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Jump Into Summer With These Vermont Hikes 

click to enlarge Groton State Park - COURTESY OF BROOKE BOUSQUET
  • courtesy of brooke bousquet
  • Groton State Park

It's hard for Vermonters to stay indoors when the days turn sunny and warm and the hillsides are bursting with new pops of color. Every spring breeze and trilling birdsong seems to be calling us outside. On these days, nothing is better than a hike.

As you ease into the hiking season, your legs might not be ready for multiple miles and high-elevation climbing just yet. That's why late spring and early summer are the perfect times of year to head out on shorter, low-elevation jaunts. Below are four hikes perfect for families with kids of any age.

Groton Nature Trail, Groton

In Groton State Forest, hundreds of acres of wild woods are dotted with lakes and ponds and laced with miles of hiking trails. One of them is the Groton Nature Trail, accessed from the Groton Nature Center. This 0.6-mile self-guided trail is an easy hike that can be made longer by connecting with several other trails, including the Hosmer Brook Trail, the Little Loop Trail and the Peacham Bog Loop Trail. All of them provide ample opportunities to explore natural habitats, from towering hardwood and fragrant conifer forests to beautiful streams and bird-filled wetlands. Find trail descriptions and maps online (vtstateparks.com/htm/groton-nature.html) or get them at the Stillwater State Park campground office or the Nature Center.

click to enlarge Hiking in Stowe - COURTESY OF STOWE LAND TRUST
  • courtesy of stowe land trust
  • Hiking in Stowe

Weissner Woods, Stowe

These trails wind through a classic second-growth hardwood forest, past relics of a former working landscape, including an old sugarhouse. One crosses a beautiful meadow. Distances range from 0.2 to 0.6 miles, and they can be easily linked together into a number of longer loops. Directions to the trailhead and a map are available on the Stowe Land Trust website (stowelandtrust.org).

Millstone Hill, Barre

Known first and foremost as a mountain-biking destination, this touring center and town forest also offers many miles of hiking trails that showcase Barre's claim to fame: granite. Tromp past enormous piles of discarded stone, take in vistas including deep, water-filled quarries that glisten aquamarine and learn about the natural air conditioning provided by the granite hills. Visit millstonetrails.org for trail maps and descriptions and parking directions.

Knight Point State Park, North Hero

The islands of Vermont feel quite unlike the rest of the state. Miles of shoreline access, seagulls and expansive mountain views of the Adirondacks and Green Mountains reward those who trek to these far northwestern reaches. Visiting this state park is a great way to take in the scenery. Knight Point's open meadows and shoreline forest offer a great, green escape. A wide and easy-to-follow trail loops around the point through a natural area that is home to an unusually diverse plant community. For a map and more information, visit vtstateparks.com/htm/knightpoint.htm.

Tips for Trekking

  • Pack insect repellent and check for ticks after your hike. Long pants tucked into your socks can help keep the little parasites off your legs.
  • Always walk through mud instead of around it to avoid widening the trail, which can cause erosion and harm sensitive plants.
  • Remember to leave no trace by packing out trash, taking only pictures and leaving only footprints.
  • Always bring a map or guidebook so you don’t get lost.

This article was originally published in Seven Days' monthly parenting magazine, Kids VT.

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Sarah Galbraith

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