Nature’s Highways: Upland Trails at Windekind
We use the word “upland’ to denote the foothills region between the valley below and the high peaks above.
This upland country is an abundant mix of topography, forest, plant and animal diversity. The land rises to open, sun-filled ridgelines only to plummet, in the space of a couple of hundred yards, into deep and dark ravines cut by the endlessly falling water. In between are the remains of old upland meadows marked by meandering stonewalls that show us the patchwork patterns of the old farms gone by. From Cobble Hill, about a fifteen-minute ski or walk from the Farm, guests can view the Adirondacks in New York State, Mount Mansfield, the city of Burlington, Lake Champlain and vast tracts of mountains, lakes and farmland.
Living in this upland region are bear, deer and the occasional fleeting bobcat, waddling porcupine and wandering moose—often seen with a mouth full of dripping grasses. Guests are apt to surprise a deer (and themselves) while spotting the tracks of rabbits, small fisher cats and many other woodland critters at home in these hills.
In winter and summer the bird diversity, encouraged by an active bird feeding and habitat development program at the Farm, is spectacular and highly visible. As many as twenty different species of trees grow in this region, varieties ranging from the uplifting boughs of the graceful sugar maples to conifers forming dense clumps of green, brown and black.
Near the farm is a Norway spruce plantation, planted by depression-era CCC workers, that conveys a feeling of Scandinavian forest. Adjoining the spruce forest are many examples of first growth woods taking over old pasture, where the fast growers, like the ubiquitous poplar, white and gray birch, red maple, thorn apple, alders and white pine claim light and moister while the older stands are slowly maturing into a climax forest of Northern Hardwoods: maple, ash, yellow birch and black cherry. Hikers will also encounter many variations of grasses and shrubs while exploring the Farm landscape, including a great diversity of wetland plants and wild flowers.
Guests, who travel on our trail system even 700 feet from the Farm, will discover a 40-foot waterfall and a rushing mountain brook below. Beyond this brook is a second, larger one that cuts even deeper as it tumbles along—deep down at the bottom are boulders as big as a house. Remarkably, small mountain trout live in these brooks, making for a gourmet dinner delight.
At Windekind we maintain a library of books, maps and DVDs on Vermont’s history and landscape, hiking, Nordic and downhill skiing, snowshoeing, biking, and kayaking. We supply snowshoes for guest use and we can also help you with equipment rentals. We are also happy to offer information, based on a lifetime of familiarity with the immediate area, the region and Vermont, to help you realize your vacation goals.