Connecting with nature is what summer is all about when you’re a child. While my family is fortunate enough to live in Vermont and enjoy the outdoors year-round, it’s not always easy to slow down and take full advantage of everything the state has to offer.
To escape the daily grind, my husband, daughter, and I decided we needed to get away and headed to Stratton Mountain for three days in June to hike, fly-fish, swim, and unplug. We also figured it would be a good time to sign Phoebe up for her first-ever day camp with Stratton camps—an experience that has turned out to be a major highlight of her summer.
Summer camps at Stratton, for kids ages 4-18, include everything from swimming and golf to tennis and dance. We registered Phoebe for the Adventure Camp for kids ages 4-5 year. For two days, Phoebe and four other little campers searched for frogs, picked wildflowers, swam, and bonded over circle time and art activities. Led by two outstanding counselors, Phoebe and her new friends learned ways to explore and respect nature, which is the heart of Stratton’s camp program.
“We spend the majority of the day outside, so a love and respect of nature is something we try and instill in our campers,” says Devon Paskewich, junior programs manager at the Stratton Mountain Sport School. “Also, being outside allows us to be active, and we try and encourage the importance of this lifestyle in our campers.”
Stratton has been offering kids camps for more than a decade, and the resort opened up its Adventure Camps to 4- and 5-year-old children last year. Older kids can enjoy also camps offering tennis, kayaking, hiking, golf, and more.
“It’s a true mountain camp and we fully utilize this beautiful resort around us,” Devon says. “We hike, we bike, we kayak, we play tennis and golf, and we build forts in the woods. It’s our staff and their energy that makes this an all-around great place to hang out during the summer.”
Hiking, Kayaking, Paddling, and Fishing
My husband and I are not used to having time to ourselves while we’re on a family vacation. But with Phoebe signed up for two full-days of Adventure Camp, Dave and I were able to explore the mountain and surrounding area that is largely made up the Green Mountain National Forest.
Hiking at Stratton
Stratton Mountain was the inspiration for The Long Trail when James P. Taylor was on the slopes of Stratton in 1909 and envisioned a trail linking the Green Mountain peaks “to make the Vermont mountains play a larger role in the life of the people.”
With an elevation of 3,940 feet, Stratton is one of the highest peaks in southern Vermont. Hiking from the base of the mountain offers easy to moderately challenging terrain with stunning views along the way. From the base, we meandered our way to the summit along ski trails by way Lower Standard to Interstate to Upper East Meadow to Mike’s Way, about 1.7 miles each way.
A fire tower at the top of the mountain, built in 1921, offers panoramic views of Somerset Reservoir, Bromley Mountain, the Taconic Mountains, and Berkshires. If you have young kids with you, take the gondola to the summit and explore nearby ski trails at the top of the mountain.
Grout Pond is a 1,600-acre recreational area in the Green Mountain National Forest that’s open for camping, fishing, canoeing, swimming, and hiking. The area includes primitive camping sites and 12 miles of trails, which circle the pond and connect with Somerset Reservoir. The pond is located off Kelley Stand Road/Arlington-Stratton Road, about 20 minutes from Stratton Mountain Resort.
Roaring Branch is a tributary of the Battenkill River along Kelley Stand Road, south of the ski area. About 10 miles long, it is known as a productive stream for brook trout, rainbow trout, and brown trout. Narrow and rocky, Roaring Branch is good for fly-fishing or a quick dip to cool off.
Stratton Pond is the largest body of water on the Long Trail, and the most heavily used location on the Appalachian Trail in Vermont. The area is popular for hiking, fishing, and camping—but you need to hike in a bit to access it. To get to Stratton Pond, follow Mountain Road to Kelley Stand Road/Arlington-Stratton Road and look for trailhead parking.
Where to Eat
The couple behind the James-Beard nominated SoLo Farm and Table opened Honeypie in June—just in time for the summer season. Located in an old gas station on Route 30 in Rawsonville, Honeypie is the creation of Wesley and Chloe Genovart. Their new local food, fast-food restaurant offers a tasty selection of burgers, lobster rolls, chicken sandwiches, house-made sausage sandwiches, fries, beer, wine, soft drinks, and milkshakes. Visit www.eatathoneypie.com.
If you’re looking for a more upscale dining option, Verdé will not disappoint. The menu includes locally raised meats, game and poultry, along with the freshest seafood available, as well as a diverse wine list. Located in the Landmark Building in Stratton Village, Verdé also offers small plates and prix fixe options. Visit www.verdestratton.com.
Mulligans first opened at Stratton in the late 1980s in the heart of Stratton Village. The food is standard fare—sandwiches, burgers, pasta, steak tips, nachos, beer and margaritas—and it’s a good place to bring kids. My favorite part of Mulligan’s is the outdoor deck—a perfect setting for people watching and soaking up the summer breeze. Visit www.mulligans-vt.com.
Where to Stay
Across the street from Stratton Village is the Long Trail House, offering studio and one-to-four-bedroom condominiums. Conveniently located within walking distance to the base of the mountain, the condos come equipped with a full kitchen, living room, gas fireplaces, and comfortable bedrooms. Guests of The Long Trail House have access to a nearby pool and hot-tub.
For information about visiting Stratton or signing up for Stratton camps, visit www.stratton.com.
For a full list of summer camps at Vermont resorts, visit skivermont.com
We love it here!
Erica Houskeeper is a writer and communications professional with nearly 20 years of experience. She grew up in Manchester, Vermont, and started skiing at age 4 at Bromley Mountain. She also spent her childhood skiing at Stratton, Magic, and the former Snow Valley ski area. After working as a journalist in Vermont, Erica later became director of communications for the Vermont Department of Tourism and Marketing. In 2009, she launched www.happyvermont.com, a Vermont travel blog that explores the places and people of the Green Mountain State. Her blog has hundreds of subscribers and a loyal following. Active on social media, Erica has more than 2,400 followers on Twitter (@EricaHouskeeper), as well as many Facebook friends and a growing audience on Instagram. She currently works as a communications and PR consultant, and lives in Burlington with her husband and young daughter.