4 Days in Vermont and New Hampshire
May 5, 2007 6:27 PM   Subscribe

I've got 4 days off in mid-June and would like to vacation in New Hampshire and Vermont. I"m interested in light hiking and beautiful scenery, and hotels in the $150-200 range. Any recommendations about what to see and where to stay?
posted by quintno to Travel & Transportation around Vermont (12 answers total) 5 users marked this as a favorite
Holiday Inns back East are a different variety than the ones in the midwest. Concord has a nice one, right in the middle of the 'city'. Civil war flags in the capital building a block away, and the best haircut I have ever gotten in the building basement adjacent (lots of tats on the cutters, but talent sans pariel). Concord is an hour away from Salems Lot, Walden, Boerne National Cemetery, and oh damn you for such a cool vacation you are about to have...
posted by buzzman at 6:34 PM on May 5, 2007

I'm about 90% sure that the kids and I climbed this a couple years ago. Since "the kids" were 6 and 4 and I'm not in the greatest of shape, it must count as "light hiking".

If that range is "per night", you have nothing to worry about. In fact, I'm not even sure where I'd go around my area to pay as much as that.
posted by DU at 6:55 PM on May 5, 2007

The Upper Valley between the two states (VT-NH) sounds like what you're looking for (Hanover, Norwich, Woodstock). The App. trail and the CT river run through there and many ski areas have great hiking during the summer. And, I almost hate to recommend it, but the B&B's might be your best bet for the money; every small historical town has one.
posted by B-squared at 6:56 PM on May 5, 2007

When I was a kid, we'd always stay in the Manchester View Inn. Nice rooms, nice area, and it's off-season, so you'll probably pay less.
posted by fvox13 at 8:07 PM on May 5, 2007

I can second the upper valley as I'm a bit more familiar with it. You should also be aware that southern New Hampshire is where most the people live, but it's not exactly mountains and it's not what you might think of if you're looking for northern New England. If you want to stay in a city in VT-NH, I would recommend Burlington, VT as being far more scenic. But if you don't want to get away OTOH ...

Not sure if this hiking is light enough for you, but the Cabin Lodge at Mt Moosilauke (White mountains) is gorgeous and the hike is a single day. It's maintained by the Dartmouth Outing Club. The outing club maintains a lot of trails in New Hampshire and I am sure could recommend hikes for your liking.

Hanover's a nice town to spend a couple days in, and you could easily leave to do some hiking. I'd just check your schedule because you don't want to be there during Dartmouth College's graduation (which is early June I think). The Hanover Inn is the only posh hotel that might make your budget, that I'm aware of, but again, if it's at graduation you can't get a room.

The Quechee Gorge is in Vermont but also nearby in the upper valley.

The town of Stowe, VT is near Mt Mansfield, the highest mountain in vermont and also the ski area. There's a lot of tourist stuff there, the area is big enough that it won't shut down for the summer. You probably can get a nice hotel here as well.
posted by cotterpin at 8:11 PM on May 5, 2007

The Upper Valley has some terrific hikes, ranging from piece-o-cake to oh-dear-god-it-burns. Mount Moosilauke is one of my favorite ones in the White Mountains, and there are some fairly moderate trails. (The Lodge is also just incredibly cool.) If you're in the Valley, I second the recommendation to touch base with the DOC.

The Dartmouth College graduation is the 10th of June; if you're up that weekend (or the few days preceding it), good luck finding accommodations anywhere in the UV -- everything within 30 or 40 miles of Hanover will be booked solid.

If you're going up after that, though, Norwich, VT (across the river from Hanover) has some great B&Bs and that whole New England feel. Woodstock, VT is also a good bet for such things.
posted by theoddball at 9:19 PM on May 5, 2007

In southern New Hampshire, there are plenty of light hikes as well, starting with one of the most climbed mountains in the world, Mt. Monadnock in Jaffrey. This is a beautiful hike, perfectly reasonable for a day. Other options include the lesser-known monadnocks, Pack Monadnock and Little Monadnock, and Mt. Sunapee, which is a ski area in the winter (and sometimes has its chairlifts running during the summer, should you wish to take a mountain bike up!) You can look locally, too--New Hampshire is around 80% forested, and lots of the small towns have their own hiking trails. Expect these in general to be neither long nor intense, but produce some interesting scenery. [Example. I've been here, it's a nice place to walk out with lunch and perhaps kids.]

Don't feel too limited by hiking, though--New Hampshire also has a lot of lakes, which often are parts of state parks with beaches, boat launches, fishing, etc. etc. Winnipesaukee is the best known one, because it's huge, but Newfound Lake is the cleanest in the world, and Mt. Sunapee comes conveniently equipped with a Lake Sunapee. There are also lots of smaller lakes everywhere. Personally, I almost prefer swimming at lake beaches to swimming in the ocean, as the lakes are warmer and calmer.

For the best of New Hampshire scenery, you would have been best off to go in the fall, climb a mountain, and look out at gorgeous foliage as far as the eye can see. It'll still be nice in the summer, just get yourself out of the cities and suburbs. If at all possible, get a map that shows the road system at a greater resolution than the interstates, and drive through the little towns--there's all sorts of interesting small shops, local restaurants, and old buildings.

And, because, it's the most awesome unknown place in New Hampshire, I recommend Pitcher Mountain in Stoddard. It'll be good in June--a 1/4 mile walk for an excellent view (with fire tower, even!). In August, though, it's unbelievable--the entire top of the mountain is covered with wild high-bush blueberries! As a kid, our family used to go with a picnic lunch and a bunch of tupperware, which we filled with berries before hiking down.

Vermont's nice too, I guess.
posted by Upton O'Good at 10:47 PM on May 5, 2007

Oh, and almost forgot--June in NH means Motorcycle Week in Laconia!
posted by Upton O'Good at 10:49 PM on May 5, 2007

I live in the Upper Valley. Let me know when you'll be in town because I'm doing a fair amount of travelling in June and you're welcome to use my house if I'm not in it (or even if I am, really, but it might not be your idea of a vacation). My suggestions would include Monadnock as others have said and also driving around the Kankamagus highway which is an old touring road with lots of cute litle places to stop, hike and look at neat things. You can also mess around in the Northern part of Vermont and hang out near Smuggler's Notch which is a ski resort area in the Winter and good for hiking and views in the Summer.

If you'll have a car and don't mind driving, I'd recommend getting the Delorme Gazetteer and heading towards anything called a "notch" because it was almost certainly have neat places to walk around and excellent views. If your cost for lodging is by the night you'll have no trouble staying in nice B&Bs or Best Western style hotels anywhere in the state except the fanciest tourist locations (like Warren or Stowe). Feel free to email me if you have other questions. There are a bunch of MetaFilter people who live around here.
posted by jessamyn at 11:07 PM on May 5, 2007

Seconding Mt. Monadnock for light hiking. Yeah, the most-traveled trail is a bit steep but it's short enough that you can take your time (all day, if you like.) There are less-steep, but longer approaches if you want to get away from the crowds. Plenty of reasonable lodging in nearby Keene.

Kanc highway and the area near Moosilauke are good, too. There are plenty of hiking and lodging options as well nearby in the Lincoln/North Woodstock/Franconia Notch area. Check out the Flume Gorge and the area around Cannon Mountain.

Though it isn't exactly a hotel, a private room at the AMC's Highland Center at Crawford Notch runs about $160/night for a single, less if you go for a shared room. That includes breakfast and dinner, activities, naturalist and evening programs. And they say they have free gear you can borrow (call them to get the full deal.) It's pretty centrally-located in case you feel like exploring the Mt. Washington area -- close to the cog railway and maybe 1/2 hour/45 minute drive to the Auto Road. Since the hiking options in the area cover the gamut, staying at a place like this employing folks experienced in recommending activities might not be a bad idea. Also it's not far from Jackson and North Conway, which are both cool little towns.

Now, I haven't stayed at that particular lodge but if the AMC's other facilities the dinners and breakfasts will be ample and satisfying -- not gourmet but just the thing to start and finish a big day out. And the other lodges have always been well-kept, with very knowledgeable staff who take their educational mission seriously. I've walked through the Highland Center before, anyway, and it was definitely clean and nice. One caveat: even with a private room, I think the Highland Center might have shared bathrooms. Oh yeah, there's probably no TV, either, if that makes a difference (damn hippie hikers.)

As for Vermont, lots of good stuff. I'll just mention a couple of spots.

Woodstock is a cool town, just off the AT between Killington and Hanover NH. Lodging probably in the upper end of your price range (though there are plenty of options in nearby White River Junction and Lebanon.) Good access to the AT off Rte. 12, with rolling hikes east and west. The section leading east from Rte. 12 marks the beginning of the Dartmouth Outing Club's territory, and it might just be the best-maintained part of the trail -- it's definitely a joy to walk. You're also close to Quechee Gorge, and the Hanover/Norwich area is nice to check out.

About 15 miles west of there, close to Killington, is the reasonably-priced Inn at Long Trail. It's not the Ritz but the fireplace suites are decently large and clean, they feed you breakfast, and there's an Irish pub downstairs with Guinness on tap and all the standard fare. It's right at the intersection of the AT and Long Trail so it's a good central location for day hikes and, thanks to the recent relocation of the AT, loop hikes. I particularly like the hike up Pico, which is a nice day hike and starts right across the street from the motel (and passes by this neat cabin.) The folks at any of the nearby outfitters (EMS and The Great Outdoors in Rutland are two) are good resources for ideas, too. If you feel like taking it easy, Clarendon Gorge is right on VT 103 about 45 minutes south of the Inn, and offers a swimming hole with a waterfall and a cool jungle-style swaying footbridge.

There's so much to do and see in these two states that I'd try to focus on just one or two spots and try to get back in the future. I've been exploring the area on and off for the past four years and feel like I've just scratched the surface. Email me if you have any questions or want more tips.
posted by Opposite George at 12:50 AM on May 6, 2007

er, but if the AMC's other facilities are any indication...
posted by Opposite George at 12:52 AM on May 6, 2007

If you're staying around Mt. Washington and Crawford Notch, the AMC huts make nice destinations for light hiking. (Disclosure: former AMC employee). The hikes into Lonesome Lake and Zealand are only about 1.5 miles, and both have excellent scenery at the end.

If you're up for more intense hiking, the ridge south of Mt. Washington is one of my favorite places in all the world. One option is to climb up the Crawford Path by Mizpah Hut and continue on to Mt. Eisenhower. On a good day (and don't bother if it's not a good day), you'll get 70-100 mile views, and if you go in June, parts of the alpine tundra will probably be blooming.

Rattlesnake Mountain is a very short and extremely scenic hike with panoramic views of Squam Lake.
posted by ilyanassa at 3:33 PM on May 6, 2007

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