Sunday, January 26, 2014

Leaf Peeping at Vermont's Little Grand Canyon

I've been having some issues with Picasa lately and this post is long over due. Hopefully, Google will fix the problem and I can post a bit more this year. Last fall, the Dudes and I went up to Vermont for a weekend away. We stayed at a lovely resort and day tripped out to local sites. It was rainy most of the weekend but there was one cloudy/misty/drizzly day so we went over to Quechee Gorge (so fun to say!).

One of those new QR codes
Quechee Gorge is a lovely gorge carved by the Ottauquechee River after the ice age. It is 165 feet deep and over a mile in length. It is a major attraction in Quechee, VT and is part of the Vermont State Park system. We pulled up and noticed that there was a new visitors' center.

Visitors' Center

There were quite a few people about as it was prime leaf peeping time. We gathered up the Lil' Dude from the back of the car and loaded up to cross to the Visitors' Center. Inside we used the restrooms, chatted with the center volunteers, and gathered maps and brochures for local things to do. Then we went out the back door to the trails. 

Most people start the hike down the gorge over by the bridge and in the past that is where I have hiked. However, the new center brought new trails. After a quick stop to adjust the kid carrier we entered the woods.

View from the trail

The woods were damp and smelled lovely. I like that earthy post-rain smell. Occasionally, there would be the cotton candy smell of decaying foliage. The trail had some step portions but for the most part it was an easy grade to the main trail. 

Warning Warning!

The main trail pretty much is a straight path down hill. We found all the people there. Some in flip flops and high heels. Some in crazy club appropriate get ups. Others with sensible shoes and warm cloths. It was pretty good people watching. 

Side Trail?

We passed a trail that went to the state park campground and then a new "trail" that wandered into the woods. I'm not sure if it really was a trail as it's not on the maps and not blazed. Perhaps it was for some wood clearing.

Quickly we found the bottom of the gorge and carefully went out on the rocks. The view was lovely but the overcast weather downplayed the brightness of the foliage. At the edge of the rocks we could see the bridge for Route 4. 

Looking up stream to Rt. 4

We watched a family with teenage children get soaking wet. I'm fairly certain I heard the mother tell the kids not to go in the water with their shoes on. But the older son did. The girl took off her shoes. Wonder if he had blisters. I would not want to be in the water. It was definitely cold!

Water in the rocks

View up to the bridge

We chatted with another photographer and his girlfriend. Like us, he had not been there in a few years. We remarked on the changes in the area. 

View downstream

We spent enough time taking photos and decided to venture uphill. On our way up we noticed a mother and son looking up at a tree. I dropped back and quickly spotted what they saw.  


A small woodpecker was making quite a bit of noise. I managed to get a quick picture of it before it wandered up the tree. He was moving pretty quickly. A bunch of city tourists (totally stereotyping here) paused to see what we were looking at. They were unimpressed. 

Fence along the trail
Big Dude grumbled some at the wiggly load on his back. After we got far enough up the trail we let the Lil' Dude out to hike. He was so proud of himself as he went up the big hill.

Big and Lil' (my favorite picture)

He only wanted to go to Big... this picture is a lie

Romping in the leaves

Lil' Dude quickly tired and we needed to carry him. He greatly protested being back in the carrier. We made it to the top where the bridge crossed the gorge. 

trail map

Bridge Plaque

We crossed the bridge to take some photos.

View upstream from the bridge

View downstream

While on the bridge we met a man who was looking down forlornly. He lost his mono-pod over the edge of the bridge into the water below. On the bright side he said he didn't need to worry about bringing it on his flight home. 

When we were done looking around we spent time at the Quechee Gorge Village. It's an interesting mix of shops. We sampled wine, cheese, vodka and had lunch at a dinner. We went to a toy museum and checked out the antiques for sale in the yard. Of course we had to ride the small train that ran around the property.

One day I think I would like to camp there when Lil' Dude is bigger. There are quite a few trails and fun things to do in the area. Quechee Gorge is definitely a nice (but touristy) place to visit. I'm sure we'll be back.


Quechee Gorge is located along the Ottauquechee River in the western part of the town of Hartford. U.S. Route 4 passes through, just south of the village center, connecting with Woodstock and Rutland to the west and with White River Junction to the east.


Quechee State Park

Driving Directions: 

From Jct. I-89 and U.S. 4 (Exit 1): Go 3 mi. W on U.S. 4.

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