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Thursday, Jun 20, 2024

Go Take a Hike! Hit the Trails this Spring

<span class="photocreditinline">Ellie Kroger/The Middlebury Campus</span><br />A river along the Robert Frost Interpretive Trail.
Ellie Kroger/The Middlebury Campus
A river along the Robert Frost Interpretive Trail.

It can be difficult to break out of the Middlebury College bubble. Especially if you don’t like the cold. Whether you’ve felt cooped up all winter or you skied every day, there are so, so many outdoor activities to do now that it’s spring. Here are personal reflections on four different hikes not too far from Middlebury College:

Snake Mountain Hike:

Courtney Crawford/The Middlebury Campus
The view from the top of Snake Mountain.

Two weekends ago I decided on a whim to hike Snake Mountain with a friend. It’s a relatively short drive from the college (about 20 minutes). With access to a car it is easily reachable. We parked at a small lot near the start of the trail. The start of the hike was extremely muddy, so expect to get a little wet, but the farther up we hiked the less muddy it got. There were some small patches of ice and snow along the way, but they were easy to avoid. We went on a Saturday morning, so we passed lots of families, dogs and Middlebury students. It was a great quick escape from campus and the view from the top was pretty amazing. It would have been a great spot for a picnic and the next time I hike it I’ll be bringing some snacks to sit at the top longer. The hike in total took about a two hours (one up and one down).  

The Robert Frost Interpretive Trail:

Ellie Kroger/The Middlebury Campus
A bridge along the Robert Frost Interpretive Trail.

I’ve always been fascinated by Robert Frost, the famous 20th-century American nature poet who lived in Vermont for most of his life. He taught at the Middlebury’s Breadloaf School of English for forty years and spent his free time writing poetry about the Vermont landscape that surrounded him. The Robert Frost Interpretive Trail, one of my favorite spots to wander near Middlebury, gives you a chance to experience this VT landscape for yourself. The trail can be found along Route 125 between Middlebury and Breadloaf. It’s an easy loop: about one mile, mainly flat and takes about 45 minutes to complete. Frost’s poems are mounted along the trail to contemplate, and the trail meanders across and alongside a stream. Plants such as birch trees and wild raisin are identified with wooden signs. During the summer, there are blueberries to pick and the forest is green and lush. In the winter, the trees may be bare, but they create a dramatic contrast with the sparkling white snow.

TAM Class of  ’97 trail: 

 If you’re in search of an easy escape from the Middlebury’s campus, and maybe even hoping for a reminder of a Pacific Northwest-esque landscape, then the TAM ’97 trail near the Knoll is the place for you. After following a field for a bit and crossing a marshy area filled with the croaks of frogs, you’ll duck into a trail shaded by pine trees where you’ll sense a shift: the air is slightly cooler and there is a faint smell of pine. You might have to dodge by a couple inches of pine needle-filled ice, which, despite spring’s increasing temperatures, has been kept frozen in the shade of the trail.  If you make it past the ice, you’ll continue by some fields until reaching the highway, where you can cross to the part of the trail that follows a creek. I really like this part of the TAM because it is easy to get to from campus, but is still an escape from the college.

Mount Abe Hike:

On Sunday, April 7, I did a sunrise hike of Mount Abe. We — myself and CATZ, a group from an early morning workout group that has members from the broader Middlebury community — left around 5:30 a.m. It was light out by the time we got to the trailhead. Mount Abe is in Lincoln, VT, around 35 minutes from campus. The Green Mountain Club has already declared mud season so we hiked up Battell Trail instead of the Long Trail. There was still a lot of snow on the hike. Microspikes (slip-on spikes that lend traction in snowy and icy conditions) were necessary, and, in some places, you could see holes where people had sunk through at least 2 feet of snow. The last time I hiked Mount Abe was in the fall during peak foliage. What had been a slight scramble up rock in the fall had become a steep trek through snow. The top of the hike was as beautiful as always and not too windy. We ate some snacks, took some pictures and then headed down. The best part of the hike was the people that I went with! After our hike we went to Bristol Cliffs Café, ate some breakfast sandwiches and made it back to campus to start homework by 11 a.m.