(This article first appeared in the October 10, 2013 print edition of the Vermont Standard)
By Anne Richter Arnold
Take It Outside
Fall is a wonderful time to be outside and it seems like there are almost as many fun things to do as in summer. With everyone busy with school and activities, it can be harder to find the time to do things together as a family, but Halloween and autumn seem to present quite a few kid-oriented events that the little ones enjoy and allow the adults to relive some of their childhood fun. Here are a few ideas for outings that everyone in the family is sure to enjoy:
Hathaway Corn Maze
Fall means corn and cornfields make the best mazes! Head over to Hathaway Farm in Rutland for Vermont’s largest corn maze. The 12-acre field has a new maze design this year that is challenging, but not to worry, as there are early exits in case you get stumped. If you get hungry (and you can find it) there is even a snack bar inside the maze in weekends. For younger kids who may not be up to the challenge of this “Olympic Maze” there is a minimaze and a play area to spend some time while waiting for the older siblings. Children will also love a visit to the Livestock Barn where they can meet many heritage breeds of animals including calves, sheep, chickens and bunnies.
The corn maze is open now through the end of October. The maze is open 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. (closes at 6) Monday through Friday and closed all day Tuesday. Saturday’s the maze is open 10 a.m. to 9 p.m. (closes at 11 p.m.) for extra fun and Moonlight Madness! Admission to Moonlight Madness (5 to 9 p.m.) includes a glow stick and a marshmallow roast. Go to hathawayfarm.com for more information.
Peak To Peak Hike
(Editor’s note: Due to the government shutdown the National Park Service is no longer coordinating the Peak to Peak, but the Upper Valley Trail Alliance has taken over. For info on this event readers can email info@uvtrails.)
If you and your family haven’t hiked here in Woodstock or haven’t hiked lately, on Oct. 19 you can join your neighbors at one or both of our local parks, Mount Peg and Faulkner Park, at the second annual Peak to Peak Hike.
The Woodstock Trails Partnership, in conjunction with the National Park Service and other community organizations, is holding the “Peak to Peak” hike on Saturday, Oct. 19. The goal of this foliage season hike is for those of all ages and hiking abilities, beginners or experienced, to learn about and enjoy one of Woodstock’s greatest resources — its easily accessible scenic trails. There will be guided hikes on both Mt. Tom and Mt. Peg, and the two peak, fivemile Peak to Peak Challenge, for those who want to see everything the Woodstock trails have to offer. And of course if you want to hike on your own, that is an option too.
Hike registration begins at 10 a.m. in the Green. Before you set off on your hike, or to fuel up afterwards, you can pick up some yummy trail snacks and refreshments from local vendors. You and your family can then hike with a guide or on your own to the top of Mount Tom, Mount Peg or both. Join the Peak to Peak Challenge at 10 a.m. and complete the five-mile hike up both of Woodstock’s scenic mountains. Shorter guided excursions up Mt. Tom and Mt. Peg leave at 10:30 a.m. and noon and include historical interpretation and activities for kids. Even if you don’t want to hike at this event, there will be representatives on the Green from local organizations, such as the Green Mountain Club and the Upper Valley Trails Alliance, who can give you lots of information about hiking, healthy living, history, and nature. There truly will be something for everyone and you’ll probably learn something you don’t know about your local trails!
This event is fun for all ages, especially kids. What a great way to get your family into hiking! New this year, there will be some supervised children’s art activities on both peaks. Artistree/Purple Crayon will be making bandannas and pinecone animals at the summit of Mt. Peg and at the peak of Mt. Tom there will be a painting class for budding artists. At the Green there will be a chance to make your own walking stick from wood culled as part of the National Park’s forest management program (provided the government shutdown is over).
Amanda Anderson, the National Park Service coordinator for the event, said “These trails are here for the benefit of the people who live in the community and we want to get as many people to experience and enjoy this great resource we have right here in the middle of town.” No matter your age or hiking ability, come join in the fun and the spirit of community at this event. This event is free and will be held rain or shine, even if the National Park is still closed.
Quechee Gorge Haunted Trail
On Saturday Oct. 19 (rain date Oct. 20) head over to Quechee Gorge for some Halloween-themed outdoor fun. The rangers at the state park, the chamber of commerce and the local businesses have made the annual Haunted Trail event even better this year. Start your spooky excursion with trick or treating at most all of the businesses at the Gorge from the gift shop to the village stores from 4-5 p.m., then take a haunted train ride from 5-6 p.m. (by donation). The Haunted Trail begins at the Quechee Gorge Visitor Center at 6 p.m. (younger kids can come from 6-7:30 p.m. for the less scary walk and kids 10-12 or older from 8-9:30 p.m. for the full-on scare).
In keeping with tradition, there is a theme behind the trail: This year’s story is about the magical community opening it’s doors to the non magical community to celebrate the approach of Halloween. However the magical residents of the Gorge, the Gorgamites, are upset by all the trash that has been left on the trail where they live and are trying to shut it down. They have stolen a baby dragon and the forest is in an uproar.
Gorgamites also have the ability to change shape so you never know who you are meeting on the trail! Be prepared to be scared and don’t be surprised if the kids want to go through again. This event is free or by donation and there will be plenty of parking at the Visitor Center, the gift shop and the Quechee Village stores.
For more information contact Lisa Fisher at Quechee Gorge State Park at (802) 295-2990 or by email at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Anne Rmichter Arnold is a fitness professional and local hiking guide. She can be reached at email@example.com.