Doggone Good Time

by Kathy Murphy

Going to the Dogs

According to the American Pet Products Association National Pet Owners Survey, over 46 million households own a dog; in fact, it’s likely more than one as total number of dogs owned as pets exceeds 78 million. We pamper them, bring them wherever we roam, and surprise them with something new often, whether stylish accessories, gourmet treats or escape to points unknown.

  • When you look at your pet, circled up beside you on the floor, playing fetch in the yard with your kids, or riding shotgun on the way to the groomer, what do you see? A loyal friend, a trusted confidant, a playful exercise partner?

    Everybody sees their pet differently. Some people focus on the pedigree, others view them as furry companions; most however treat their pets just like a member of the family and take their well-being to heart each and every day. For this age-less “child” of the family, rules may be broken, lessons unlearned and sins forgiven. Why? Because your pet’s spirited curiosity leads to amazing discovery and downright joy. Whether you’re traveling with your pet, or you just want to emulate their energetic approach to life, a trip to Vermont means a doggone good time for man (or woman!) and beast.

  • It’s a Dog’s Life in Vermont

  • Most people love to play. Atop a mountain, in the middle of a lake, on a farm, or in the woods, there’s rest and rejuvenation, adventure and whimsy, scenery and sounds of nature in all four seasons in Vermont. Hiking, paddling, rummaging and roaming with a four-legged companion is exhilarating – many pets and their human counterparts will explore with tail-wagging Labrador bravado, abandoning the trail in favor of open space, hell-bent to fully engage all five senses. Others experience with a more reserved, feline independence, cautious yet curious as they scale to new heights or launch into unknown waters.

    Here, outdoor adventure comes in all shapes and sizes, and playcations are packaged to appeal to a variety of tastes, interests, and breeds. Lush Green Mountain forests, long winding roads, and crisp, clear lakes and ponds are the backdrop for endless possibilities. Our cars and trucks are equipped with racks loaded with road and mountain bikes, kayaks and canoes, or cargo carriers toting camping gear – all the ingredients that enable instant gratification when the sun is shining and the fish are biting.

  • For pet-friendly accommodations, look for the “Pets Accepted” icon (z) in the listings section of this guidebook. As always, if you intend to vacation with your pet, please call ahead.

    Hiking and Walking

  • Who doesn’t like to go for a walk and unleash oneself from responsibility and routine? It’s easy to put your best foot or paw forward in Vermont, whether you have two or four, where our mountains are accessible. Wooded trails are often a short drive from quaint villages or mere steps away from resort accommodations.

    One of our treasures is America’s oldest long-distance hiking trail, the Long Trail, which spans 272 miles (389 km) from the Massachusetts border to Canada. Whether you lace up your boots to tackle the entire end-to-end journey or venture off on a day hike to one of the many summits, like Stratton Mountain, Killington Peak, Camel’s Hump, or Mount Mansfield – Vermont’s highest peak – you’ll be rewarded with spectacular 360 degree views all over New England and the state of New York. If you do tackle a mountain with your dog, please keep them under your control and on the trail. Always bring along a leash, extra water and a baggie or two.

    For shorter, family-centric jaunts to discover colorful wildflowers, wild blueberries or musical songbirds, try the trail to Pleiad Lake in Ripton, one of Vermont’s highest lakes; the footpaths of Mount Independence in Orwell, an active archeology site with Revolutionary War historical features; or Mount Philo in Charlotte, with sweeping Lake Champlain vistas. To find hiking on state lands, family-friendly hikes, or inn-to-inn guided hiking tours, turn to pages 103–105 of this guidebook, or visit the website of Vermont State Parks (>

    You may seek a different sort of path to travel, one that is more flat and urban. While the surface may be predictable, the journey is far from it as you stroll through our Designated Downtowns on paved recreation paths or rail trails (see page 96 of this guidebook to find a Designated Downtown). Outdoor dining, sculptures and statues, floral gardens, historic markers and classic New England architecture are interwoven into the natural landscape of these vibrant communities. Or, head out of town to walk the acclaimed, tree canopied roads of Vermont bordered by stone fences keeping cows at bay. And, if your dog likes to “ruff it” too, the West River Trail in Jamaica, or Stowe Recreation Path, are just a few of the many “walkin’ the dog” options available to Fido. Keep your pet on a leash in town, and be aware that while many businesses are dog-friendly, some are not.

  • First road trip with your pet?

    Orvis in Manchester offers newbies an indispensible roadside companion, The AAA Pet Book Traveling with Your Pet, along with a cadre of items from FUR Dry™ jackets to stainless steel water bottles to equip you and your pal for all kinds of Vermont adventures ( When it’s raining cats and dogs, you may want to invest in a bright red, comfy Polartec™ Fleece dog coat by VT Fleece Company, made in Vermont and available at Vermont Country Store in Weston or Rockingham in an array of sizes ( Photo: Orvis


  • Rolling routes through quaint villages and past Vermont farms and orchards, over covered bridges and across lush valleys, and up majestic mountains surrounding pristine lakes make cycling the ideal way to enjoy Vermont’s unspoiled scenery. Here you can choose between touring the quiet back roads of the Champlain Valley, or take on the challenge of the forested trails and rollicking terrain of the Northeast Kingdom on your mountain bike – whatever your preference, we have the ride for you.

    For some, “man’s best friend” is two- wheeled and not four-legged. Those who love their bike and seek every opportunity to spend time together won’t bark up the wrong tree cycling in Vermont, with or without their pet. There are hundreds of miles of roads and trails, from scenic, leisurely rides to heart-pumping single track adventures, kid-friendly bike paths to hill workouts on mountain access roads and adrenaline-fueled downhill descents powered by lift-access. Bike centers, tour operators, bike organizations, resorts and lodging choices are as plentiful and as accommodating as the options to peddle your way through Vermont.

    Looking for an organized, simplified solution that enables you to experience Vermont from the saddle worry-free? Try an inn-to-inn bike tour. You’ll rise and shine in a beautiful, comfortable inn, ride at your own pace amidst the sights and sounds of one of the world’s most stunning locations, and relax with warm, friendly people over fine food at day’s end. If you do intend to bring your pet, always call ahead to be sure he or she can be accommodated or make arrangements for Fido to be well taken care of while you are on the road. (Please see page 85 of this guidebook to find an organized bike trip.) From extreme to the mainstream, Vermont’s alpine and cross country resorts also offer mountain bike terrain in summer and fall, many served by lifts to enable quick ascent to diverse trail networks. Check the Vermont Ski Areas Association’s website to find a resort open for mountain biking (

    Traveling without your pet but want to experience the thrill of mountain biking? Other human-only options include the Catamount Outdoor Family Center in Williston, just outside of Burlington ( and the bike terrain park for both mountain and BMX bikes at Grafton Ponds Outdoor Center in Grafton. Three terrain loops feature jumps, switchbacks, and teeter-totters; don’t miss “Ravine Run” – an exciting series of drops, deep turns, and bridges down the side of Grafton Ponds’ steep ravine. Grafton Ponds Outdoor Center welcomes dogs on Mondays and Thursdays. This facility offers guided tours for all levels and abilities (

  • Hello, My Name Is….

    From monogrammed sweaters and personalized food and water bowls to digitized collar tags and handmade treats, owners embrace their pets as true members of the American family with their very own belongings.


  • Who doesn’t love a cool, refreshing dip when the dog days of summer arrive? From sandy beaches to a backyard pond or pool, crystalline mountain lakes to spring-fed quarries, the options for swimming in clear, clean waters are plentiful throughout the state.

    One “big lake” destination is Lake Champlain’s North Beach in Burlington, open Memorial Day weekend through Labor Day ( North Beach welcomes dogs on leashes. Other larger bodies of water for swimming include Lake Carmi, Bomoseen or Lake Willoughby; for smaller options, choose Silver Lake in Barnard, Lake St. Catherine or Lake Elmore. It’s a safe bet to ask your innkeeper or concierge for their personal favorite too; swimming holes off the beaten path can be closely guarded secrets and are yet as well worth exploring as more popular destinations.

  • Fishing

  • There are fish tails and tributes and then there’s the one that got away. In Vermont, fishing is a favorite pastime of visitors and Vermonters alike. One of the few activities that engage the passions and interests of everyone from kids to great-grandparents, catching “the big one” in Vermont is sometimes challenging, often exciting, and always rewarding, no matter how your fish stacks up. With more than 20 popular species of game and panfish to be found in the lakes, ponds, rivers, and brooks of Vermont, chances are your catch will be just fine and the lifelong bond between generations of family and friends made on the water will endure.

    Two-Legged Vermont Vacations

    Traveling with your four-legged best friend is not for everyone. If your vacation is for human adventurers only there are plenty of outdoor activities for you to experience with the energy and enthusiasm of a happy dog, even if you left him at home.

    Vermont’s family-friendly fishing spots are dispersed across the state and offer families an excellent chance of catching rainbow, brook or lake trout, or perch, bass or pickerel from shore or in a boat. Kids under 15 years can get started without a license; for more information and “Trophy Trout” designated sites, contact the Vermont Department of Fish & Wildlife ( (Your pet doesn’t need a license but make sure to keep them away from the hook!) Local outfitters also offer guided tours and lessons. Or, take part in one of the many competitive, fundraising fishing derbies on Lake Champlain annually (

    If you’re ready to hook some human-only time, try an Orvis-endorsed fly fishing excursion in Essex at The Essex, Vermont’s Culinary Resort and Spa (, pick up a fly rod at the Orvis Manchester Fly Fishing School at The Equinox Resort in Manchester Village ( or experience a private fishing lodge on Lake Champlain when you stay at Charlie’s Northland Lodge on North Hero Island, with discounts available just for anglers (

  • Looking for a more traditional style?

    Johnson Woolen Mills in Johnson keeps man’s best friend warm with an insulated, wool buffalo plaid coat in blue, red and green checkered patterns ( Photo: Johnson Woolen Mills


  • Float, paddle, motor, sail, cruise…so many ways to explore Vermont’s bodies of water. Be adventurous and engage the thrilling speed of a powerboat or Jet Ski. Be silent and stealth-like in a kayak or canoe. Harness the wind power of a sailboat, hot dog off the high cliffs into the deep pools of a quarry, or simply bob lazily along down a river on a tube. Lakes and ponds, reservoirs and rivers dot all regions of the state for ready access and every mood and budget.

    Ready to add an air of elegance and fine dining to your on-water experience? Drop Fido at a friend’s house for a play date all his own and climb on board the Spirit of Ethan Allen III, a floating restaurant, banquet facility, and cruise ship on Lake Champlain, offering themed dinner cruises that take you on an entertaining adventure like no other ( Vermont Discovery Cruises feature various multi-day and night vacation cruises aboard The Moonlight Lady, exploring the coastline, islands and broad waters of Lake Champlain from Burlington to the northernmost reaches of the lake and even as far north as Montreal, Canada (

  • Chow Time

    Vermont outdoor adventures burn lots of calories so it’s vital that both man and beast refuel. Wagatha’s in Manchester Center boasts an array of options certain to put a smile on each and every furry face (, or stop in to Birchgrove Baking in Montpelier for their handmade dog treats ( Kelly’s K9 Cookies in Milton are homemade, all natural and good enough for humans to eat (


  • Golfers are a unique breed, hot on the trail of birdies and eagles that have nothing to do with feathers. Yet their exuberance is rewarded in Vermont, where the natural landscape is well-suited for challenging but very playable courses, many with breathtaking views. It’s never been easier or more fun to play a few rounds in Vermont. The Vermont Golf Association features courses designed by such renowned golf architects as Jack Nicklaus, Robert Trent Jones, Sr., Graham Cooke & Associates, and more (

    Whether you tee it up at a resort or play a round on a public course, the design and scenery will be memorable. The Hermitage Golf Club at Haystack Mountain in Wilmington is a Desmond Muirhead-designed 6,549 yard, par 72 championship course (; the course at the Mount Snow Golf Club, designed by New England course architect Geoffrey Cornish, is an 18-hole par 72 championship course with stunning Green Mountain views. New to the sport or hoping to perfect your swing? The Original Golf School at Mount Snow was one of the first golf schools in the country. The Okemo Inn in Ludlow offers golf packages ( at Okemo Valley Golf Club; Stratton Mountain Resort features a championship, 27-hole golf course with slopeside village ( and golf school founded by Arnold Palmer; The Village Green at Stowe is a family condominium resort adjacent to the Stowe Country Club (; and the Sugarbush Resort in Warren is home to a Robert Trent Jones, Sr. 18-hole course with golf camps and clinics for men, women and juniors (

  • Four Paws Up Accommodations

    Many inns, bed & breakfasts, hotels, and resorts throughout Vermont are adopting pet-friendly policies. National chains, like the Hilton in Burlington, the Holiday Inn Express in Springfield and the Best Western in Rutland have hung a welcome sign out for Fido. If you really want to spoil your furry friend, check into Phineas Swann Bed & Breakfast Inn & Cottages in Montgomery Center, renowned as New England’s most romantic pet-friendly inn with luxurious dog bed and complimentary rawhide upon arrival ( If Stowe’s your destination, the Golden Eagle Resort offers spacious grounds ideal for giving your dog plenty of room to stretch their legs and is easy walking distance to the Stowe Recreation Path and the dog-friendly Stowe “Quiet Path,” a favorite local hangout for the pooches (­recreationprograms/105.html). And, best of all, their pet-friendly accommodations are complete with dog bed, bowl, a treat and personalized doggie bags! Photo: Phineas Swann B&B, Inn & Cottages

    More Outdoor Adventures

  • Vermont has a well earned reputation for being the place to visit for world-class outdoor adventures of all types and variety that impart grins like a Cheshire cat. From human-powered recreation to leisure sports, motorized escapes to nature-based entertainment, you’ll want to come back again and again, whether for the mild or the wild side. For your daily dose of adrenaline, many of Vermont’s alpine resorts transform into adventure centers when the snow melts. The Pump House at Jay Peak is Vermont’s first water park, with 50,000 square feet of fun, featuring a myriad of slides and the near-vertical LaChute, which launches riders into a free-fall, reaching speeds of up to 40 mph with a force of 2.5 Gs ( ArborTrek Canopy Adventures at Smugglers’ Notch Resort lead riders on a zipline canopy tour, soaring through the forest on a series of ziplines, suspension bridges, and rappels ( And Okemo’s Timber Ripper, a 375 vertical-foot roller coaster descent along 3,100 feet of track, follows the contours of the mountain with added waves, camel backs, banking loops and a “twister” section ( Don’t miss Stowe Mountain Resort’s Alpine Slide, Bromley’s Aerial Adventure Park or the Sun Mountain Flyer, too (, For thrills Vermont-style, dial in and turn it up with one of these high mountain adventures.

    photo: Arbortrek Canopy Adventures

    Vermont is home to even more extreme pursuits: glide through our skies with a parachute on your back and gorgeous fall foliage beneath you; scale boulders in Bolton or climb the Notch (Smugglers’ Notch in Jeffersonville). Whether rock climbing, caving, hang gliding, whitewater rafting, or skydiving, Vermont is a thrill a minute destination for those with nerves of steel. Visit the Vermont Outdoor Guide Association for specifics and resources to plan an extreme outing (

    A scenic helicopter or hot air balloon ride awaits the more laid-back explorer eager to claim a unique vantage point. Silver Maple Lodge & Cottages in Fairlee ( offers a Balloon Inn Vermont Vacation option with lodging and a champagne balloon ride so you can leave the planning to your hosts and just enjoy the ride. Or, see why Frommer’s recommends the spectacular view of Vermont’s famous foliage from a balloon ride over Lake Champlain with Above Reality, Inc. Hot Air Balloon Rides as one of the World’s Best Ten Hot Air Balloon Adventures ( If rotors are more your style, Mansfield Heliflight of Milton offers one-hour sightseeing tours in a variety of aircraft ( Sit back in the bubble-windowed cabin of the four-seat Robinson R-44, equipped with headphones for ease of communications, and take in the views of the Green Mountains, the foliage and the lakes region. For a sampling of Vermont’s aerial sightseeing tours and locations, see page 80 of this guidebook.

    With all the incredible outdoor opportunities for fun and adventure in Vermont for humans and for pets, the thought of boredom is “prepawsterous!” In our easily accessible state, you can ramble all four corners of Vermont in one day and find fetchingly beautiful scenery coupled with pure, unadulterated tail-wagging fun around every bend. Or as your pooch might say, “throw me a bone – the road’s calling.”