We were lucky to have a beautiful sunny day at the Mountain Top Inn today. Located in Chittenden in Central Vermont, the Inn is small, but has all of the amenities of a resort. It's open year round with cross country skiing in the winter and lessons in dressage, cross country, trail rides, carriage driving, hiking, kayaking, canoeing and pontoon boats in the summer. The inn sits in an idyllic spot. It looks like what I would think of as Vermont with a lake and rolling hills covered with trees.
Part of the main inn was a barn in the 1870s. It sits high on a green hill overlooking the of the Green Mountain National Forest and Chittenden Reservoir, which I'll just call the lake.
We arrived in time for a morning trail ride to a spot where riders can stop to have lunch and look out over the inn, lake and mountains. I rode Cassanova, a mixed breed, who was a delight to ride. Cassanova has a really smooth canter and was also very surefooted. We did a lot of climbing up steep mountain trails to get to our lookout spots.
Mike, who is a great horseman and has experience leading rides all over the country, took our small group out. I rode with two other ladies and one of their daughters, a 10-year-old who was a great little rider and jumper.
We started out with a trot and canter in the nearby field, before we started to climb. Mike pointed out some of the plants and talked about the many moose that he sees along the trail. I was on the lookout and hoping to spot one or two. I saw a deer instead, right before we took off on a short canter. We did a lot of walking and trotting in the beginning of the ride.
Once we reached the lookout point, I was taken aback at first. It was truly beautiful. The clouds hung low over the hills. I wished that we had brought our picnic with us today, so that we could stop and enjoy it a little more.
After soaking in the scenery, we headed down the trails. The Green Mountain National Forest stretches from Massachusetts to Quebec. The neat thing about riding in Vermont is that there are a lot of dirt roads with little traffic and great trails through the woods, which are a good combination for trail riding.
After trail riding, we headed down to the lake for kayaking and then a pontoon boat ride. There is a small beach area by the lake where families were gathered eating, fishing and lying out. I briefly kayaked. It was very quiet and peaceful out on the lake with the surrounding mountains.
We had a larger group join us on the pontoon boat ride, and Roger told us a little more about the area and the resort. Roger grew up in Chittenden and enjoys fishing on the property, where President Eisenhower came to fish in the 1950s. We got some really pretty footage of the mountains from the lake as the sun was setting.
Back at the lodge, I settled into my High Meadows suite, which has great views. There is also a shower with two shower heads and a large Jacuzzi tub, ideal to help riders soothe their muscles after a day of riding.
The rooms at the Mountain Top are decorated like a cozy mountain lodge, with big leather couches, equestrian-themed pillows, animal print wallpaper, fireplaces and flat screen televisions. It's a nice mix of comfort and luxury.
At dinner, I had a salad drizzled with fresh berries, duck glazed with maple syrup and homemade chocolate ice cream. The restaurant at the Mountain Top is part of the Vermont Fresh network, meaning that many of the ingredients are grown locally in Vermont. The vegetables tasted really fresh and healthy, countering the effects of the triple scoop of chocolate ice cream with whipped cream.
Now it is time to sleep because tomorrow is another big day on the mountain.
Darley Newman is the host of the Emmy Award-winning Public Television series Equitrekking?, which takes viewers on horseback riding vacations around the world. Equitrekking is broadcast on PBS stations and on international networks. Visit www.equitrekking.com and www.equitrekkingtravel.com.
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