The Upper Connecticut River Valley is a region of stunning natural beauty, and recreational opportunities abound, whether you enjoy skiing, biking, boating, snowshoeing, hiking, snowmobiling, or even spelunking.
The Upper Valley teems with walking trails, from gentle strolls to ambitious backpacking hikes. The renowned Appalachian Trail crosses through the region, from Norwich, Vermont into Hanover, and “through-hikers” are a frequent sight in the summertime. A favorite snowmobile, bike and footpath enjoyed by many locals is the 60-mile Northern Rail Trail, running from Lebanon to Boscawan along a wonderfully scenic former railroad line. The Storrs Pond ring trail in Hanover is a moderately easy loop favored by fitness buffs, while the Cross Rivendell Trail, running from Orford, New Hampshire, to Vershire, Vermont, offers 36 miles of rural beauty and great views. Information on local hiking, biking, and ski trails is available through the Upper Valley Trails Alliance.
Boaters, canoeists, and kayakers can explore the region’s picturesque waterways, including Mascoma Lake in New Hampshire and lakes Fairlee and Morey in Vermont, along with the scenic Connecticut River that gives the Upper Valley its name. Several campgrounds and inns located on the banks of the Connecticut River offer canoe access and assistance in planning inn-to-inn excursions down the river.
For day visitors, the region offers many opportunities for casual sightseeing. Quechee Gorge, “The Grand Canyon of the East,” attracts tourists from around the world, providing a spectacular reminder of nature’s power. Carved by the Ottauquechee River, the dramatic ravine is located only 15 minutes west in Vermont. Thirty minutes east in Grafton, New Hampshire, is Ruggles Mine, open for exploration by adventurous spelunkers of all ages.
In the summer, old-time train enthusiasts can enjoy a scenic excursion on the White River Flyer, operating weekend trips from White River Junction to Pomponoosuc Mills in East Thetford.
Golfers can choose from a variety of local courses, including the Hanover Country Club, the Lake Morey Country Club in Fairlee, Vermont, and the fun and affordable nine-hole Carter Country Club in Lebanon.
New Hampshire and Vermont boast the best skiing in the eastern U.S. Downhill skiiers can choose from among 19 alpine ski resorts in New Hampshire and an equal number in Vermont, while both states offer many hundreds of miles of cross-country ski trails to explore. Just a mile from downtown Lebanon, the Storrs Hill Ski Area offers fine downhill skiing, a snowboard park and the area’s only ski jumps. Whaleback Ski Area is located five minutes to the south on Interstate 89, and Dartmouth Skiway is 20 minutes to the north in Lyme.