Three Days in Danby, VT
We started late on our Columbus Day journey and, by virtue of not traveling up route 93 into New Hampshire like most folks, we didn’t see a lot of traffic. We decided on Massachusetts’ Mohawk Trail and got on route 2A, then route 2, and proceeded west.
We stopped at one of the few rest stops on route 2 — the Johnny Appleseed Visitor Center, between exit 35 and 34 at the Lancaster/Leominster line. There’s a small statue of Johnny Appleseed (John Chapman) in front of the welcome center.
Once we hit Erving, MA, the color really started to pick up along the Mohawk Trail and we stopped at Freight House Antiques and Café. We spent a bit of time there and Lisa found a ceramic cat that she had to have.
On the road again, we saw that the hills above route 2 were mostly at peak. We stopped along the road a few times to take a few pictures. The final time was at the eastern summit pull-out on route 2. The low-lying fog merged with the clouds while weaving its way through the valley.
Once we got on route 7 to head north in Williamstown, MA, the light fast departed. We passed through several towns that we will wait for better weather to visit.
The Silas Griffith Inn in Danby, VT, was our overnight destination. It provides breakfast for the guests and that was the best part of starting out the next morning. The sitting rooms are set up for adults or kids and they had a wide-screen TV with every game console you could imagine hooked to it. So if it rains and you stick around the common room, the kids shouldn’t drive you too nuts.
The weather has been less than perfect this Columbus Day weekend and this morning was no exception. I woke early with my hopes being dashed soon after opening the front door. Still, I walked around Danby and, even with the misty morning, the colors were very pronounced. In this area, yellows and oranges are predominant.
This morning’s trip took us to Manchester Center, VT, and Hildene, the home of Abraham Lincoln’s son Robert Todd Lincoln. This is a great place to visit. On our way to the new barns on the property, we talked with a couple from Ireland who wondered if they had brought the Irish weather with them. We commiserated over the weather and talked about other places to visit and things to see.
After visiting Hildene, we drove up route 11 to the east side of the Green Mountain National Forest and found our way to Peru, VT. We stopped for lunch at the JJ Hapgood Store on Main Street and had a slice of their brick- fired pizza (very good).
Across the street is the Congregational church with nice color and I took a few shots of this. We then headed up Hapgood Pond Road that leads to Mad Tom Notch Road. There are mostly yellows in the area and reds are few to be seen. The sun was peeking out every once in a while.
We drove up to the Appalachian Trail/Long Trail crossing, but since the road turns to large rocks we decided to turn back (2,435 feet). This trail crossing is accessible from the Danby Mt. Tabor Road, but the pavement gives way to gravel just before the crossing. We went down to Hapgood Pond State Park and found a nice picnic and swimming/fishing area. Even with the Columbus Day weekend there were only four cars parked here.
We continued on the Danby Mt. Tabor road (also known as NF10). As we drove along this scenic road, I saw many horse barns and a cemetery. Along the side of a road we saw a blue flag. I looked over to the side and there was a very nice waterfall that I caught several nice shots of before the light dropped below the mountaintop.
A mile past this is the Big Branch overlook with a large pullout. We went to the fenced overlook but from there you can’t really see anything. There is a trail down (not too hard, but the climb up was a little strenuous). The path is also not marked, so don’t try it in the dark and be sure to wear appropriate shoes.
We continued down the path and met Nancy and Jim from Colorado at the bottom. We traded stories and found out they were Yankee subscribers from way back. Jim’s thought on the New England reds and the Colorado golds was, “How do you compare a beautiful blond to a beautiful redhead?” I agreed. Both are beautiful in their own way…
We woke up to a partly cloudy morning and said good-bye to the Silas Griffith Inn. This is a definite come-back-to place.
We hit the road and drove south to Arlington, VT, where we located two covered bridges and I found a stream behind an antique store that used to be a grist mill.
We then stopped at the Norman Rockwell exhibit on route 7A, which, by the way, is in a sugar shack! Yes, I don’t kid you, though our opinion is if you want Norman Rockwell, then go to Stockbridge, MA. I will say the apple cider doughnuts in Arlington are great, as are the rest of the edibles they have there.
We traveled west over route 313 west into New York and south down route 22 until we picked up route 2 east back into the Berkshires. Don’t miss the winding, steep road between the New York border and Williamstown, MA. The biggest trouble I had was not hitting the guardrail while gawking.
We feel an entire day needs to be given to this northwest corner of Massachusetts, especially MASS MoCA (Massachusetts Museum of Contemporary Art) in North Adams and Williams College in Williamstown.
We stopped at the Golden Eagle Restaurant in North Adams for dinner with the sun setting and, while the food was very good and their signature mulled apple cider drink was very warming on a cool afternoon (44 degrees), the service was a little distracted. Maybe it was the valley views?
We continued toward home and the sun soon set. My only disappointment was that the color all day had been less than stellar. I had found great color the day before, but today the colors were muted all through the southwest Vermont into New York and back along the Mohawk Trail.
This drive has been adapted from Jeff Folger’s 2008 blog post on the Mohawk Trail and Danby, Vermont.