Vermont's Little Grand Canyon: Quechee Gorge
Nicknamed "Vermont's Little Grand Canyon", Quechee Gorge is nestled between Woodstock and Hartford, Vermont in the quaint town of Quechee. A beautiful wonder of nature carved into the land by glaciers many years ago, this gorge is a must see along Route 4.
The Quechee Gorge Bridge, originally built in 1911 , allows Route 4 to cross over the gorge, providing a stunning view. There are sidewalks on either side of the bridge, granting a relatively thrilling walk, high above the gorge.
A perfectly situated hiking trail affords "gorge-ous" views of the Ottauquechee River. With multiple scenic overlooks, each about 165 feet above the gorge, there are many opportunities for snapping photos of the sparkling, emerald waters below.
It's only about a half mile hike down to the base of the gorge, making it a fairly simple trek. The most strenuous part of the hike is walking the half mile back up the hill to the visitors center, which for seasoned hikers, will likely be a piece of cake. For those of us less agile folks, it is certainly doable, it just might take a little while longer. Thankfully there are a couple of lookouts with benches along the route, perfect for taking a quick breather, and surveying the beautiful landscape.
Another trail gives you the option to hike upstream to the top of the gorge. Up there you'll find Dewey's Mill Pond, a dam, and even some waterfalls. I didn't get a chance to hike up that way while I was there, but I certainly will next time I am in town.
The magical part about a visit to Quechee Gorge, is that it can take as little or as long as you like.
It is incredibly easy to pull off into one of the available parking areas, hop out of the car, walk the short distance to the bridge, snap a few photos, walk back to the car, and be on your merry way within just a few short minutes.
Another option is to pack up a lunch and hunker down at one of the many picturesque picnic areas available. You could even head down the hiking path and settle down at the bottom of the trail. After about a 10 minute hike downhill, you could enjoy your meal on the bank of the peaceful river.
If you aren't interested in bringing along your own picnic, there is a small snack shack on the premises. Although, I'm not sure how much they have in the way of vegan food. Just to play it safe, I would recommend bringing along your own snacks!
There is also a decent sized gift shop where you can peruse a variety of locally made knick-knacks and artifacts. While you're there, you'll also find my personal favorite: Pure maple candy. I definitely recommend getting some of that. To me, it's not a trip to Vermont unless you leave with at least a few pieces of genuine Vermont maple candy! The best part is, it's totally vegan!
Last but certainly not least, there is an opportunity for camping at Quechee State Park. I personally have not stayed here yet, but it is something that I hope to do soon. According to the Vermont State Parks website, there are 45 tent/trailer sites, as well as 7 lean-to sites. Restrooms and shower facilities are available, too! It seems like the perfect place for an overnight stay. (State parks are awesome!)
A nice weekend visit to Quechee State Park could even include a little exploration of the area beyond Quechee Gorge itself. Nearby Hartford and Woodstock have plenty to offer. Just a quick Google search, and you're good to go! Restaurants, shops, farms, and factory tours; There's truly something for everyone.
For a really handy map of the Quechee Gorge State Park Trail System, and to learn a little more about the geology of the gorge, check out this pdf from the Vermont State Parks website.
However long you may plan on visiting, I hope you take a moment to really appreciate the beauty of this epic, local landmark. Photos really don't do it justice. It is truly an amazing sight to see.
So, what are you waiting for? Start planning your adventure to Vermont's Little Grand Canyon, A.K.A, Quechee Gorge!
Leave a comment and let me know what you think! You can also tag me in Instagram photos of your visit with "@poorandvegan."