You know THIS IS THE WEEK for leaf peeping – and I had to do it and share. Two great days out, and some views for you to hopefully savor. The colors this year are wonderful – as I recall, I was disappointed last year. Most “out of staters” don’t know (or are afraid of) unmarked dirt roads. Instead they travel the main roads – numbered highways, pavement, lines on the roads, telephone polls – all signs of civilization. Dread the thought.
I get a number of emails, and on 3 October received one with – 7 of the Most Beautiful Dirt Roads in Vermont. I was thrilled to learn that Kelley Stand Road from Stratton to East Arlington, Vermont, was back open after Irene. I found it impassible and closed when there in July 2013. Then on the 11th I got another email – Four Vermont Scenic Mountain Roads to Travel Before The Snow Flies – roads with No Winter Maintenance, and closed. Kelley Stand Road is on the list, as well as Route 108 through Smugglers’ Notch, which I took you on just this August on my way to Canada. I had to travel across the Green Mountains on Kelley Stand Road, and off I went this past Wednesday, 9 October.
I traveled through Townsend to Wardsboro (was there for the 4th in 2018) to head south on VT 100 – the backbone of the state. You have to watch carefully for the sign to Stratton. Not the ski area, but there is a little town with a couple buildings, the road to East Arlington, and leaves in “downtown”.
It is 15 miles from Stratton to East Arlington, and dirt and “No Winter Maintenance” begins just east of the minuscule village. The road originally served numerous logging camps and early settlements during the nineteenth century. August 28, 2011, Tropical Storm Irene caused major damage to the road. A river/stream follows the western downhill side with four bridges that were destroyed. After three years of reconstruction and $3.8 million, Kelley Stand Road completely reopened through the Green Mountains on September 17, 2014.
3/10ths of a mile once the road becomes dirt you have to look carefully for a small entrance to find this marker. 15,000 people were here July 1840, to hear Daniel Webster “stumping” for the Whig presidential ticket of William Henry Harrison and John Tyler. This open field, at 2,400 feet in the Green Mountains, was perfect for the orator. There was little newspaper coverage of the event, and we do not know what Webster said. One author wrote, “They had counters, so the 15,000 figure has been verified.” In 1840, Vermont’s population was almost 292,000, thus five percent of Vermonters were there.
You have seen those images saying either, “what is wrong in this picture” or “do you see the differences.” Well here I am with GiGi on this trip, and BLUE BELLE on the previous adventure when the road was closed. Can you spot the differences, and one troubling one?
Yes, most differences obvious, but most disturbing, look at the rock. Acid-rain? Well, back on my way – I love “closed-in” dirt roads.
GiGi was my partner today. BLUE BELLE really wanted to go, but it was in the low 50s and overcast, and I thought better. When I reached this high point on the road at this pond, I checked GiGi’s thermometer – 49 degrees. I made the right car selection for a hundred mile adventure.
Four bridges had been replaced, and this is Bridge 1, closest to East Arlington. Note the rock hill sliding to the road. Of the eleven dirt miles, the western most half followed the river.
and, then back to seeing houses and a few other cars, I scooted over to West Arlington to again see the covered bridge. To my back is Norman Rockwell’s home there.
Coming back home, I had a bite to eat in Manchester, headed towards Bromley and turned south on VT30 back to Townsend. But instead of passing through Athens (was I shocked coming through earlier – the main dirt road has been paved), I cut over to Grafton. Always love it there, and explored “new” dirt roads. I finally found the dead end dirt road that ends with the drive to Chevy Chase’s FUNNY FARM home. It was the drive the postman raced up, and you better remember the house and surroundings. Exploring more, the leaves were great in Grafton.
I know you will want to take the routes I was on. Below in pink is the trip above I took on the 9th, and in yellow Sunday’s explorations with amazing colors and “filling in the map.” Yes, you can click on the map for almost full screen size.
The long Columbus Day weekend, Sunday the 9th appeared to be the best day for sun and temperature. BLUE BELLE and I were off. Destination first, the Newfane, Vermont, fair, and then unexplored roads cutting over to South Wardsboro, and then to Wilmington and home. Guess what? It did not happen that way, BLUE BELLE made some unplanned turns.
Going down US5 and cutting over through Dumerston Center to get to Route 30 – what are all the cars doing here? It was Apple Pie Festival day. We parked in a field, and I trouped around. No pie or apples, but bought five good books – never pass them up.
Parking was not so easy in Newfane, and I really did not have to look at crafts, so I continued on to South Wardsboro/Newfane Road as planned.
Once arriving in South Wardsboro for the first time, I found it consists of an intersection, a couple houses, and the Congregational church.
To my left (next to a house with all its laundry hung out to dry) was Potter Road I had found on Google Maps to “short-cut” over to VT100. It was dirt, and proudly displayed was the sign NO WINTER MAINTENANCE – yeah, another great isolated dirt path. Off we went.
At an indistinguishable cross roads, I knew from my map gazing (albeit on-line and not paper) that I wanted to turn right, and shortly would intersect with VT100 between Wardsboro Center and West Wardsboro. Indeed I was correct, and if you wish to go in reverse turning off VT 100, just look for Lower Podunk Road.
Arriving at the intersection of VT100 and VT9, it was a zoo. So, I turned east on nine to head to the flea market and home. Perfect stop, and I got the juicy hamburger I was craving. Heading east the leaves were absolutely wonderful on Route 9. Suddenly BLUE BELLE saw a sign leading to a forest of leaves that said, “Town Hill Road.” She jerked my hands right on the wheel, and up we climbed, actually ending up in downtown Marlboro. I knew it was downtown because besides three houses there was a church, library and post office. I continued on to Marlboro College before turning around. But, she did it again thinking the dirt road to the right would get us back to Rt 9. Fortunately it did not, and you should get so beautifully “lost” – no, I knew I was still in Vermont.
it just would not stop – the beauty that is
a tad further I stopped when I saw a couple women walking, asking, “where am I?” They laughed, and said Halifax. “Canada? I don’t remember having to show my passport.” No, you are below Brattleboro they told me. I never found the center of Halifax (if there is one – population 728 in 2010), but I will re-explore someday. I stumbled onto a small paved road, and looking where the sun was figured I should turn left to try to find something familiar in Brattleboro. But, first more great leaves.
Could not believe it, the road I was on dead ended on VT9 in West Brat. I turned right to get to I-91 for one exit to cross back to NH and follow River Road (always love it) along the Connecticut River, and back home. No great leaves to share from there, but always wonderful. But, before completing the journey, BLUE BELLE said we had earned an ice cream at Stuart and John’s
What a day – great roads, great leaves, and a new hobby – find NO WINTER MAINTENANCE. Hope you enjoy these two one hundred mile each trips with me. Love, RAY