A Fall afternoon on the Slack Hill Trail.

Slack Hill Trail vista.

Slack Hill Trail vista.

Summer is over, here at the October Country Inn.  Clear skies and cooler weather usher in the changing of the forest’s colors from brilliant greens to muted reds, oranges and yellows.  This will soon turn to white as the temperature continues to drop and Winter’s snowfall sets in.  We’ve been putting off an afternoon’s exploration of the Slack Hill Trails all Summer, and realized that window was soon to close if we didn’t seize the moment.  The Slack Hill Trails in Coolidge State Park are a short drive from here.  The entrance to the Park is a narrow, steep paved road leading off of Route 100A about 6 miles south of Bridgewater Corners junction at Rt. 100A and U.S. Route 4.

SlackThe trail can be accessed from the Park entrance station, or a mile up the park road across from the picnic area.  The trail is well-marked with blue blazes, and is easy to follow, even when the entire forest floor is covered with a blanket of fallen leaves.  When starting at the park entrance station trailhead, the trail climbs moderately through the mixed hardwood forest for about 1/2 mile when you will come to a marked junction.  A signpost shows the way to a .3 mile spur trail that returns to the park entrance station.  The main trail continues in the opposite direction climbing moderately in places before descending a short distance to a vista overlook near the 2,174 foot summit of Slack Hill.  A log bench invites you to take a break.  The summit of Mt. Ascutney is seen in the distance.

Leaf covered Slack Hill Trail winds through mixed hardwood forest.

Leaf covered Slack Hill Trail winds through mixed hardwood forest.

The trail continues, alternately climbing and descending, for another mile to the picnic area parking lot.  It’s another .8 of a mile downhill along the paved park road back to the starting point for a total loop distance of 3.2 miles.  A 2 mile out-and-back to the Slack Hill vista point option is to start from, and return to the picnic area trailhead.  Or, the loop option can be extended from the point where the trail meets the picnic area road by picking up the CCC trail and following it back to the park entrance station for a total loop distance of 3.6 miles.  The park is open year round, snowshoeing or cross-country skiing is a Winter activity option.  During the Summer, a day use fee may be charged.

Artisans’ Park–a lot of facination within walking distance.

Path of Life gardens overlooks the Connecticut River.

Path of Life gardens overlooks the Connecticut River.

A common breakfast table query from our guests here at the October Country Inn is: “What is there to do around here.”  This question always gives us pause, because there’s so much to do around here we don’t know where to start.  Our typical follow-up discussion would then try to match a local activity or attraction with our guests interests, and if successful, to then provide the necessary logistics including directions.  As is often the case, there may be multiple options from which our guests may choose, each option with its own specific logistics.

pathoflifeArtisans’ Park makes our efforts of being good Vermont ambassadors more efficient by the accidental location of several fascinating attractions within walking distance of one another.  Located between Route 12 and the Connecticut River just north of Windsor, Vermont, the artisans in Artisans’ Park refers to either: Vermont Farmstead Cheese Company, Sustainable Farmer, Harpoon Brewery, Silo Spirits, or Simon Pearce.  The park part of Artisans’ Park refers to either: Path of Life Garden, or Great River Outfitters. That’s a lot of options from a single parking spot.

Longest covered bridge in the U.S.

Longest covered bridge in the U.S.

At the Vermont Farmstead Cheese Company you can learn all about cheese making while sampling from a wide variety of their artisanal and speciality cheeses.  Sustainable Farmer serves wood-fired pizza, as well as offering maple syrup, honey, and other local Vermont products.  Kick back at the Harpoon Brewery and sip one of their cold craft brews.  Step up the kick and sample vodka distilled from local corn at Silo Distillery.  Amble over to Simon Pearce and watch local glassblowers ply their trade.  On you way over to Great River Outfitters check out the longest covered bridge in the U.S. spanning the Connecticut River.  Season permitting, you can kayak the Connecticut River, or wander around the Path of Life gardens.  In other words, a full and fascinating day awaits those who venture to Artisans’ Park.