As we head up the mountainside, the rain we have been driving through for the last hour suddenly turns to snow. By the time we reach the top, the flakes are gigantic and falling fast, and we happily decide that this is an auspicious start to our weekend here.
We have arrived at the Mountain Top Inn & Resort, which is nestled among the Green Mountains of Central Vermont, between Rutland and Killington. It is a treasure of a destination for snowshoers, though snowshoeing is just one of the many things to do here.
Year-round activities are abundant at the Resort, and make use of the 350 acres of pristine wilderness which is cross-crossed with 50 miles of trails. The farthest reaching trail circumnavigates a two mile wide lake, and connects on the far side to the Long Trail, which in turn winds its way through the heart of Green Mountain National Forest.
In the warmer months, hiking, swimming, boating, biking and fly fishing are popular pursuits, as well as the renowned equestrian programs that the Resort boasts. Diane Dickerman, the resort’s Director of Marketing, told us that this type of equestrian centre in relatively uncommon, and therefore draws an international clientele. This year they plan to add additional instructional programs geared toward adult riders of all levels.
Over the winter, besides snowshoeing, there is Nordic skiing, horse-drawn sleigh rides and dogsled tours, and even a handy sledding hill close to the main lodge.
Checking into our stunning and modern chalet, we relax after the long car ride, and enjoy all the comforts of home. The décor is tasteful and inviting, and a large bank of windows and cozy fireplace serve as dual centerpieces to the living room. We can only imagine the view we will be treated to the next day when light returns. For now, just knowing the Green Mountains are out there gives us tingles – it’s like we can feel their energy.
Our weekend plan is to run as many of the Mountain Top Inn’s trails as we can fit in. We want to soak up the views and fresh mountain air of Vermont, and then revitalize with good meals in the Resort’s restaurants, and some relaxation in the chalet.
For snowshoeing, we found the trails provide ample opportunity for groomed and ungroomed outings, and are of varying difficulty. Usually there is a choice between a steep or moderate climb that open to the same breathtaking panoramic views of the mountain ridges beyond. All trails are rated easy, medium or difficult, and are well-marked by name and number. The forest is home to moose, fox, deer, rabbits, and eagles which might be spotted. There are also historical artifacts to seen, like on the New Boston Trail, which is an old stage road (circa 1800) and travels through the remains of a farming community.
Though the multi-purpose trails are shared with cross-country skiers, we are by ourselves for much of the time. Nestled in the trees, the trails are quiet and peaceful, and we enjoy the solitude. We explore happily over the rolling terrain of the mountain top, drinking in the views of the distant mountain ranges surrounding us for miles around.
Returning from the trails, we are able to unwind in “his ‘n her” bath tubs with big mugs of Green Mountain coffee. Then we head to the main lodge to dine. The resort has two on-site restaurants (one casual and one formal) which offer great fare, an extensive wine list, and local Vermont microbrews. Hungered from the exercise and brisk day, we devour a tasty meal of squash soup, artichoke pasta, and Wolaver’s organic dark ale. The restaurant staff, like the rest of the Resort staff throughout the weekend, all goes above and beyond to make us feel welcome with their warmth and charm.
The Mountain Top Inn is family-friendly, with something for everyone to do, and at all skill and interest levels. Accommodations include Luxury and Classic guest rooms, Rustic Mountain Cabins, and Private Mountain Chalets. The Mountain Cabins are pet-friendly, so you can bring Rover along to enjoy the stay.
On our last morning, we wake up early and pull ourselves from the comfortable bed. We enjoy a quick breakfast while looking eagerly out at the magnificent mountains. Then we step out the door and are right back on the trails to fit in a final snowshoe run before heading for home. We’ll take with us some new and cherished snowshoe memories of Vermont.
[Photos, from top: One of the luxurious chalet homes at the Resort; Derrick running past one of the great views; Quiet solitude under the trees.]
For more information on the Mountain Top Inn & Resort, including lodging and dining options, trail conditions and rental rates, please go tohttp://www.mountaintopinn.com.