MONTGOMERY — Looking for a safe local recreational activity during the pandemic?
Then consider taking the six road tours, four easy walks and two hikes in Franklin County described in the pocket-size guidebook, "In the Middle of the Mountains: Scenic Roads & Trails in the Montgomery-Jay Peak Area."
The 12 excursions—in the towns of Enosburg, Montgomery and Richford—lead to “the most beautiful scenery in the northernmost Green Mountains,” according to the 208-page guide.
Published by the Montgomery Recreation Board and illustrated with 28 color photos by the award-winning photographer Eileen Oktavec, the book provides detailed descriptions of mountain views, ponds, waterfalls, cascades, seven historic covered bridges and distinctive 19th-century architecture.
One road tour follows Route 242, which crosses the Green Mountains at the 2,220-foot-high Jay Pass, the highest point on any public road in the region. The highway provides continuing views of the highest mountains in far-northern Vermont, including the 3,858-foot Jay Peak. It also passes Purrier Farm Road, an “easy walk” leading to a dramatic 180-degree Green Mountain vista.
Another road tour follows Route 58 through the steep-walled Hazen’s Notch—another Green Mountains pass—and offers continuing views of eight major summits of the Green Mountain chain, including the Jay Massif. From Hazen’s Notch, two hikes follow the Long Trail, the famed 272-mile footpath that runs on or near the Green Mountain crest from Massachusetts to Canada. One hike goes up 3,223-foot Haystack Mountain, whose two viewpoints together provide views in every direction. The vistas “rival those from Jay Peak and Belvidere Mountain as the best in the region,” according to the guide.
Still another road tour follows Route 118 to one of Montgomery’s five 19th-century covered bridges and to an “easy walk” along the turbulent cascades of the ironically named Pacific Brook.
A short tour showcases two more covered bridges and historic Federal, Gothic Revival, Italianate and Queen Anne buildings in Montgomery village. An undemanding .7-mile hike from the village offers close views of the west flank of the Jay Massif.
Another road tour leads to two more “easy walks”: one along Hill West Road with uninterrupted views of the Cold Hollow Mountains, the other beside Crystal Falls, whose exciting cascades flow beneath another historic covered bridge.
The sixth tour takes you to two more covered bridges and a wide view of the Jay Massif sweeping up from the Trout River Valley.
The guidebook describes a total of eight road tours, seven easy walks and 15 hikes in western Orleans, eastern Franklin and northern Lamoille counties.
It was written by the landscape designer Robert Gillmore, who has also authored the Great Walks guides to day hikes in seven national parks, including Acadia, in Maine.
All the book's proceeds go to the Montgomery Recreation Department to support its popular children's summer camp and other programs.
Selling for $12.95, the guide includes five detailed maps and an extensive index.
It’s available at the Eloquent Page in St. Albans, the Flying Disk in Enosburg and Sylvester’s market in Montgomery as well as bookstores and other retailers in northern Vermont.
You can also order copies directly by sending a check or money order payable to the Town of Montgomery, along with your mailing address, to: Montgomery Recreation Department, PO Box 356, Montgomery Center, VT 05471-0356. Shipping is free.