Exploring Stowe’s Dog Days of Summer with Your Best Friend
Fido and Mittens are part of the family. And while Mittens would likely prefer to stay home always with some fresh you-know-what, a bowl of cat food, and an occasional visitor, Fido could definitely enjoy a Vermont vacation just as much as you. While his life may be filled with delicious treats, cozy naps, and plenty of running around the neighborhood, breaking up his typical routine for some exciting away time with the family will make-his-year! So pack some snacks, toys, and hit the road. When you get to Stowe, this is what you’ll want to do to make it the best trip for you and him: hike, swim, pamper, and play.
A dog has to walk, and you came to Stowe to get closer to the outdoors, so get on the trail together, daily. Here are some favorite spots:
Stowe Quiet Path (super-easy). For a laid-back stroll along a crystalline river and some fields of towering corn, this is the spot to start. Almost everyone using the Quiet Path has a dog or two in tow, and no leashes are required if your guy plays well with others. It’s the closest thing Stowe has to a dog-park. Nice views for you of the backside of the village, and plenty of open space for a great game of fetch. If you want to venture further, and don’t mind the distraction of kids on bikes or couples on skates, you can hop on the acclaimed 5.5 mile Stowe Recreation Path (paved, leashes required) – which connects to the Quiet Path – and catch some different scenery as you continue your stroll.
Cady Hill Forest (easy/moderate). When you want to get into the woods but not up in the mountains, try this treasure, which is located almost right in the middle of town, but offers 11 acres of classic Vermont greenery and calm. It is a hill, so be prepared to start heading upwards, but the trails were designed by mountain bikers so they switchback comfortably. The trails are narrow, and this is a popular destination for mountain bikers, so just be sure to step aside when they approach. If Fido has a tendency to chase bikes or ignore your calls to move aside, then it’s probably best to keep him on a leash for this hike.
Stowe Pinnacle & Mount Mansfield (moderate/difficult). These are two different mountains, and two different hikes, on opposite sides of town. What they have in common is that they are both signature destinations for hiking in Stowe, and both offer amazingly rewarding views after a couple hours of uphill trekking. If hiking’s your thing, you and Fido should try them both. If hiking’s only sort-of your thing, choose one and give it a go. Mount Mansfield is the highest peak in Vermont, and note that you can get to the top without walking up the first couple thousand feet: take Stowe Mountain Resort’s gondola, and hike the rest. We promise, no one will call you a cheater; just make sure your Fido is comfortable traveling for about 15 minutes in an enclosed ski lift, or it might feel like a really long ride!
You came to the mountains, but what’s a summer vacation without some beach time? If your dog loves to jump-in, paddle-around or wade-about, check out these swimming holes that will satisfy your desire for a dip, and his too:
West Branch River. This river is accessible from the Quiet Path and Rec Path in multiple spots. Depth varies, so just keep an eye out as you’re walking for a spot that suits you. You’ll notice some well-kept paths to popular entry points, but feel free to blaze your own. Bring a picnic and a beach blanket. You just might find a place you’ll want to stay a while, and Fido might enjoy a nap in the open air.
Bingham Falls. Technically, this is the West Branch River, but it’s located further towards the mountain and has very different personality than the river you get to know in the village. A short hike into the woods from a parking lot on Rte 108, and you’ll find this mountain waterfall with several deep dipping pools below it. The trails to the swimmable areas are steep, but well maintained with “staircases” made of large river rocks. When you find your perfect place, claim a big rock to call your camp, and take a plunge into the crisp (and cold!) mountain water. Very refreshing. Very summer.
Enjoying a massage or two while on vacation? You can treat Fido to a serene spa day too… just at a different kind of spa. Local groomers (try Dogs, Etc in Stowe’s lower village) will spoil your pooch with a bath, blow dry, trim, facial, and other glamorous primping. For something extra special, the Spa at Topnotch offers a Rover Reiki Massage – wow!
Want to do some things on your vacation that are just not dog-safe (golf or zip line tour, for example)? Fido does not have to sit alone – get him out to make and play with some doggie friends at a local dog camp (try Stowe Kennel Kare). If Fido prefers hanging with people-friends, get a local dog sitter for the day (try All Paws on Deck or ask your concierge for a recommendation). Either way, he’ll be so pleasantly pooped at the end of the day, everyone will be bound for a blissfully dreamy night…
Note: No matter where you go or what you do, please be kind to you, your pooch, and other people – bring water, snacks, a leash (you won’t always need to keep Fido on it, but in certain situations it’s just polite), and poop-scoop bags so you don’t leave behind your own trails!