What could be better than one day’s outing taking in both eight of Vermont’s famed covered bridges and a sampling of Vermont’s culinary prowess!
When you leave west Hill House head down West Hill Road or the Sugarbush Access Road to Route 100 then turn left, north, up to Waitsfield. Be sure to stop at the Farmers’ Market if it is Saturday morning between Memorial Day and Columbus Day, then drive past the pond at the Big Picture Theater, down the hill then turn right onto Bridge Street where you will travel through the handsome Big Eddy Bridge. Stop on the other side, get out and look behind you to get a great photo of the Bridge and the white steeple of the Waitsfield Church in the background.
Continue on Bridge Street then at the fork keep left onto Joslin Hill Road, then left again at the T intersection onto North Road. Even though the pavement changes to gravel keep straight ahead at the next intersection and you will soon come to one of the littlest covered bridges to be found – the Pine Brook Bridge. (This is a bridge most visitors miss.)
Continue on what is North Road to a “Y” intersection where you take the left fork onto Meadow Road over the Mad River on a normal bridge back to Route 100 where you turn right. You will shortly come to the intersection of Route 100 and 100B, where you need to turn left staying on Route 100 towards Waterbury and I89 North. When you come to the “T” intersection with Route 2 in Waterbury turn left and take care, as there is a 25 mph speed limit through the town. After passing through two sets of lights and under the railway bridge follow Route 100 to the right over I89.
Keep going north on Route 100 for just over two miles or so, past Ben & Jerry’s and the Cabot Cheese outlet for now, and you’ll see the Cold Hollow Cider Mill on your right. Sample the cider, be sure to try some cider donuts, and then check out the nearby Grand View Winery.
Now turn back and head south again (i.e. turn left as you exit), drive for just under a mile and see the Cabot Cheese Outlet on the right. Make a nice circuit of the many cheese and snack samples and stuff yourself with the freebies. Then buy some of their great cheese. It’ll make you feel less guilty about all the free cheese you just ate. You can also check out Champlain Chocolates (not so many samples!), Danforth Pewter and some other stores.
Continue south again and in about a mile in Waterbury Center, high on a hill to the right, stands our state’s most visited attraction, BEN and JERRY’S ice cream factory. Take the tour; get your tiny little sample, which will whet the appetite for a big serving at their scoop shop. Having dessert first, as they say, is good – for life is uncertain. Be sure to check out the “graveyard’ of discontinued flavors!
Then retrace you route back through Waterbury. Take a left at the 2nd traffic lights beside the village green and stop in at the beautifully restored Waterbury Train Station, which is now a Green Mountain Coffee coffeehouse.
Continue your way on Route 2 (but do not turn back south on Route 100) where for part of the time you will be driving near the Winooski River. You will pass through Middlesex where you will see the Red Hen Bakery on your right, just in case you still need a coffee or maybe a pastry or cookie!
After about another six miles you will drive into the smallest State Capital in the USA and Route 2 becomes State Street here. Park and admire the gold domed, granite State House (open weekdays) and the great bookstores, the restaurants including a few that are part of the New England Culinary Institute. (You will need quarters for the parking meters or pay and display parking.) The Capital Grounds on the left just after the bridge is great place for a coffee or sandwich (cash only).
Continue to the traffic lights at Main Street and turn right following the signs for Route 2 across the river, then continue straight at those lights onto Route 12 towards Northfield. As you enter Northfield Falls look for Cox Brook Road on your right and as you head up that road you will find the Upper Coxbrook Bridge. This is the only spot in Vermont where one can still view one covered bridge from another. The view through the Newell Bridge, also known as the Lower Coxbrook Bridge to the Station Bridge just to the east makes a great photo.
Retrace your route back and turn right onto Route 12, then after a quarter mile south the Slaughter House Bridge can be seen. Continue south on Route 12 through Northfield, home to Norwich University, then a right fork onto route 12A south. Tiny Mosely Bridge crosses Stoney Brook 0.8 mile west of Route 12A, on Stoney Brook Road, 1.4 miles south of the fork onto Route 12A.
Retracing back to Route 12A, travel five miles further south to Roxbury, turn right (west) onto the Mountain Road toward Warren. (Note that the Roxbury side of the hill is not paved, and both sides are steep.) At the four way intersection on the other side of the mountain – great views of the valley from the top, by the way – turn left and follow East Warren Road to Brook Road and down into Warren Village.
(This route is not recommended in bad weather and it can be impassable during mud season. The alternative is to head back north on Route 12A/12 to Montpelier, turn left at the lights and take I89 North back to Exit 9, then Route 100B/100 to Warren.)
Turn left past the Pitcher Inn and in about half a mile you will come to the Lincoln Gap Bridge on the right over the Mad River. Drive through the bridge, swing left on the far side, and then when you get back to Route 100 turn left then immediately right onto the Lincoln Gap Road. Drive about one and a half miles then take West Hill Road on your right up the steep hill back to West Hill House.
You can then regale your friends with the day’s adventure. You can proudly boast that you have seen eight covered bridges in one day, but you don’t need to ‘fess up to how much ice cream, cheese, donuts and pastries you have eaten along the way!