10 things to do in winter in Vermont’s Northeast Kingdom

Wildflower Inn view from Heaven's Bench

Wildflower Inn view from Heaven’s Bench

For views and charm,  is the place to be. Perched on tree-lined Darling Hill Road in Vermont’s Northeast Kingdom with expansive views wherever you look, it couldn’t be in a better spot. The Wildflower, run by Jim and Mary O’Reilly for the past 30 years, holds onto the magic and sense of history and tradition that has attracted so many to the glorious state of Vermont. It made for a perfect home base as my husband Highroad Cam and I explored the wonderful town of Burke and its surrounding area.

Here are 10 great things to do in the area known as Vermont’s Northeast Kingdom:

1. Stay, eat or just relax with hot cocoa by the wood stove or outdoor fire at the Wildflower Inn
At the inn’s restaurant, , we gazed at the mountain ranges and the expansive valley as we enjoyed their paleo breakfast—sautéed vegetables topped with local bacon, poached eggs, hollandaise sauce with guacamole, blueberry pancakes, Belgian waffles with fruit, and of course, Vermont maple syrup.

Dinner at Juniper’s was just as good, with organic local chicken over roasted vegetables and Brussels sprout salad with cranberries with nearby ‘s famous blue cheese.

On the Kingdom Trails

On the Kingdom Trails

2. Go Fat Biking or cross-country skiing
Another bonus of The Wildflower Inn is its access to the , which wind around and through the property. One of our favorite things to do in the Northeast Kingdom is cross-country ski with our dog Baci on the trails, which traverse over 500 acres of private property. In the summer, the Kingdom Trails are a mountain biker’s dream. Fat biking has also become the rage. Cam took a demo on a fat bike from  (they rent mountain bikes, too) and rode the trails. He said the bike was “awesome” and that the massive and gnarly tires “gripped the packed snow beautifully!”

Fat biking at Wildflower

Fat biking at Wildflower

3. Go ice climbing at Lake Willoughby
The steep sides of the area’s glacier-cut mountains make for thrilling ice climbing in the frozen winter. We met with John Kascienza of and got an overview of the sport with him. John teaches wilderness medicine—or how to handle (and prevent) a crisis in the woods. John can “show you the ropes” if you need a guide at this mecca for ice climbing on the west wall of Mt. Pisgah overlooking Lake Willoughby. Of course if conditions aren’t perfect, he won’t go, and so far, his record is excellent.

Highroad Cam at Q Burke

Highroad Cam at Q Burke

4. Ski or snowboard at Q Burke Ski Resort
Burke has the famously laid-back , now called  and , known for training gold medalist Mikaela Shiffrin, among others. At the heart is a good size mountain (elevation: 3267 feet) with nicely cut trails that offer magical views of the Willoughby Gap and, from Burke’s East Bowl, New Hampshire’s towering Mount Washington. The mountain also has two fun hangouts for food and drink: the  and the . Being there for the in April is great fun. Last year, the theme was “Pirates,” and we were happy to see as many female scoundrels as male vying for the coveted season pass award.

The WilloBurke Inn
Another place to stay is  , conveniently located in East Burke Village close to Q Burke Mountain Resort. It is lovingly attended and decorated in a modern farmhouse style with flat screen tv’s. The newest inn in East Burke is a cozy nine-room bed and breakfast located on Route 114 in a renovated farmhouse. Cam and I have stayed in the inn and the apartment, both pet-friendly and love it.

Frozen Lake Willoughby

Frozen Lake Willoughby

5. Just take a drive and soak in the amazing scenery!Darling Hill Road, Mountain Road, Kirby Road—you can’t go wrong. is so gorgeous that it prompted a Vermont senator, back in 1947, to dub it the “Kingdom of Vermont.” Rolling hills, impressive granite mountains and unlimited pastures make up this incredibly scenic landscape, where it’s easy to imagine being King or Queen in your very own rural kingdom. (That’s why its called the Northeast Kingdom!)

Darling Hill Road, Burke, VT

Darling Hill Road, Burke, VT

6. Have an incredible massage…
…and stay for the sauna at  on Darling Hill Road. Massage specialist David does  Swedish massage and his partner Dominica’s specialty is myofascial release. Downtown in East Burke is Nancy Feltus (802-467-3562), who has massaged the US Nordic Ski Team and is pet-friendly. She allows dogs in her studio and can show you how to help your hound with massage.

Snowshoeing at Lake Willoughby

Snowshoeing at Lake Willoughby

7. Drive north on Route 5A and go snowshoeing
Go snowshoeing on a trail near Lake Willoughby and see the spectacular glacier-cut lake, which reminds me of a fjord, and bring your dog!

Pet-friendly tip: If you can’t do a dog-friendly activity, take your dog to Jeff Scarpino who owns and operates  doggie day care, where your pup will have the most personal service, like: individual new and sparkling clean fenced kennels with luxury deep beds and romping time under the pine trees with other dogs in the supervised yard. (He lives there so he’s always at home at night!)

Off The Beaten Trail kennel

Off The Beaten Trail kennel

8. Have dinner and a local craft beer at the Burke Publick House
The  in East Burke (formerly the Pub Outback) is a happening place with good hearty food and famous Vermont craft beers-  perfect after a day out on the mountain.

9. Experience St. Johnsbury
Whether it’s with its great variety of talented entertainers, the , , , or shopping, this town can keep you busy. St. J is only 20 minutes from Burke and well worth the visit.

Dog Chapel on Dog Mountain

Dog Chapel on Dog Mountain

10. Pay your respects at the Dog Chapel on Dog Mountain
in St. Johnsbury is one of a kind. You can also shop and hike with your dog at this special site, which was once the home of the late and great artist Stephen Huneck. Visit the gallery and the chapel and you’ll definitely meet fellow animal-lovers and their pets. Stephen Huneck’s love of dogs and his artistic woodcuts were actually an inspiration to me as I developed into a .

Tune in this summer
“Come back in the summer and look for our upcoming post on summer in the Northeast Kingdom!”
-GeorgieJet, Highroad Cam and Baci

More photos:

Georgie Jet

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About the Author

Georgie Jet
Hi, I'm Georgette, a writer and artist based in Connecticut and Vermont's Northeast Kingdom. I'm also Hundredbacklinks’s sister, who quite possibly ignited his first spark of interest in traveling to exotic places when at the impressionable age of 14, he saw my four-week trip to Australia last three years! Whether skiing in the mountains, snorkeling in the tropics, or exploring historical cities, I'm always game for traveling and the privilege of writing for my brother's website Hundredbacklinks.com. Of course, coming home to my husband Cam, our dog Indigo, and my three cats Ace, Chammy and Kashmir is great, too! Check out my animal portraits at .

2 Comments on "10 things to do in winter in Vermont’s Northeast Kingdom"

  1. Nice article, Georgette! You should do the Brandon/Rochester/Hancock/Middlebury area sometime. Hope to see you soon. June

  2. Hello how do I advertise on your website ? I own an Inn in East Burke Vermont . My Inn is right on the Kingdom Trails.

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