For Petra Cliffs owners Steve and Andrea Charest, purchasing the climbing and bouldering school wasn't just a good business opportunity, but a way to add value to the local climbing community. Avid climbers themselves, they helped the facility develop into a place where beginners feel comfortable grabbing their first grips, but also one where advanced climbers and boulderers still feel challenged. Within the 8,500-square-foot space, visitors can climb, take lessons, tackle a high-ropes course, or even work out on strength-training equipment. Of course, the staff puts safety and knowledge above all else, and they teach and keep up with professional development courses so they don't miss learning about new protocols or new rock formations that may have evolved in the last five years.
Though members of the McCullough family began conserving their 500 acres for recreation in 1978, the land’s story begins even earlier. In 1796, Thomas Chittenden—Vermont's first governor—built his estate on the current site of Catamount Outdoor Family Center, and his old stone house still remains. Today, Jim and Lucy McCullough use the historic home as a bed and breakfast, inviting visitors to relax in three guest rooms and a sunroom overlooking rolling meadows and coniferous forests. In a formal dining room, servers ferry plates of seasonal fruits and vegetables from the homestead and local farms; in the master parlor, a baby grand piano and fireplace pay homage to historic pastimes and confuse visiting time travelers.
Outside, a panorama of the Green Mountains and the Winooski River Valley spreads out to the east. To the west, the Adirondacks stand against the sky and Lake Champlain unfolds across the horizon. The surrounding hills, woodlands, and croplands boast more than 35 kilometers of trails, where park staffers set visitors loose to hike, cycle, snowshoe, and cross-country ski at different times throughout the year.
Staffers equip visitors for outdoor exploits in the park store, renting cycling and skiing apparel as well as Bear-to-English dictionaries. Furthering a mission to educate others in local wildlife, they also host events such as cross-country cyclocross races and group trail runs. During day camps, children and adults can learn to navigate trails on mountain bikes, middle- and high-school students can practice trail running, and kids 12 and younger can grow to appreciate ecological conservation practices and nature journaling.
What do you do with 17,000 gallons of water frozen into the shape of a towering waterfall? At the Northern Lights Rock and Ice, you climb it. The winter ice-climbing wall is just one of the seasonal and year-round features in store at this outdoor wonderland, which caters to individuals, families, and corporate retreats. Also on hand: dual 450-foot zip-line wires that crown a multi-level challenge course. Come summer, there's more climbing to be had on their "L"-shaped climbing wall with separate wall faces connected at the top by a cat's walk beam 25 feet in the air. Summiting the wall and crossing the beam requires strength, determination, and an ability to slip into the feline mind without succumbing to an obsession for catnip. Their experienced staff boasts 60 years of combined experience to ensure a safe and exciting adventure. See their "What to Bring" page for additional information.
The resort at Pico Mountain has come a long way since it opened on Thanksgiving morning in 1937. It was a blustery day, and skiers held tight to a 1,200-foot towrope powered by a Hudson motorcar engine as they rose up the mountainside and tried to get reception on their rotary-dial phones. Today, the mountain is striped with 52 trails and seven lifts, including two high-speed detachable quads. Gentle learning terrain beckons newbies, smooth cruisers give intermediate skiers an easy ride, classically narrow New England steeps entice beginning and intermediate skiers, and a double-black-diamond trail challenges advanced athletes. Snowboarders and freestyle skiers interested in tricks can use the jumps, boxes, and rails in the Triple Slope terrain park, and the Snow Sports School sharpens the skills of first-timers and seasoned pros alike.
Although the resort has advanced in size and technology, it maintains a personalized, small-mountain charm. The trails all converge at one convenient central base area whose lodge boasts a sports center with a heated pool and a sauna. Guests can grab a beer and a burger or slice of pizza beside the crackling stone fireplace at the Last Run Lounge before retiring to their hotel room or condo.
Kelly "Kel" Rossiter résumé includes time at a corporation, in the military, and at a Zen monastery, but the work experience most relevant to his current job took place outside. He has led outdoor trips in 12 countries on four continents—and as the owner of Adventure Spirit, he continues these trips in the Northeast US. He and his team of guides oversee ice-climbing, mountain-climbing, and rock-climbing adventures throughout the region, from New York's Adirondack Mountains to Vermont's Bristol Cliffs. Their trips include expert guidance and all necessary gear, which saves climbers the hassle of making their own ropes from the hair that grows on untended rock faces.
Framed by the tree-spotted foothills of Vermont, Rocky Ridge Golf Club’s 18-hole course unfurls across a verdant expanse of rolling farmland. Throughout the course, elevated fairways and greens offer breathtaking panoramas of the surrounding mountains, as well as a safe lookout from which golfers can detect rival armies of croquet players. Flower beds and rocky outcrops along short-grass corridors further accent the layout’s bucolic environs. Clubbers looking for lessons can seek out golf pro Ed Coleman, who roams the grounds in a zen state attained through 20 years of coaching experience and aromatherapy that uses the odor of freshly mowed fairways. Cozy, green-side seating and tables nestled in shaded porches await golfers for post-round relaxing at the clubhouse restaurant.