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28 Jul 2007
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Two More of the Best Scenic Drives in Vermont
I wrote an entry June 1 about two of the best scenic drives in Vermont and I'd like to add another two, both of which are the only two toll roads in the state.

The first one, Equinox Mountain Skyline Drive is in Arlington VT, in the southwestern part of the state. Skyline Drive starts from Historic Route 7 in the village of Sunderland. The elevation here at the bottom is 600 feet and by the time you are at the top, you will have risen another 3,200 feet in the five mile drive. There are beautiful panoramas along the way and the summit is amazing. The Battenkill river and the woods below look like miniatures.

This is a winding road built back in the 1940's. With all the environmental regulations we have now, it's safe to say that another road like this will never be built in Vermont. So, it's a rare opportunity to drive a road like this.

The toll is $7 per automobile for car and driver and
$2 per passenger with children under 12 free. Motorcycles are $6 per bike and driver, $2 per passenger.

There was some discussion here back in the 50's or 60's about building a road along the main spine of the Green Mountains similar to the Blue Ridge Parkway in the south but there was too much opposition to it.

The other toll road is the Mount Mansfield Toll Road in Stowe, right off Route 108 a few miles outside the village on the way to the ski areas. It climbs to the top of Mount Mansfield, the highest mountain in Vermont at nearly 4400 feet.

The climate here in the winter is very tough and you will see alpine vegetation that is thought to have survived from the ice age. In the winter, the toll road is closed to car traffic and it is a ski run at Stowe Ski Resort.

The drive takes about 20 to 30 minutes on a dirt road with a few pull-offs along the way where you can admire the view. At the top is a ranger station with a small museum with displays about alpine climate and vegetation.

Vermont's Long Trail, which runs the length of the state, north and south, goes along the ridge of Mount Mansfield. You can walk along the trail and at Frenchman's Pile, a pile of rocks marking the spot, you can see in 360 degrees. The Worcester Range in Vermont and the White Mountains are to the East, and the Adirondacks of NY are to the West. The city of Burlington and Lake Champlain look like miniatures beneath you.

The toll road was built in 1856 as the carriage road to transport guests to the Summit House Hotel. The hotel was was dismantled in 1958.

The toll is $21 per car (plus $6 per person over six people). Bicycles and motorcycles are not permitted on the road. The toll road is open daily 9 a.m. - 4 p.m., May 25 - October 14.

Looking north from the Mount Mansfield Toll Road in Stowe (photo from Wikipedia.org)

(c) 2007 Jeff Connor Grunberg Haus
posted by  grunhaus at  20:32