is a foot path). White marks on the trees designate the path, but generally you can tell where the trail leads.It is about 1 1/2 miles to the summit.
You know you are almost to the summit when you cross a ski trail at the top of Bromley mountain. We made friends with a few skiers who were surprised to see us, but couldn’t resist meeting our fuzzy partner. With the short winter day moving into late afternoon we headed back down the mountain into the rich light of a fading sun.
Jamaica State Park
Pet friendly Four Columns Inn is the home of Toby, our robust, lovable and energetic Golden. If not taking a snooze Toby likes nothing more than escaping with his masters through the hills of Vermont, or touring to other places where he always seems to get attention and lots of pats.
One of Toby’s favorite Vermont hikes is beautiful Jamaica State Park, just up the road from The Four Columns. An old railroad bed from the 1800s manicured for hiking parallels the West River and makes a wonderful 2 ½ mile tour to the crest of the Bald Mountain Dam The trail is generally flat, and wide, perfect for a quiet stroll and conversation.
Less than a mile into the hide a picnic table is situated on a platform overlooking the river. This is one of many great spots for a picnic. Before you take off for your hike you can grab a sandwich just across the street from The Four Columns at The Newfane General Store, or The Newfane Creamery.
A bit further is the Overlook loop trail. A little climb and worth the effort for the birds’ eye view of the surrounding hillsides. Another option on up the main trail is the Hamilton Falls trail. This is about a mile climb to see this beautiful waterfall and pool tucked into a deep crevasse in a beautiful wooded area.
Continuing on the trail next to the river brings you to a beaver pond at the base of Bald Mountain Dam. Here Toby likes to take a swim before we climb the switch-back trail to the top. Once you reach the top of the dam, views of Stratton Mountain can be enjoyed. Fresh stiff breezes always make this an exciting vista. Twice a year the gates of the dam open wide to the delight of whitewater kayakers from around New England. The trip to the dam and back is roughly 3 hours or more depending upon your pace. This is a hike we find rewarding in all seasons. Don’t forget your snowshoes or cross country skis in the winter!