Ridges, Boots, And A Movie, All In A Day: Upper Valley VT-NH
You’re off to a leisurely start, time enough to indulge in that extra cup of coffee, fill your water bottles or your Camelbak, and download a map and some instructions. Next, remind yourself what day of the week it is (Friday and Saturday being optimal) and take a peak at show times for the drive-in. This little adventure will take you into PG night-time hours.
If you’re in serious budget-cinching mode, take a dinner picnic—picnic tables dot the route—and movie popcorn.
It’s noon by now. Your boots are in the car, right? Trekking poles? A light jacket? Super great.
Unthinkable. Yes, indeedee, Muddy Boots is starting you off with food. No other reason, but it’s lunch time. The fact that most diners—in this case a local café—close around 2 pm might also have something to do with it.
Scuttle your butt to East Thetford VT, however you want to get there. It’s at Exit 14 on I-91, but a Route 5 approach along the Connecticut River is definitely more scenic. You want Isabell’s Café. It’s right in the center of “town”.
Next stop: Appalachian Trail.
From East Thetford, drive across the bridge into NH. The town on the NH side is Lyme. Take a moment to admire the town and perhaps nip into Lyme Country Store if you need a snack resupply. (Muddy Boots can vouch for the homemade donuts. They’re in a big jar on the counter.)
Make your way past the church, following the signs to the Dartmouth Skiway. You will drive through Lyme Center. As you approach the Skiway, note the sign on the right that says Appalachian Trail—the trail is exactly at that spot.
Grab your daypack and trekking poles, and head upwards into the woods. You will be ascending to Holt’s Ledge on the Appalachian Trail. Ascending is the operative word here. Perk yourself up with a great view of the surrounding hills, and hike down the Pappoose ski run. This is a 2.2 mile roundtrip hikelet, less if you skip the side trail to Trapper John shelter. It clocks at 1.5 hours, including view time.
By the way, if you’re unable to scramble to the Ledge, natch, Muddy Boots has an alternative method of getting the legs moving: spend some time wandering around Lyme on foot. There’s the green, of course, for an enthusiastic ramble, a beautiful set of carriage stalls on Route 10 right behind the Lyme Congregational Church, and Lyme Creamery Antiques. Lots of ways to putter around and many curiosities to check out.
On a somewhat related topic, Lyme is home to a sanctuary for orphaned bear cubs. You may like to read a news article or two, or even one of the books, Out On A Limb or In The Company Of Bears. They are fascinating reading, but the sanctuary is not open to visitors.
At Lyme town center and drive north along Route 10 (NH side of the river) to Orford NH.
Dawdle, amble, mosey,
While you gawk at Orford’s “Ridge”, a spectacular series of 8 Federal-Style Houses skirting a “mall”, large trees and a green. Ahhhh, prosperity, wealth, leisure…
Cross the river from Orford NH to Fairlee VT.
Wheel north on Route 5 towards Bradford. As you drive, you’ll observe on the left hand side of the road—marvel of marvels—a drive-in movie theater. Your eyes are not deceiving you.
Pause momentarily to ponder the evening’s offering and to check on show times. You will be returning here at dusk.
Onwards. When you get to the southern fringes of Bradford, a traffic light will appear. Take a right. Slap next to the railroad tracks stands a hodge-podge of a red building. Don’t be put off by the signs advertising pig feed and fencing. This is a local business called Farm-Way. It is
If you’re in the groove, you might easily spend a few hours here. Too much grooving might get a little spendy for limited-budgeters, since Farm-Way carries a large range of high-quality outdoor clothing (not to mention Adirondack chairs and dog necessities), but the boot selection is non pareil.
In the adventuring boot category, Farm-Way might even carry every brand known to humankind. Being forewarned that it is a footwear emporium with can-do staff and not a boot-fitting salon with technical expertise, prep up with Great Boots, Happy Feet and Feet First: How to Shop for Adventure Boots You’ll Love: so you can scout out a pair for yourself. If you see a pair you like, follow the advice in Sock It Up And Beat The Blisters: make sure you try on adventuring boots with the adventuring socks you want to wear them with.
Picnic time. Go north on Route 5 to Newbury VT. Cross the river once more into Haverhill NH, yet another historic town with marvelous architecture.
If you’re still deciding where to picnic, you’ll want to pull in to the Bedell Bridge State Park on the north end of town, a lush and spectacular spot. The approach is signed, and then you will get to the river’s edge via a dirt road through corn fields.
And, if you’re still hungrier or desert-hungry, keep going north along Route 10; go through North Haverhill, and, as you reach farmland, you will also reach Hatchland Farms on the left with the tastiest dairy-made ice cream for miles around.
You’ve been waiting all day, haven’t you?
For the drive-in movie? Well, you know how to get there and you’ve been salivating (over dinner) at the prospect of the PG offering. Now that it’s dusk
Do the 50’s thing…
Photo credits. Featured image and left, The End: CC BY 2.0 by Monkeywing via Flickr. Town of Lyme, NH: CC BY-SA 2.0 by Magicpiano via Wikimedia Commons. Photos of Holt’s Ledge Trail, Orford NH, Farm-Way, and Haverhill NH: ©DustyCarMuddyBoots.com, all rights reserved. Outdoor movie theater at night, Fairlee: CC BY 2.0 by Rebecca Siegel via Flickr.