Fresh Tracks to Cozy Inns
We float over an ungroomed trail into a hardwood forest. Wooden trail signs–one for skiing, another for hiking, and others for mountain biking–appear and disappear, evidence of the busy secret life of these woods. All that activity is a credit to longtime innkeeper Tony Clark and fellow outdoor enthusiasts, who in 2006 succeeded in having the forests and hills of this area designated as Moosalamoo National Recreation Area, a 15,857-acre preserve in the heart of Green Mountain National Forest, including more than 70 miles of trails.
Our woodsy ramble abruptly gives way to bright sunshine and open space as we reach the frozen Goshen Dam. This snowscape demands that we break out the dark chocolate that we carry in our packs for just such moments. When we resume our journey on the Catamount Trail, the uneven ground underfoot suddenly yields to a carpet of corduroy, the Blueberry Hill Inn’s groomed cross-country ski trails. We look down to see moose scat on the rippled snow surface; we look up to see a moose, 15 feet away. We eye each other warily, until the big animal strolls lazily away into the forest.
The trail snakes gently through a hardwood forest until it delivers us to a bright-blue 200-year-old farmhouse. Stepping through the inn’s red front door, we’re greeted by the aromas of freshly baked chocolate-chip cookies and a crackling fire. “You’re just in time for wine and cheese,” Tony Clark says. He leads us through a rainforest-like atrium to our room, a spacious loft with windows overlooking the trails. We trade ski clothes for comfortable cotton and wool and come out to meet the other guests. We nosh in a remarkably civilized ritual of inn life, which in time morphs effortlessly into a four-course family-style meal in the wood-paneled dining room. There’s Vermont goat-cheese souffle and wild salmon baked with pesto and roasted grape tomatoes, topped off by blueberry cobbler and Ben & Jerry’s ice cream.
In between sips of wine, good conversation, and the incredible meal, I’m reminded of where we spent the earlier part of the day. Rugged, steep, ungroomed, unpatrolled: Backcountry skiing never tasted or felt so good.
Resources: Lodging on the Catamount Trail.