Hubbardton Battlefield State Historic Site.
Many of our guests at the October Country Inn come to Vermont to sample its rich and varied place in U.S. history. The only Revolutionary War battle fought in Vermont took place at Hubbardton in 1777. Visit the Hubbardton Battlefield State Historic Site on the July 8 – 9 weekend, and witness reenactors stage this fight on Vermont soil between the British and American troops. The Battle of Hubbardton involved approximately 2,230 troops–1,000 to 1,200 Americans, 850 British, and 180 Germans fighting for the British. It resulted in the deaths of 41 American, 50 British, and 10 German soldiers. Of the 244 wounded, 96 were American, 134 British, and 14 German. The British took 234 American prisoners. Total casualties, including prisoners, were roughly 27 percent of all participating troops.
British reenactors on the march.
In June 1777 British Lt. Gen. John Burgoyne began implementing his plan to split New England from the rest of the Colonies. The plan was for Burgoyne’s troops to head south on Lake Champlain and join two other British leaders, one of whom was traveling from the west along the Mohawk Valley and the other from the north up the Hudson River. All were to meet following their victories in Albany, New York. As Burgoyne drew near Mount Independence and Fort Ticonderoga in early July, Major General Arthur St. Clair made the tough decision to withdraw the American Northern Department Army from these forts and save his troops for another encounter under more advantageous circumstances with the British. The roughly 4,000 American soldiers retreated as quickly as possible with little time to gather up supplies and under the cover of darkness on the nights of July 5th and 6th.
Reenacting the Colonial battle strategy.
Major General St. Clair and the main army marched over 20 miles to reach the hills of Hubbardton. There he appointed Colonel Seth Warner of the Green Mountain Boys to take command of an expanded rear guard of 1,000 to 1,200 soldiers, while the main army continued southward to Castleton. Rear guards have been a standard military security strategy to protect retreating troops. Their mission is to delay the enemy in their pursuit, force the enemy to deploy all their troops into action with the rear guard, engage the enemy in such a way as to avoid close combat, and to then withdraw safely as quickly as possible. The American rear guard successfully accomplished its mission, fully deploying the pursuing British, delaying them long enough so St. Clair and his main army could safely retreat southward. The rear guard soldiers also skillfully disengaged their enemy, fighting the British to a near standstill, and avoiding further American casualties and pursuit by the British.
Slack Hill Trail vista.
Summer is over, here at the October Country Inn. Clear skies and cooler weather usher in the changing of the forest’s colors from brilliant greens to muted reds, oranges and yellows. This will soon turn to white as the temperature continues to drop and Winter’s snowfall sets in. We’ve been putting off an afternoon’s exploration of the Slack Hill Trails all Summer, and realized that window was soon to close if we didn’t seize the moment. The Slack Hill Trails in Coolidge State Park are a short drive from here. The entrance to the Park is a narrow, steep paved road leading off of Route 100A about 6 miles south of Bridgewater Corners junction at Rt. 100A and U.S. Route 4.
The trail can be accessed from the Park entrance station, or a mile up the park road across from the picnic area. The trail is well-marked with blue blazes, and is easy to follow, even when the entire forest floor is covered with a blanket of fallen leaves. When starting at the park entrance station trailhead, the trail climbs moderately through the mixed hardwood forest for about 1/2 mile when you will come to a marked junction. A signpost shows the way to a .3 mile spur trail that returns to the park entrance station. The main trail continues in the opposite direction climbing moderately in places before descending a short distance to a vista overlook near the 2,174 foot summit of Slack Hill. A log bench invites you to take a break. The summit of Mt. Ascutney is seen in the distance.
Leaf covered Slack Hill Trail winds through mixed hardwood forest.
The trail continues, alternately climbing and descending, for another mile to the picnic area parking lot. It’s another .8 of a mile downhill along the paved park road back to the starting point for a total loop distance of 3.2 miles. A 2 mile out-and-back to the Slack Hill vista point option is to start from, and return to the picnic area trailhead. Or, the loop option can be extended from the point where the trail meets the picnic area road by picking up the CCC trail and following it back to the park entrance station for a total loop distance of 3.6 miles. The park is open year round, snowshoeing or cross-country skiing is a Winter activity option. During the Summer, a day use fee may be charged.
It’s Winter once more at the October Country Inn, and it looks like there may be a lot more snow to play in than last Winter. We love to play in the snow. There are so many ways: alpine, telemark, or cross-county skiing, sledding or tubing, snowshoeing, fat-tire biking, snowmobiling, snowboarding. Add snowskating to the list. Snowskates come in many varieties but are distinctive in that the rider is not attached to the deck. No bindings.
The two most common types of snowskate are the single deck and the bideck. For mountain riding, the bideck is the way to go. This snowskate has a top skateboard deck which the rider stands on and a lower ski deck, which is in contact with the snow. Bideck snowskates were reportedly invented by a Stevens Pass (Washington) local named Steve Frink in 1994. Ridden in much the same way as a skateboard, bideck snowskates are gaining in popularity. The device itself is way less expensive that a snowboard alone, and you don’t need bindings or special boots. The savings is attractive, and you can ride these things anywhere you can ride a regular snowboard.
Unfortunately, some ski resorts don’t allow you to ride snowskates on their trails. It’s kind of like the opposition to snowboarding that initially occurred. Killington, our home mountain, falls into the “does not allow” category. For all their bluster about being the “Beast of the East,” and a place for adventure, turns out they don’t walk what they talk. Killington was also slow to allow snowboarding. I guess leadership at Killington is still of the old-school variety. However, you can ride them at Stratton or Jay Peak if you don’t mind a little travel. Or, much closer to home, at Woodstock’s Suicide Six, the first ski resort in the U.S. to allow snowboarding. Suicide Six welcomes snowskate riders. It’s nice to be welcomed.
From the Billings Farm this 24 mile ride involves about 1,100 feet of climbing. This really sweet ride ranks second on the October Country Inn list of great local bike rides. There are two route choices. The 24 mile loop starts and ends at the Billings Farm just outside of Woodstock. The route winds up and down along narrow shouldered, but lightly traveled country roads through classic Vermont hill farm, and river valley scenery. This ride can be increased to 42.2 miles when combined with an out-and-back from the October Country Inn.
Starting from the Billings Farm’s overflow parking lot. Exit the parking lot; turn right on Old River Rd for a short distance. Bear right onto, and follow Route 12 north until you reach the “Y” intersection with Pomfret Rd. (0.6 miles). Turn right on Pomfret Rd and follow it until Pomfret Rd. turns to the right when you reach the Teago General Store (2.6 miles). Follow Pomfret Rd. as it begins to climb, winding through incredibly beautiful hill farm country. When you reach the top of the climb (5.8 miles), shift into your big ring for a long downhill cruise. This leg starts out winding through open pasture land, and then funnels into a narrow creek side valley. Upon reaching the White River (11.8 miles), the road bends to the right, and follows the White River. This road dead ends at a stop sign (12.4 miles) at Quechee/West Hartford Rd. To the left is a bridge that crosses the White River, leads to Route 14, and the West Hartford General Store.
Turn right onto the Quechee/West Hartford Rd. (unmarked) and begin to climb. At the top (15.9 miles) shift into high gear once again for a shorter downhill sprint. Keep on the lookout for a paved road on the right that intersects with the Quechee/West Hartford Rd. at a very shallow angle (17.6 miles). Carefully turn right on this road (Quechee Main St., unmarked), and almost double back in the direction you came. Follow this road through and beyond the Quechee Country Club. Turn right onto River Rd. (21.0 miles) when you reach the Taftsville covered bridge. At this point, River Rd. is hard packed dirt following the Ottauquechee River. River Rd. turns to pavement (23.2 miles). Turn right into the Billings Farm overflow parking lot to complete the ride (24.0 miles). Download Pomfret Loop map. Download Pomfret Loop Directions.
Former US President Calvin Coolidge’s homestead.
October Country Inn has long been a home-base for visiting cyclists. Quiet country roads, stunning scenery, and friendly local drivers make for great cycling. Visit our website for a complete selection of cycling routes in the area. Distances range from 109 miles to 9 miles. This blog post’s featured cycling route is a local favorite. It’s the October Country Inn’s home route. It’s short enough for an experienced cyclist to get in a morning ride before breakfast, and long enough to slow down the pace and enjoy the surroundings. Every memorial weekend, the Killington Stage Race uses this course. For Vermont, this route is relatively easy. It consists of about 830 feet of elevation gain over seven miles, with several long downhill stretches. The route consists of three legs that form an 18 mile triangular loop. Despite its modest overall distance, this route has a lot of interesting features, not the least of which is the remarkable Vermont scenery.
The first leg of the route passes by the historic Calvin Coolidge homesite. A good place to take a break near the top of the initial 6 mile, 450 foot climb. There is a restaurant, an old-fashioned general store, a museum, and the Plymouth cheese factory at the site. The second leg of the route passes by scenic Woodward Reservoir. At the start of the third leg of the route, a small commercial area contains two convenience stores, a deli, a restaurant, and bicycle shop. This final leg follows the Ottauquechee River.
From October Country Inn, head west on Upper Road to its intersection with Bridgewater Center Road (.11 miles), turn left onto Bridgewater Center Road to its intersection with U.S. Route 4 (.03 miles), turn left to the intersection with Route 100A (.21 miles), turn right and proceed along 100A to the intersection with Route 100 (7.36 miles), proceed along Route 100 to the intersection with U.S. Route 4 (5.63 miles), turn right and proceed along U.S. Route 4 back to Bridgewater Center Road (5.67 miles), turn left on Bridgewater Center Road, right on Upper Road back to October Country Inn. Map & directions.