Article by Contributor Tricia Bielinski
The Vermont Inn to Inn Walking Tour, where you walk through small towns and villages on a self-guided tour in southern Vermont, had been on my radar for quite some time and I was finally able to carve out the time this year.
I was craving the exercise, the fantastic views, the pretty surroundings, and most importantly, the solitude. Walking and hiking have long been my preferred method of therapy, you work out (quite literally) everything rolling around in your head.
This amazing experience is put on by the owners of four inns and encompasses a large 40-plus mile circle that is broken out into four days of walking.
Each morning starts with a hearty breakfast and is completed with a dinner comprising of specialty dishes prepared for the group exclusively. The bags are brought by each owner to the next inn, so you just have to carry your day pack. They book for groups of up to eight and run these concurrently so that each group starts the excursion at a different inn. You’ll be winding your way through a day’s worth of walking that brings you to your next stop and eventually making your way back to your original inn.
It was a beautiful early summer evening on June 21st when I arrived in Chester, Vermont at the Inn Victoria, the kind of day that delivers golden sunshine the color of honey in the late afternoon. I checked into my spacious room done in a Victoria style to go with the property and took my book down to the front porch to relax before dinner and meet my fellow walking peers.
After a fantastic meal, we sat with the owner and reviewed the itinerary for our first day. This happens each evening after dinner, a review of the next day’s itinerary. They map out the best routes from one inn to the next that take you through farmland, trails, wooded paths, dirt roads, and…hills. Lots of hills folks, you’ll want to take the stairs for the couple of months leading up to your trip.
It doesn’t get much more quaint or charming than Vermont in New England. Called the Green Mountain state for good reason, it provides the backdrop for all of your blue sky, country house, and maple syrup dreams. The opportunity to see area wildlife such as deer, bears, moose, turkeys and more exists each day. You’ll see the quintessential New England stone walls and open fields of wildflowers and listen to the babble of a brook that for a stretch you find your steps falling into a rhythm with.
There are many highlights of my journey. The Pinnacle is a spot that is 1,760 feet in elevation with panoramic views of Okemo Mountain. This was a perfect place to sit for a while and hydrate with some water and a snack. It is truly a zen experience, with just enough challenge to really make you feel accomplished at the end of each day.
I also loved the town of Weston with its country stores and the historic Weston Theatre Company located in the center of the town. This company began operating during the Great Depression when neighbors would come together to put on plays to raise people’s spirits. People come from all over to see the various shows put on every year.
It should be said though that what I really enjoyed about this aside from the beautiful setting I was privileged enough to walk in every day, was that everyone truly hikes their own hike. You don’t need to move as a group and you are free to be independent and create your own agenda. If you feel like lingering in a town center for lunch or shopping, you can do that. If you need to rest you can cop a squat at any point that’s comfortable to do so. You only need to be at your inn by 6 p.m. for dinner.
The dinners were amazing, featuring dishes made with local bounty (maple balsamic dressing for your salad anyone?) while you catch up with the rest of your group on that day’s events. Each inn is BYOB so if you plan to enjoy a cold beer or glass of wine on the inn porch before dinner or with your meal, you can bring that as a part of your luggage that is delivered to you each day. You’re also served a full breakfast each morning and are offered snacks to take on the road. I found that these meals provided the perfect amount of socialization with the rest of my group after spending the day on my own.
Not one for lengthy walks or hikes? Each owner provides you an opportunity to take advantage of certain drop-off points so you can customize the length.
Important note: While I was in the middle of writing this article, we had some serious rains here in New England and much of the area where the Inn to Inn Walking Tour takes place was flooded. I checked in with the organizer and he assured me they were all doing well, thankful for the community in which they live coming together to help repair. Most of the area where the walking takes place was not impacted, and while they had to cancel a couple of tours they have now resumed. One of the best ways to help is to participate in this great journey. They run these tours starting in May and running through October, each one four days in length.
If you’re interested in helping in a different way, please consider clicking here.
Also, that lovely little historic theatre I mentioned in Weston was absolutely devastated by the rains and flooding. You can help the rebuilding effort by clicking here.