July 20, 2024
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Welcoming the Dreaded “Stick Season” with a Great Song in Vermont

Stick Season in Vermont

The Skeleton Trees are Here – Enjoying Vermont's Stick Season

The Vermont Fall foliage season typically starts in early October and runs through mid-November. Over this time, the leaves change from green to yellow, orange and red, creating a beautiful display of color. Then “stick season” arrives and the days get shorter and darker. But don't despair, read on…

The vibrant fall foliage has peaked and dropped in Vermont, leaving bare branches reaching up to grey November skies. Locals call it “stick season” – that dull span between autumn's blast of color and winter's blanket of snow. The trees look downright spooky, especially on foggy days, with their skeletal limbs clawing at the clouds.

“Stick Season” in Vermont, might look bleak at first, but look at the bright side

While stick season may seem bleak at first glance, there's still plenty of fun to be had in the Green Mountain State during November. Here are some ways to make the most of Vermont's stick season:

  • Go hiking and enjoy the unobstructed views. Leaf-peeping crowds have vanished and with all those bare branches, you can spot distant vistas that were hidden before. Just pack an extra layer against the chill.
  • Visit a Vermont maple sugar shack and learn about maple sugaring season, which taps into high gear in November. Take a tour and sample syrup, candy, and other tasty maple treats.
  • Bundle up and head to a cozy cafe, pub, or restaurant with friends. Play board games, sip hot beverages loaded with Vermont maple syrup, and enjoy the simple pleasures of convivial indoor hangouts.
  • Check out a museum or gallery and catch up on some culture. From the Shelburne Museum's folk art collections to the Robert Frost Stone House Museum in Shaftsbury, there are plenty of engaging indoor activities.
  • Get ahead on holiday shopping at Vermont's many craft fairs happening in November. From Middlebury to Montpelier, artisan goods abound that say “Made in Vermont” – perfect for out-of-state gift-giving.
  • Volunteer at a local food shelf or soup kitchen. Give back to the community during a season when needs increase. You'll meet neighbors and glow with the warmth of helping others.

The best time to visit northeastern Vermont is in late October or early November when the leaves are at peak fall colors

The most popular places for leaf peeping include Stowe, Montpelier and the Northeast Kingdom. You can also take an autumn drive through the Northeast Kingdom and enjoy the changing colors of trees along the way. If you're planning a trip in November, during “stick season” you might just be pushing your luck a bit! Rain and winds can raise havoc with the gorgeous colors of fall in Vermont.

November is the perfect time to visit Vermont's covered bridges. With foliage gone, these architectural gems are more visible and make for great photo backdrops. Check out the 100+ historic covered bridges across the state, like the photogenic 188-foot-long Middlebury Bridge. Or take a drive through the Bennington area to see the three covered bridges along Covered Bridge Road.

Plan a Vermont Overnight Getaway

Consider an overnight getaway to try out one of Vermont's many cozy country inns, many of which offer special November rates and packages. Treat yourself to locavore cuisine and stay in a historic property like the Pitcher Inn in Warren or Rabbit Hill Inn in Lower Waterford. Enjoy empty roads for scenic drives, then relax by the parlor fire with a good book.

Old Stagecoach Inn

While ski resorts won't open until mid-November at the earliest, you can still take a gondola ride up Killington Peak or Stowe's Mount Mansfield and take in the dramatic vistas over rolling mountains, dotted with bare hardwoods. Pack a picnic lunch to enjoy at the summit lodge. The chilled air feels refreshing. Get out on the water for a serene paddle-boarding experience along Lake Champlain or one of Vermont's other waterways that remain open through November. Rent a kayak or canoe and float peacefully through the sticks reflecting off the mirrored water surface.

Believe it or not, there's even a song about stick season in Vermont

Who would've thought a simple folk song could capture the imagination of so many – but that's exactly what happened with local singer Noah Kahan's breakout hit “Stick Season.”

When Kahan finally released the full recording in 2022, “Stick Season” took off faster than the fall leaves dropping from Vermont's trees. Propelled by social media, the melancholy yet hopeful song went viral globally, amassing hundreds of millions of streams.

Kahan's poignant lyrics and harmonies seemed to capture the quiet nostalgia that the season evokes among Vermonters. Practically overnight, his ode to these sleepy weeks of skeletal trees and steel-grey skies has become an unofficial anthem for the Green Mountain State. Who could have predicted such sudden success?

No need to hibernate. Get out and enjoy Vermont during “stick season”

No need to hibernate – embrace Vermont's late fall charms. Stroll a sleepy college town like Middlebury or Burlington. Shop at farmers markets and harvest festivals. Sip cider and enjoy the natural beauty of stick season.

Stick season may look dull, but Vermont offers many ways to brighten grey November days. Get creative and make the most of the fall-to-winter transition. Before you know it, snowflakes will be flying again!

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