It’s an especially beautiful late May morning at the October Country Inn (check us out). Patty, our Irish Setter “grand-dog,” is spending the day with us and she needs to run. The solution is a short trip up a nearby back road in the trusty Saturn for a romp and ramble on the farm trails through the woods to Saddlebow rock and back.
Many local farms have been in the same family since before the Civil War. One local was born on this farm, and has lived here for 75 years. Some years ago he put the farm in conservancy, giving up developmental rights in order to preserve the property in its natural state. Although his farm is private property, he invites visitors to walk the farm trails.
Edie and I (and Patty) thank farmer Bill Hoyt for this generosity, and we take him up on his offer, sometimes daily, every season of the year.
We park at a gated pull-off at the north end of the farm. We begin the walk with a heart starting uphill climb through mixed hardwood forest, what Vermonter’s call
“sugarbush.” At the intersection with the loop, we turn right and continue climbing toward a clearing in the woods. At the top we break into a clearing with a good sized pond full of healthy trout that are used to being fed. They come around when you walk out on the dock. A nearby rustic cabin offers an expansive view from the picnic table on the porch.
It isn’t that obvious at first, but the trail winds around the back of the cabin, goes through a moss carpeted canopy of evergreens while it continues to climb in a step wise fashion. The area is strewn with large white quartz boulders.
Our heart rate starts to come down when we reach the intersection with an old cabin trail that goes off to the right. At this point we’ve only walked about one half mile, although Patty has probably run ten times that amount with her continuous forays off the trail in tangential loops.
The trail rolls up and down sometimes following an old stone wall that marks the top border of the farm. After passing a clearing with one of those hundred mile views so typical of Vermont, a rustic lean-to beside the trail prompts all manner of speculation as to when it was built and why. We were glad it was there once. It provided welcome shelter for us to wait out a passing thunderstorm.
It isn’t much further and we break out of a stand of birch into the natural scrub grass clearing where the ledge bedrock comes to the surface. Just up a short hill sits Saddlebow Rock.
From here, you have found a rare piece of Vermont that not many get to experience. Enjoy the view. Look to the east and you can see Mt. Washington on a clear day. Look to the west and you can see Killington’s ski trail network streak down its cluster of peaks and valleys.
We climb down off the rock. This is Patty’s cue that we’re heading back down the trail and she darts off in the lead. Back under the hardwood canopy, we plod downhill to complete the loop and return to the Saturn the way we came. Back at the car, Patty is tired but happy, as are we. We’ve taken a hour out of our day, walked a mile and a half, and feel privilidged to be in a positon to have this option. Visit us at the October Country Inn and you’ll have this option as well.