Now 50 years old, founded in 1972, and I have been passing the entrance (near a bend in the road so not really looking) now for 20 years. But the other day a friend told me the fun they had there with grandchildren. Then looking at the map realizing there were some more Vermont roads I had not been on – I need to visit, and “fill in the map.”

You should know me and backroads, and I may never traverse I-91 and I-89 to Quechee and Woodstock again. Below is my route with BLUE BELLE yesterday. And I have circled three stretches of roads I highly recommend, even if you are not in a little convertible. Heading north, NH 12A is a great stretch from Claremont to the Windsor-Cornish covered bridge. In Windsor I headed north on US 5 to Hartland where it joins with VT 12, but I crossed onto Quechee Road – new to me, and a definite repeat. Heading home, I came south on VT 12, which I had not been on before, to Hartland Four Corners where I turned right to go over the hill (not been this way before) to Brownsville. Getting ahead — my favorite spots on US 5 are from Acsutney down to Charlestown, then you have to jog under I-91 to head south again on my second favorite stretch. Great views, great farm land – pack a picnic and go. Here is the map (large to encourage you) of my route, and then I will tell you about my time at VINS NATURE CENTER.

If you sadly do not “back-road” but are heading west on US 4, start watching on the right for the center after Quechee Gorge. This image below I took as I was exiting (looking east), so it is the other side of what you are looking for.

Setting the stage for this great place to visit, here is their Mission Statement:

Motivating individuals and communities
to care for the environment through education,
research, and avian wildlife rehabilitation.

there are outdoor lectures throughout the day, and I arrived with plenty of time before Predators of the Sky at 11AM, and later I sat in on Raptors Up Close at 1 PM. The lecturers are incredibly informative, impart much information, so much I can easily sit in again. Here are some of the birds they talked about. The center serves as a rehabilitation hospital, but the birds used as “ambassadors” have been injured to the point that they cannot return to the wild. The same with the display birds in enclosures. Remember that with my “galleries” you can click for larger views.

A fascinating exhibit in an enclosed pavilion next to the open air theater traces the evolutionary path of birds. Well worth the trip alone. Below are some of the information panels (click to enlarge) that provide some good background of bird’s development over millions and millions of years.

Wrapping around the theater area are well done enclosures where you will meet and learn about many of the now permanent residents of the center. Here is one such resident.

If for no other reason, you need to visit to enter and explore the Forest Canopy Walk.

you may click the image below also for a larger reading version

This unique walk is so much fun and so informative with the panels along the path explaining how forests work for the environment that I decided to give you full size, and not gallery views. You need to – repeat, you need to take the walk and learn. Below is an interesting tidbit along the way.

If it were not for the kids (and maybe my bone joints and mobility) I would have climbed right in this web, high above the forest.

and, then there is the tower. as I recall my counting, 80 wooden steps before the platform (81 feet high according to the sign) where the spiral staircase began with 30 more steps Yes, look UP.

and look DOWN

and maybe NOT LOOK DOWN

yes, me at the top

thought I would share this map you are given. The “shows” are at the Hawk Fly, dinosaur-bird exhibit it in the Neale Pavilion, and many hiking paths on the 46 acres.

During my visit it was pleasing to see many young families, and groups of campers enjoying the shows, exhibits, and grounds. BUT — ATTENTION WALPOLE LIBRARY PATRONS — admission to VINS is $18 for adults with a dollar off for seniors or veterans (don’t think I would get credit for both) – BUT, CHECK OUT THE LIBRARY’S MEMBERSHIP and that entitles you to admission of $5 each for up to four people. Once I post this, I hope the line forms.

remember the Vermont road map, way above, with my route of favorite roads and new roads filling in the map? Leaving I headed west on Route 4, then south on Route 12. At Hartland Four Corners I turned right on Brownsville Road to go up over the hill and down the hill into the little village of Brownsville with Mt. Ascutney looming in the background.

It was a great almost seven hours out, particularly when I was able to sail back down my favorite sections of US 5 as noted above. May I encourage you to also explore VINS NATURE CENTER, and Lauren, when you take Abby I would love to join you to experience everything through the eyes of a child (younger than me).

Happy 4th of July everyone – luv, RAY

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1 Response to VINS NATURE CENTER – QUECHEE, VT – 29 JUNE 2022

  1. George Lush says:

    Ray, An interesting place. I remember taking an evolutionary biology course in college and learning birds evolved from reptiles. The reptiles’ scales evolved into feathers. I suppose the ability to fly away from predators and the ability to cover more distance in search of food gave these prehistoric creatures a distinct evolutionary advantage. There is an excellent nature preserve here in Las Vegas, The Springs Preserve. “Las Vegas” translates to “the meadows.” There were springs here that provided water for the indigenous peoples and later for steam locomotives, leading to the establishment of the city. Keep exploring and stay curious, George

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