"Steve Brownlee carved his niche with a paddle. The "almost-native" Vermonter he was 10 when his father, a GE employee, was transferred to Essex and the owner of Umiak Outdoor Outfitters in Stowe was determined, even in high school, that he would pursue a career in outdoor recreation.
These days, he's grateful that, on hearing this, his parents had other ideas for him first. "When I said this is what I want to do for a living, they said, 'That's fine, but we're not going to help you go to college to be an outdoor professional. You need to have a degree to earn money.'"
Brownlee caved and enrolled at Castleton College, where he earned a double degree in business management and marketing. "I got a lot of good, practical programming and business-related skills, but the reality of my college career," he says with a grin, "is that I majored in what was known as the outing club. I was president of the club at Castleton for four years, and we did all the stuff Umiak does: trips, hiking, caving, canoeing, cross-country skiing all that." He credits the outing club with his introduction to programming: "getting folks into the outdoors and educating them to the whys and whereabouts..."
Darin' Erin: River Kayaking with Umiak Outdoor Outfitters
Erin accepts a challenge from the folks at Umiak Outdoor Outfitters to try river kayaking. Umiak has storefront locations in Richmond and Stowe, and outpost locations at North Beach and the Waterbury Reservoir.
Umiak is a full-service outfitter offering retail sales, boat demos, kayaks, paddling and safety instruction, river trips, tours, and more. They have an ACA certified staff and you can test paddle anything in their backyard pond before you buy. With river trips run on the Lamoille and Winooski Rivers, four-mile and eight-mile trips with guided, self-guided or custom options available, and whitewater lessons, Umiak has everything you need to stay on the water."
"If there’s a distinct serenity to picking up a paddle and setting off for the natural wonder of a pristine waterway, Vermont is a paddler’s paradise, with most areas also rich with options for camping. Make it a day on Lake Champlain followed by an evening of fine dining at Burlington’s renowned Hen of the Wood. Or choose a weeklong excursion along the Connecticut River and fend for yourself during your extended cohabitation with the Vermont scenery and its residents.
“The wildlife on our mountain lakes, as well as on our streams, is quite prevalent,” Steve Brownlee, owner of Stowe-based Umiak Outdoor Outfitters, said. “Our guests usually see some form of wildlife on every adventure.”
Umiak offers rentals and tours from its outposts in Stowe, the Waterbury Reservoir, and at North Beach on the Burlington waterfront of Lake Champlain ($25-$45, depending on the length of rental ) see for a list of options and booking information). Additionally, Vermont State Parks offer kayaks, canoes, rowboats, pedal boats, and stand-up paddleboards at dozens of locations across the state ($7-$12 per hour, $40-$50 for a full day, see for a list of availability).
So, whether floating across the expanse of a lake or letting the current of a river be your tour guide, these locations are prime for paddling in the Green Mountain State..."
"We arranged most of our activities through Umiak Outdoor Outfitters. Their partner brands offer everything from dog sledding to tubing and brewery tours. Our first day, a private tour guide took the four of us snowmobiling around backcountry trails. ( through Snowmobile Vermont, located in the same building as Umiak ) The next day, we snowshoed up the mountain and sledded down! We're not talking your basic saucer sleds, these were some sleek sports sleds (say that 5x fast).
It was super cool. A bit of a workout... but really fun.
After sledding, we took the gondola up to the top of Stowe Mountain. We were a little late in the day, so the restaurant was closed, but the trees were covered in a perfect layer of fresh snow, so it was like walking through a Winter Wonderland! What you can't tell in the pictures is I'm basically standing on the edge of a steep cliff. It was the ultimate #DoItForTheGram."
"During the winter months, most people come to Stowe to tackle skiing or snowboarding on the highest mountain in Vermont. But there is so, so much more to this little resort town, and when you realize how much there is to do off this mountain in VT we think you'll fall in love with this magical place all over again. You won't run out of things to do in Stowe, so let's take a look at some other things to do that will make this trip an epic winter vacation spot.
3. Get ready for some horizontal adventures with Umiak!
There are all sorts of tours including dog sledding, snowshoeing, sledding, fat biking, and even brewery tours."
" “Stowe tries really hard to be charming, and it usually succeeds,” says Chad Ummel, a backwoods guide for Umiak Outdoor Outfitters, as we drive down the town’s main drag. Snow drifts down from a dark sky, dusting the roofs of Main Street’s clapboard shops and inns, while pale white lights twinkle from the trees, a postcard picture of New England quaintness. Chad and I have just snowshoed through the woods to an old sugar shack where we warmed our feet by a woodstove and sipped local hot cider, one of a selection of similarly picturesque winter adventures on offer at Umiak. Chad is right about Stowe, of course, but with its myriads of ski runs and abundant restaurants and microbreweries, Stowe has more than just charm to offer... "
37 HOURS IN STOWE, VERMONT: A PERFECT WINTER GETAWAY FOR OUTDOORSY COUPLES
"If you’re looking for an outdoor kit, you need only make one stop in Stowe: Umiak Outdoor Outfitters. This small, unassuming shop is a hub for winter sports enthusiasts, offering virtually any type of rental including snowshoes (rentals around $20/day), skis, extreme sleds ($5-20/day), and more. And, if you don’t know how to use it, the staff is more than happy to provide a primer so you don’t kill yourself!
There’s no shortage of outdoor adventure options in Stowe. I’d recommend grabbing a pair of snowshoes and a trail map from Umiak. Nearby Wiessner Woods is an excellent choice for your first outdoor fix in town, with a small network of relatively short paths, all perfect for a quick, “we’re only here for the weekend” jaunt. There’s no hunting and motorized recreation is off-limits, so it’s an ideal spot for grabbing some peace and quiet and communing with nature.
From there, head to Marshall Hill at Stowe Elementary School for some extreme sledding. Once a beginner’s ski slope, it’s since been converted into a badass sledding hill with a nearly 100-foot drop. Beware: this slope is not for the timid! Bonus: the nearby playground at the school is a nice spot for the kids (or childlike grown-ups) to relax between sled runs."
"Not to be overly dramatic, but there is literally nowhere better than Vermont come winter. Test us on it, We've got time.
The entire winter season is magical in Vermont, and there are so many recreational options through the state that goes far beyond your typical ski vacation. Despite the cold temperatures, there is no reason to sit inside. There is an old saying in Vermont that there's no such thing as bad weather, just bad clothes, so no matter when you're here or who you're with, put on your long johns and find the winter activity waiting for you.
You're never too old to be a kid again, and the best way to do this is to find a sled and fly down any of Vermont's amazing hills. Grab a rental from Umiak Outdoor Outfitters in Stowe or even join one of their Hammerhead Sled Tours to get a bit more extreme. They will guide you to the historic Smugglers' Notch to access snow-packed trails and teach you to ride like a pro. "
"Stowe is one of the most visited ski destinations in the northeast, but there's much more to this quintessential New England town than the slopes. The region's lakes, lush green mountains and picturesque woodlands attract adventure seekers and families throughout the year, while the town itself is a walkable treat of high-steepled churches, wooden bridges, lauded restaurants and independent shops that celebrate local artisans. Here, Passported contributor Elisa Brown shares her guide to experiencing the best of Stowe in every season.
What to do: Dogsled RidesUmiak Outdoor Outfitters offers daytime scenic adventure tours and evening rides."
"...Finally was a 25-minute full-body massage with sage oil; at my request, the therapist paid extra attention to my ski-swollen feet. On the way back to the waiting room, she gave me a small vial of the sage oil.
Unfortunately, I had to climb back into my ski pants all too soon, because we were going moonlight snow-shoeing through the woods. Well, it would have been by moonlight, had the clouds not been so thick, so we relied on headlamps as we were led by Umiak Outdoor Outfitters’ Max, another young and friendly character, who regaled us with the story of his nightly adventure in “skinning”. Max arises at 2 am, drives to whichever slope he chooses, hikes for an hour up the mountain on skis wrapped in seal skins, which he then removes and skis one run down the mountain. Then he goes home for a nap before heading to work.
So certainly we were in capable hands as we trudged on aluminum snow-shoes through woods whose bears Max assured us were in hibernation. There was so little snow that I probably would have done just as well in my boots, but the shoes felt surprisingly natural, and it was fun to try them as I stepped through patches of crunchy snow and matted grass, warm in my ski pants and parka. After about 20 or 30 minutes, we arrived at an old sugar house, a small cabin where maple sap is boiled into syrup. As we sipped white wine, Max filled the stove with wood and built a fire, lit a couple of lanterns, and spread meats and cheeses and crackers and condiments on paper plates over a plastic tablecloth. The highlight of all this for me was the Cold Hollow Cider Mill honey mustard, which brought a sweet tang to the savory pepperoni coins."
"The thing about Stowe, Vermont, is that it’s far from everything and close to nothing … if you’re counting strip malls and shopping centers as something. And that’s just the way its handful of residents and droves of tourists prefer it.
Set smack in the middle of the Green Mountain state, Stowe is a mountain village that closely mirrors the Bavarian Alps in topography and in architectural style. To the west are Lake Champlain and Burlington and due east is the New Hampshire border. Hands-down one of the most visited ski resort towns in the Northeast, it’s only been in the last 10 or 15 years that Stowe was thought of as a summer destination.
Sheri Baraw Smith, 48, grew up in her family’s business, the Stoweflake Mountain Resort and Spa, and remembers the stillness of summer back in the ’70s. “When I was a kid there was almost no tourism in the summer; winter was the busy season,” says Smith, who is now vice president of the resort. “It still is, but things have changed, and there’s something going on here pretty much year-round.”
Check out any tourism website for Stowe and you’ll see colorful montages of hikers, paddle-boarders, cyclists, swimmers, and of course, skiers. The abundance of protected land means endless hiking, biking, and paddle-boating options in the summer. The town’s five-and-a-half-mile recreation path is bordered by a river, making biking or walking a picturesque endeavor. Meanwhile, the nearby Waterbury Reservoir is a magnet for the watersport crowd, as are the Lamoille and Winooski rivers.
Do this: Umiak Outdoor Outfitters ; Paddle sport rentals and tours of all kinds along the scenic Lamoille and Winooski rivers."
"Join Umiak Outfitters for a fun and adventure-filled nighttime snowshoe tour in beautiful Stowe, Vermont. Their certified guides will take you on an easy walk through tree-lined and snow-covered trails where you will get a chance to learn about our great state. Your group will emerge from the forest at one of Stowe’s top resorts for an already prepared, delicious Vermont award-winning Cabot Cheese and Lake Champlain Chocolate fondue dinner. This is a family-friendly tour loved by adults and kids alike."
"Visit Stowe between the last week of September and the first two weeks of October to see the leaves of sugar and red maples, birches, elms, and poplars redden and golden. This Alpine mecca in winter considers itself the color capital in autumn. While some resort destinations fade to ghost towns après ski season, Stowe’s year-round population keeps it thriving. Many residents were urbanites seduced by this village tucked in the valley around Mount Mansfield, the state’s highest peak. The village is compact enough to be navigated on foot or on bike, with options for antique lovers to Anglophiles.
For the outdoor adventurer
National Geographic ranked Stowe as one of the top 100 adventure towns for its range of all-season activities.
Umiak Outdoor Outfitters provides guides and supplies for different adventures with gold panning ( Umiak no longer offers Gold Panning, please refer to our current listings ) to river paddling in the fall"
"At an outdoor outfitting company in Stowe called Umiak, we hired a nighttime guide, who taught us how to handle the ski poles correctly and use the snowshoes’ risers to walk up hills more effectively. (He also gave me a lesson in how to go downhill without looking like a dubstep dancer.)
Midway through the tour, we stopped in at an old sugarhouse for hot cider and local Cabot cheddar cheese with pepperoni. Aboriginal deer-hide snowshoes were mounted on the wall, a reminder that this tradition dates back to long before Europeans arrived in the New World. In earlier times, snowshoes weren’t for recreation—they were a vital means of transportation in an era when there were no roads. Using them today not only connects us to the land, but to a sense of its past, as well..."
"With mountains, storybook villages, covered bridges, and numerous scenic drives, Vermont is a terrific fall honeymoon destination. The foliage typically reaches its peak during the first week of October, when bright colors of gold, orange, and red permeate the landscape.
Starting in Wilmington, make your way up Route 100, which slices right through the heart of the Green Mountains. Take your time as you stop along the way at farm stands, general stores, and scenic lookouts.
Finish your honeymoon by hunkering down in picturesque Stowe, offering top-notch restaurants, B&Bs, resorts, shopping, and -- of course -- many outdoor activities. Add some adventure to your trip by planning out a few hiking, kayaking, or biking excursions. Umiak Outdoor Outfitters rents canoes and kayaks and leads guided tours, including a trip that ends with a visit to a local winery.
When to Go: Late September to early October
Must-Do: Stop at The Warren Store along historic Main St. in Warren for a feast of fall flavors. This wonderful country shop features a wine shop, deli, bakery, and gifts section."
"Baby, it’s cold outside, and we realize that. And while it might be tempting – encouraged, even – to curl up in front of the fireplace with a hot toddy, Vermont-based Umiak Outdoor Outfitters is urging you to brave the temperatures this winter for some unique outdoor activities that you just can’t find in a climate-controlled space.
Located in Stowe, Vermont,Umiak is flush with outdoor opportunities. Paddling is the company’s bread and butter, with more than 85 types of canoes and kayaks available to rent for fishing and river tours. But Umiak also shines when the mercury drops, with its signature dogsledding, ski clinics, and one-of-a-kind snowshoeing tours. These tours are available for all ages, with all sizes of snowshoe – as long as the participant can withstand a short hike, they can snowshoe. The highlight of this year’s snowshoe schedule is the Moonlight Wine and Cheese Tour. An evening tour through a forest led by headlamps – or, if the moon is full enough, just lunar glow – culminates at an old sugar shack where local Cabot cheeses and hot apple cider await. Participants are more than welcome – encouraged, even – to bring their own wine..."
"Umiak Outdoor Outfitters is a retail store and tour company. The retail division sells everything necessary for outdoor adventures in New England, including new and used boats, skis, snowshoes, clothing, sleds, car racks, and crampons. It offers tours year-round, whether you would like to go kayaking in the summer or sledding in the winter.
Kayak tours of the Winooski River give visitors an opportunity to see wildlife up close, as the shores and water are home to deer, otters, moose, great blue heron, and kingfishers. The Lamoille River canoeing tour is ideal for beginners, with its slow-moving waters. Craft brewery tours are offered, and in the winter, guides take out groups to snowshoe, ski cross-country, or to have a spectacular ride on a dogsled."
"I also asked about the happy pups I saw behind the Stoweflake. Unfortunately, my agenda was maxed with no room for more, but after hearing about Eric’s exhilarating recap of his dog-sled ride with Umiak Outdoor Outfitters I made a mental note to add that to my future to-do list. Their mushers and teams of Siberian Huskies offer twenty-minute rides from Stoweflake."
"Based out of Stowe, Vermont, Umiak Outdoor Outfitters has river outposts on both the Lamoille and Winooski Rivers for guided and self-guided river tours. Their Waterbury Reservoir outpost in Waterbury State Park has kayak and canoe rentals for self-guided tours. The outfitter offers all levels of kayak instruction from beginner through instructor certification. They also instruct in stand up paddle boarding and canoeing. Their retail shop in Stowe, Vermont stocks 85 models of kayaks, canoes, and stand up paddleboards. Winter guided activities include snowshoeing, backcountry skiing, and dogsledding."
"For a taste of Vermont backcountry but also a bit of civilization, Umiak has options like the kayak trip that ends with a wine-tasting and winery tour; and the Ice Cream Float, a two-hour paddle that includes a stop at the Ben & Jerry's Factory for ice cream. Most of these are self-guided trips that include instruction and tips before Umiak sends you on your way."
"STOWE, Vt. -- "High performance" is not a term I usually associate with the most childish of winter sports, but Joe Henry, Umiak Outdoor Outfitters retail manager, was ready to disabuse me of my preconceptions about sledding. In fact, Umiak sells - and more typically, rents - three radically different high-performance sleds.
"They're adult toys," Henry said. Just like kids' sleds, the new-wave equipment gets you from the top of the hill to the bottom, but the ride is a whole lot more memorable. That two of the three products come from Vermont companies should be no surprise."
"This online search brought me to my journey’s end when I encountered the symbiotic business relationship that Ben and Jerry’s has with a very well stocked local guide and outfitter called Umiak Outfitters. With this enhanced knowledge, it all finally came together, as I discovered that the Ben and Jerry’s Snowshoe Tours are brought to outdoor enthusiasts by Umiak who is on a mission to..."
"When the slopes become too steep or you’ve ridden the chairlift one too many times, this Vermont town has enough winter attractions to keep visitors out of hibernation. Its location under the majestic Mt. Mansfield has been attracting visitors for generations.
Stowe, a town often referred to as the ski capital of the east, is more than just the mountains and award-winning terrain. Visitors can stroll through the charming downtown, pop into high-end shops, take a lesson from the pros in how to make apple cider at the Cold Hollow Cider Mill, or rent a sled from Umiak Outdoor Outfitters and scream on the ride down the hill, said Ed Stahl, executive of the Stowe Area Association.
The association offers vacation planning through GoStowe.com, as well as gift certificates, dining guides and a calendar of special events...."
Winter In Stowe Is Not Just Skiing
"Most people who come to Stowe in the winter usually come for the skiing at Stowe Mountain Resort or the Nordic skiing at Trapp Family Lodge. But winter in Stowe is not just skiing. There are many outdoor sports you can do on snow and ice. Did you ever notice that most winter sports start with S? Skiing, snowshoeing, skating, snowmobiling, sledding, and the lone wolf, ice fishing. Here’s an overview of where to go in Stowe for these non-skiing winter sports.
Sterling Forest (yup, another S), a few miles north of Stowe Village, was once farmland. Now preserved by the Stowe Land Trust, it is an ideal place for easy-to-moderate snowshoeing. The Catamount Trail, a cross-country ski trail that runs the length of Vermont and is maintained by the Catamount Trail Association, is the main vein through the network. Trails such as Marston, Sterling Run, and Peak-A-View were once logging roads and are now used for non-motorized recreation. The far-reaching Marston Trail was the driveway to the Marston Farm, and remnants of stone walls and the homestead foundation remain. On the northern side of Sterling Brook are the Papa’s Trail, Upper Gorge Loop, and Basin Trail. To the east of Sterling Brook
Eight Bridges trail. All are great for snowshoe outings. A trail map and directions to Sterling Forest can be found at Stowe Mountain Bike Club. Rent snowshoes and get tips at Umiak Outfitters.
There’s nothing like flying down a slope on a sled. One of the best places to go sledding in Stowe is in Smuggler’s Notch. The road is closed to traffic and the snow is well-packed by a variety of snow travelers (including one or two snowmobiles). You’ll have to walk to the top of the Notch, but it’s worth the trip and exercise because the ride back down is a blast. Bring your own sled or rent a high-tech one at Umiak Outfitters. There’s also Marshall Hill, right in the village. It used to sport a rope tow!"
- Lea Van Winkle
Lea Van Winkle
Read Lea Van Winkle
"Stowe, Vermont has a long-standing reputation as the leading ski town in the Northeast, but Vermont's lakes, lush green mountains, and picturesque woodlands provide adventure seekers and families plenty to do throughout the spring, summer, and fall. The historic village of Stowe is quintessential New England town filled with hight-steeple churches, wooden bridges, noteworthy restaurants, and independently owned shops that celebrates the craftsmanship of local artisans. Luxury travel expert Elisa Brown recently hit the trails with her children and curated guide that delivers the best of Stone anytime of year...
"Get Iditarod-ready in the backcountry with Umiak Outdoor Outfitter's dogsledding tours. Try a 20-minute nighttime jaunt for a taste of a musher's life, or go for two and a half immersive hours of handling, harnessing and hitching huskies for a 45-minute ride. (No snow no problem: You'll use a wheeled cart instead) Not a dog person? Try the moonlight snowshoe hike to an old sugar shack, where a smorgasbord of local chocolates, cheese, and warm mulled cider awaits."
- Maggie Shi
Time Out New York
Read Time Out New York
WE LOVER MONT
"When it comes to recreation, the area encompassing Stowe, Waterbury, and Waitsfield appears to be the best place to head to. Gay-friendly Jet Blue Airlines took me into Burlington about a half-hour from Stowe, where I checked into Timberholm Inn. Darrick Pitstick and Rich Drill are the owners of this gorgeous piece of property. I adored the suite that I stayed in but found tranquility in the main room of the house, with its fireplace and a cage with two Australian doves. The back window leads onto a deck overlooking a gazebo and some beautiful acreage. Last year, of the 71 Civil Unions in Stowe, 61 were held at Timberholm Inn.
During the winter, Stowe recreation centers around the ski areas of Stowe Mountain and Bolton Valley. Spring and Summer months allow for hiking, biking, and boating. Umiak Outdoor Outfitters offers the best tours, equipment and more. There's a special bike path along route 108 to take advantage of.
We all know that food can be considered a recreation unto itself and what better place to enjoy it than being able to sample the best of the local morsels. Although Champlain Chocolates are the well-known company in the area, Leigh Williams is the owner and chocolate chef of Laughing Moon Chocolates, where only small batches of premium chocolates are prepared."
The winter in Stowe is not just about skiing. Many fun activities occur throughout the season and Umiak Outdoor Outfitters has a huge selection of fun, family-friendly and challenging sports to choose from. If you can walk or hike in the summer, you can snowshoe in the winter, with just a few more layers of clothing. Don’t want to hike…try a dogsled tour or even a sledding tour with the kids. Whatever your passion, you’ll find something to delight you.
Umiak Outdoor Outfitters
Moonlight Cabin Snowshoe Tours ~ Fondue Snowshoe Tour ~ Top of the Notch Performance Sled Tour ~ Ben & Jerry’s Snowshoe & Ice Cream Too!
The Green Mountain Inn, located less than a mile from Umiak Outdoor Outfitters, is the perfect place to stay during your Snowshoe Tours in Stowe. Enjoy a leisurely soak in our outdoor, heated pool or cozy up to the fire while you enjoy a warm drink and cookies. Reserve your stay now and enjoy a wonderful winter getaway in Stowe.
After a few hours relaxing at the Inn from our day of skiing, we headed out for an evening dog sledding tour right in Stowe! Umiak Outdoor Outfitters offers several dog sledding options but we decided to start with the 20 minute evening tour run out of Stowe and offered two evenings a week during the winter months.
The snow was still falling and I have to admit that I am not an experienced snow driver. With my cousin’s four-wheel drive and very cautious and slow turns, we pulled up at the Stoweflake Resort and Spa, where we were to meet our dog sledding guide. With a few minutes to spare, we kept warm by the fireplace inside the Stoweflake Resort and Spa. I took the liberty to peek in at their Spa which looked so relaxing and lovely, but that would have to be for the next trip as it was time to meet the Siberian Huskies eager to pull our sled with an age-old form of transportation.
As I cozied up with my daughter in the comfortable touring sled, we set off with our guide on a 20-minute trek. The dogs were much smaller than I expected but with a team of ten, they were more than able to get us going. Our experienced musher used specific sounds and cues to her team of Siberian Huskies, as she let them know where to turn and speed up.
There was a peaceful silence as the snow fell. Only the sound of the sled pulling through the snow gave off a subtle crunching noise. The darkness was eerie at first as I thought back to those signs of bear or moose crossings we saw driving into Vermont. Although I cannot be certain we were not being watched by wild animals from a distance, the dogs were a reassuring comfort to have nearby.
Umiak’s website was right, “This affordable introduction to Stowe sled dog rides is a wonderful way to end a day of skiing!” Reservations are necessary so plan ahead to ensure your spot!
Veer downtown, stopping in at Stowe Bee Bakery & Cafe for the gigantic popovers made with homemade butter. (And go early — they usually sell out quickly.)
Then visit Umiak Outdoor Outfitters, where you can choose your own adventure. The company offers dog sledding with Alaskan Huskies during the day or Siberian Huskies in the evening, as well as snowshoeing and tubing tours. For the more independently minded, rent snowshoes and head out where the locals go. Airbnb superhost Heather Snyder recommends Smugglers’ Notch State Park or Wiessner Woods. “It’s pretty magical when the snow is fresh and sparkling in the light through the trees,” she says. “It changes the acoustics and makes everything quiet. You can’t help feeling more peaceful afterwards.”
Finish off the idyllic small-town winter weekend by browsing the historic shops on and around Main Street. Weave through country stores like Shaw’s General Store and Stowe Mercantile, as well as Green Mountain Fine Art Gallery, inside a Federal-style building, and Northwood Gallery, featuring the state’s artisans. Be sure to pop into Laughing Moon Chocolates, which offers daily chocolate dipping demonstrations (with samples) at 2 p.m. in its open kitchen — and leave town with a homemade hot chocolate in hand.
Vermont Day-cations: 10 Trips to Explore Vermont's Waterways
In summer, Vermonters measure their water in different ways — the number of cannonballs they make into a neighborhood pool, say, or the miles they travel to a distant campsite on a lake with loons. The yearly totals may not be as impressive, but for families, the numbers add up to lifelong bonding.
These 10 trips will help you find refreshment together at various depths. You can dip your toes into an Essex wading pool, tube down a Brattleboro river or canoe to your campsite for an overnight stay at the Green River Reservoir.
Waterbury Reservoir, Waterbury
Vermont may have had its fill of floods this year, but fans of the 830-acre Waterbury Reservoir should be grateful for the threat of overflow, as it was a flood-control project that created this watery playground in the 1930s. A glassy surface and easy access from the Stowe area — there are two state parks here — now make it a favorite among waterskiers, wakeboarders, and stand-up paddleboarders. There are also plenty of swimming beaches for wading and splashing. The place is no secret, but even in the height of summer, it's far more placid than it was when 2000 Civilian Conservation Corps workers built it.
Best for: Waterskiing, wakeboarding, stand-up paddleboarding, swimming
Details: Umiak Outdoor Outfitters rents paddleboards, kayaks, and canoes at Waterbury Center State Park.
Little River State Park has camping.
With big rains this spring, the rivers around New England are still running high. Now’s the time to plan a paddling trip—by canoe, kayak or even SUP. Most of these trips can be done as single or multi-day adventures. Check ahead about campsite availability, what portages may be necessary and the river conditions. While it’s hard to limit paddling trips to just 10, all of these are accessible for new paddlers and most have nearby campsites. Here are our picks for great trips, south to north plus three epic journeys. Trips that require no portages or whitewater sections are rated easy. Don’t have a boat? Many of the outfitters mentioned can help with rentals, guided trips, shuttles or buying your own boat.
5. Waterbury Reservoir (Easy)
Perhaps the easiest and most accessible paddling is on the Waterbury Reservoir. Campsites, cabins and kayak and canoe rentals are available at the state-run Little River State Park at the south end of the reservoir. Or you can rent a canoe, kayak or paddleboard from Umiak’s put in off Route 100 in Waterbury Center. While the shoreline of the 850-acre reservoir is largely undeveloped and forested, the waters can get busy with motorboats and waterskiing during the day. The north end, 6.5 miles from the southern terminus, has a speed limit of 5 mph and a no-wake zone. Come sunset, head to one of the 27 remote campsites maintained by Vermont State Parks along the shore for some solitude and a chance to listen to some of the nesting loons.