Mount Snow and the West River Valley

By our backroads expert, Sharon O’Connor of Backroad Discovery Tours

Newfane Country Store

Newfane Country Store

Savor your morning at Mount Snow Resort (Rte.100, West Dover, VT). The mountain rises to 3,556 ft. In 1954, Walt Schoenknecht, borrowed $20 to use as a down-payment; hence, the former Reuben Snows Farm was transformed into a ski slope. It has since evolved into a year round sports mecca & haven for special fun events. The resort offers scenic chair lift rides, Mt. Bike schools & trails, a climbing wall, BMX & skate park, & 40 mi. of hiking trails. The Grand Summit Hotel, on premises, has a year-round outdoor pool, gourmet restaurant & 400 beautifully appointed rooms. Mt. Snow airport provides private tours & Mt. Snow Country Club is a beautiful public golf course.

Bear in Chair at Mary Meyer

Bear in Chair at Mary Meyer

From the entrance to Mt. Snow, take rte. 100N (9.3mi) to N. Wardsboro. After a general store on the left & Post Office on the right, Rte. 100 will make a sharp left turn, however, go straight across the bridge & turn right. Travel 2.7mi. & turn left onto Newfane Rd. Almost immediately to the right, look for a home with a variety of unusual lawn decor & a giant croquet set-up. On this bucolic dirt road, people will wave as you pass & you will enjoy Vt. at its best (8.1mi).

Enter Newfane, county seat or “shire” town. Explore the town Green & surrounds. The Village Market offers walking maps. Established in 1774, the village was called “Fane” & was moved from the hills to the flats in 1825, using ox-drawn sleighs. The entire village is on the National Register of Historic Places. Notice the Chittenden Bank. In 1884, bricks were hauled in by ox cart; the front bricks were 5 cents, the sides were 3 cents & the back were 2 cents (totaling $6,650). Since the town jail once adjoined a hotel, inmates got the same excellent food as the hotel guests! When visiting, Teddy Roosevelt remarked, “Some day when I’ve got a lot of reading to do & need a rest, I’m coming up here to commit some mild crime!” The Historical Society displays the famous people who were “bred & fed” here (Wed-Sun 12-5). Newfane Country Store has everything from penny candy to hundreds of handmade quilts & serves as the town’s original post office.

The Newfane Flea Market, 1 mi. north on Rte. 30, is the largest in NE & was started in the 1960s when the 5-acre parcel was offered as payment for a $500 grocery bill! (Open Sundays).

Travel north through Harmonyville & Townshend. The latter was twice devastated by fire; therefore many of the buildings are relatively new; a 2-acre village Green is the “happening” place. Grace Cottage Hospital (Vermont’s smallest) is located here. Mary Meyers Toy Factory/Showroom, 1 mile north, is VT’s largest stuffed toy maker & began as a family business over 60 yrs. ago.

Townshend Lake State Park

Townshend Lake State Park

Beyond Mary Meyer, you will see the Scott Covered Bridge (VT’s longest single span bridge). Soon after the bridge, turn left & cross into Townshend Lake State Park, a 41-acre, recreation area with swimming, boating, sailboarding, & hiking. There is a 2.7 mi. steep trail leading to Bald Mt., which meanders past waterfalls, chutes & pools. Upon leaving the park notice the 1700ft. wedge-shaped dam built in 1961 by the Army Corps of Engineers.

Continuing north, you will enter the burg of West Townshend, ancestral home of William Howard Taft. There is a photogenic church just past the 3 corners. The Windham Hill Inn, located in one of Vermont’s prettiest settings, is 1 mile up Windham Hill Rd.

North of town (1.2mi), turn left onto Rte.100S, looping back to Mt. Snow. The road passes through mountain wilderness & by boulder-strewn streams, known for their brook trout. Robert Frost stated that residents of this area are “bilingual;” they speak Yankee & American. Evening meal is still supper & noon meal is dinner. Children can be seen playing dice or hopscotch, fisherman are out catching their evening meal & many residents are enjoying life, watching the world pass by, from their front porches. This is truly… unspoiled Vermont!

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