Get Outside: Tubing and Hiking in Manchester
July 10, 2020
Tubing the Battenkill River and hiking trails in Manchester Vermont are ideal ways to enjoy summer in the Green Mountains.
It’s been 137 years since Manchester first promoted itself as a summer destination. In 1883, Franklin Orvis, owner of the Equinox House (now Equinox Resort), marketed Manchester to visitors, describing the area as being “delightfully situated in a valley three miles wide.”
What made Manchester attractive back then—its mountains and scenic beauty—is equally vital, if not more so, to visitors today.
While this summer is clearly not the same, there are still plenty of ways to enjoy the outdoors. Here are suggestions for hiking, tubing, and walking trails in Manchester Vermont and nearby towns.
Go Tubing on the Battenkill River
The Battenkill River rises in Dorset and meanders southwest through Manchester, Sunderland, and Arlington before it flows into the Hudson River in Greenwich, New York. The 59.4-mile river draws fly-fishermen (and women!), kayakers, swimmers, and tubers every summer. An easy spot to access the river is at the West Arlington Covered Bridge swimming hole, where you can paddle or tube west toward New York. The river’s current is calm and offers plenty of scenery and wildlife along the way. Big Big on the Battenkill, a tubing and kayaking outfitter, provides rentals and van transportation from Shushan, New York (located 20 minutes from Manchester) to the West Arlington Covered Bridge. Reservations required. Visit www.bigbigonthebattenkill.com.
Getting there: From Route 7A in Manchester, travel 8 miles to Arlington. Turn right on Route 313 west and travel about 4.5 miles to the covered bridge, which will be on your left.
Reach the Summit on Skyline Drive
Equinox Skyline Drive is a 5.2-mile toll road that takes you to the 3,848-foot summit of Equinox Mountain where there are panoramic views, trails, and the Saint Bruno Scenic Viewing Center. Built in the 1940s, Skyline Drive is the longest, privately-owned paved road in the United States. The road and wooded property—about 7,000 acres—is owned by the Carthusian monks. Shortly before reaching the summit, there’s a flat stretch of road where you can see the secluded monastery to the southwest. Visit www.equinoxmountain.com.
Getting there: From Manchester, take Route 7A south about 4 miles toward Sunderland. The entrance to the toll road will be on your right.
Hike to Prospect Rock
Put Prospect Rock on your list of hiking trails in Manchester Vermont. With an elevation of about 2,000 feet, Prospect Rock is an intermediate hike that is three miles round-trip. While you’ll come across small waterfalls and streams on your way up, Prospect Rock saves the best for last with stellar views of Manchester and Equinox Mountain. Visit www.fs.usda.gov
Getting there: From Manchester, take Route 11/30 to East Manchester Road. Take an immediate left onto Rootville Road and go to the end. Park on the side of the road and follow the trail entrance straight ahead, with the water tower on your right.
Chasing Waterfalls in Lye Brook Wilderness
Lye Brook Falls in Manchester is a 125-foot waterfall—one of the highest in the state—that’s located deep in woods of the 15,680-acre Lye Brook Wilderness in the Green Mountain National Forest. You need to hike 2.2 miles to access the falls, but the trail is relatively flat as it follows an old railroad bed. The waterfall consists of a series of high drops, ledges, and cascades. Slippery rocks make the falls dangerous, and climbing the falls is not recommended. Arriving to this scenic spot is still worth every step of the way. Visit www.fs.usda.gov.
Getting there: From Route 7 in Manchester, travel about a one-quarter mile east on Route 11/30 to East Manchester Road. Follow East Manchester Road south for about a mile and turn left onto Glen Road, just before the overpass. Follow Glen Road and bear right at the fork onto the Lye Brook Access Road. The trailhead is located to the east of the parking lot at the end of the Lye Brook Access Road.
Explore Gardens and Trails at Hildene, The Lincoln Family Home
Hildene in Manchester is a Georgian revival mansion built in 1905 by President Abraham and Mary Todd Lincoln’s son, Robert. The 412-acre estate features stunning flower gardens, house tours, a museum store, and walkable trails. The home, Pullman car, gardens, trails, and museum store are currently open for visitors (limited capacities, masks required). Visit hildene.org.
Getting there: Hildene is located off Route 7A at 1055 Hildene Road in Manchester.
Walk the Trails at Equinox Pond
Located near the base of Mount Equinox in Manchester, Equinox Pond and the surrounding land are part of the Equinox Preservation Trust, which was established in 1996 and now includes more than 914 acres of protected land.
There’s a trail system near the pond for hiking, mountain biking, and limited horseback riding. Swimming, kayaking, camping, campfires, and boating are not permitted. Dogs must be leashed on Pond Loop or when approaching other trail users. Fishing at Equinox Pond is by permission only and is catch and release with barbless hooks. (Contact the Equinox Resort for permission.) Visit www.equinoxpreservationtrust.org.
Getting there: Parking is available in a designated lot off West Union Street in Manchester Village, just south of Burr and Burton Academy.
What Else: Shop, Eat, Stay
This family-owned, independent bookstore opened its doors in 1976. Located on Main Street in Manchester Center, the Northshire offers an impressive children’s section, plus plenty of fiction, nonfiction, hiking guides, cookbooks, magazines, and more for grown-ups. Author events are part of the mix, and the bookstore is home to the Bonnet & Main Café, which serves up coffee, sandwiches, salads, snacks, and more. Outdoor seating available. Please wear a mask while inside the store. Visit www.northshire.com.
For dinner, the Barrows House on Route 30 in nearby Dorset has converted its lush lawn into a lovely outdoor dining area. Indoor dining is available, too. Guests are asked to wear masks while arriving and leaving, and when getting up from their tables.
Other dining options include the Chantecleer Restaurant in East Dorset (reopening July 24) and The Copper Grouse and Mystic Cafe & Wine Bar in Manchester.
Hampton Inn and Suites
The Hampton Inn and Suites in Manchester is a 97-room hotel within walking distance to local shops and restaurants. Enjoy spacious rooms, an indoor pool and whirlpool, outdoor lounge area, and more. Guests are offered breakfast “to go” bags, and morning coffee is served from behind the front desk. The hotel has implemented even more rigorous cleaning and hygiene protocols to help guests feel safe and rest easy (the Manchester Hampton Inn won the AAA Housekeeping 2020 award). Visit www.hilton.com.
Sponsorship Disclosure: My family and I received a complimentary stay at the Hampton Inn & Suites in Manchester in June.
Are you planning on tubing or exploring hiking trails in Manchester Vermont and the surrounding area this summer? Let me know if you have any questions! You can email me at [email protected].