Favorite Back-roads Series–Pomfret and Cloudland roads loop

Fall splendor alongside Pomfret Road.

Fall is here, and the colorful foliage that Vermont is known for is close to full bloom at the October Country Inn.  Everybody wants to be here during the “peak,” when the colors are the brightest.  But “peak” is a moving target.  Generally, “peak” foliage colors move from north to south, and from higher elevations to lower elevations.  Given this movement, the best strategy for viewing fall colors is to drive around.

Pomfret and Cloudland roads loop.

Another reason to drive around is that you will often find that stands of vibrant colored foliage occur in pockets–you’ll drive around a corner and be stunned with a burst of color that will take your breath away.

There are many little known back-road routes in this area to choose from.  Just wander around, don’t be afraid to take dirt roads, most are in great shape and will reward the adventurous sightseer with an endless series of postcard quality views.

One such route just outside of Woodstock, is to take Pomfret Road to the top of Galaxy Hill and Cloudland Road back down.   Begin this 15 mile route at the Billings Farm on Route 12 just north of Woodstock.

Vermont hill farm alongside Cloudland Road.

Driving north out of Woodstock on Route 12, go past the Billings Farm where it intersects with River Road.  Less than a mile further, leave Route 12 by taking the “Y” to the right onto Pomfret Road.  About 2 miles further, Look for the Teago Store.  Follow Pomfret Road by turning right at the Teago Store and  wind up the hill for a couple of miles.  Just before the top, next to an apple orchard, take Galaxy Hill Road to the right.  This short dirt road passes some impressive real estate before intersecting with Cloudland Road.  Take Cloudland Road to the right and begin down this dirt road.  The Appalachian Trail crosses near the top.  Keep on Cloudland Road until it intersects with River Road.  Turn right at River Road and arrive back at Billings Farm and Route 12.

There are many such routes in the area.  This will give you a flavor of what to expect.  Be adventurous.

The Crown Point Road–Vermont’s first interstate highway

In 1759, the British Government surveyed, constructed, and paid for Vermont’s first interstate highway.

Named the Crown Point Road, it was built during the French and Indian War because, following England’s defeat of French forces at Forts Carrilon and St. Frederic on Lake Champlain, British General Jeffery Amherst, wanted to pursue the French into Canada, but desperately needed to replenish troops and supplies.  Amherst needed a quicker route to Crown Point than using the slow and cumbersome passage up the Hudson River and through Lake George with all the overland portages that route required.

Granite marker placed alongside Route 131 in the town of Amsden.

For centuries, native Americans in this area had followed the waterways leading from Canada to the coast.  One of the most-traveled routes connected Lake Champlain and the Connecticut River following Otter Creek and the Black River.  Coincidentally, this footpath led from Amherst’s strategic position at Crown Point, New York to an important military post, Fort No. 4 on the Connecticut River.  Using this route, Amherst tasked Captain John Stark, commanding Rogers Rangers, to cut and mark the road which was then constructed, and served to aid the British during the remainder of the French Indian War.

During the American Revolution, Colonial militias, schooled by the British during the French Indian War, turned the tables on the British and utilized this road to their own advantage, contributing to the ultimate British defeat.  After the Revolution, this road played a huge part as a conduit for the great influx of settlers coming to the area to establish many of the towns and homesteads that still exist today.

Bronze plate alongside Meadowbrook Farm Road in the town of Reading.

Although much of this road has grown over, there is still a wooded trail, with stone markers placed along the way, that runs from Charlestown, New Hampshire to Chimney Point, Vermont.  The Crown Point Road Association, organizes hikes along this historic route from time to time.  Check their website for more information.

Morning’s at OCI always start with a generous helping of Edie’s granola.

We buy oats in 50 pound bags.

Although it may not have been true in Grandfather’s day, today, home-made granola in the morning is living the country life at its best.  No breakfast is ever served at the October Country Inn without a generous bowl of Edie’s home-made granola on the sideboard.

Ingredients are:

  • 8 cups of whole oats
  • 2 cups of shredded coconut
  • 1 cup chopped pecans
  • 1 cup sliced, toasted almonds
  • 1 cup raisins
  • 1 tablespoon ground cinnamon
  • 1/4 of a nutmeg, freshly grated
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 cup Vermont Grade B maple syrup
  • 1 cup Canola oil

Mix ingredients with mixing paddles in a large bowl.

First, whisk oil and maple syrup together.  In a separate large bowl, mix the oats, coconut, nuts, cinnamon, salt and nutmeg together.  Add the oil/maple syrup mixture and combine with a couple of mixing paddles until oats are evenly coated.  Divide the mixture in half and spread out each half on a  parchment covered 1/2 sheet baking pan.  Toast in a preheated 350 degree oven for about 15 minutes, stirring every 5 minutes.  Keep an eye on it.  Sometimes the oats brown more quickly than others. Remove the pans from the oven after the oats have

Out of the oven and cool, raisins have been added to one pan, and will be added to the other.

browned and set on cooling racks.  Stir in the raisins when cool and store in an air tight container until breakfast time.   Of course, Edie always makes a double batch.  We go though a lot of granola here at the inn.  You can also make a double batch if you’ve got the oven capacity.  To keep it fresh, store frozen in air tight freezer bags.