Mountains, Bridges, Waterfalls, Round Barns, Highland Cattle, Buffalo, Craft Shops and Incredible Scenery Everywhere You Look! Jay Peak, the great sentinel of our area, is the axis around which this hilly tour begins. You'll see rich farmland, deeply wooded forests, covered bridges, Vermont’s largest round barn, Highland Cattle, a buffalo herd, and plenty of charming villages with shops and cafes. It is an all day drive – taking, at least 8 hours, especially when you take time to stop and enjoy the views. This is a full all day drive!
Begin in front of The Phineas Swann and head south on Route 118 toward the white Baptist Church, turn right and head up Rte 242 to Jay Peak. When you reach Jay Peak Resort turn into the Resort and bear right to the hotel complex and base lodge. Although the resort is undergoing some serious construction, you can still enjoy the Tram ride from their base camp to the top of the peak. On a clear day you can see Montreal in the distance. If you are staying at Phineas Swann, don’t forget to ask for their 2 for 1 tram coupons. After taking the Tram ride, head back out to Rte 242 and turn left towards the town of Jay.
When you reach Jay, (no more than a small collection of a few stores) you come to the intersection of Rte 242 and Cross Road, turn right on Cross Road heading toward Westfield. For several miles, the road is lined with hundred year old maple trees (which are still tapped by local farmers in sugaring season). It is a lovely drive which takes you to the intersection of Rte. 100 and North Hill Road (This is still Cross Road but with a different name!).
Turn left on Rte 100 and travel through Troy (stay on Rte 100) until your reach River Road on your left (it’s about 1/4 of mile past the intersection of Rte 100 and Rte 101 in Troy). The road becomes unpaved after about a mile. Go down the road until you pass the spectacular red painted covered bridge on your right – about 1/4 mile past this you will see an area where cars can pull off on the left hand side. This is where you stop to see Big Falls – the largest waterfall in the state. Just walk towards the sound of the falling water for a great view of the falls.
After viewing the falls, reverse direction to the red covered Bridge (River Road Covered Bridge) and go over the bridge on the Vielleux Road until you reach Rte 101. Turn left on 101. At this point you can stop again if you want to see Four Corners Swimming Hole. It is directly across from the Four Corners General Store – there is a large area to park on your left.
After visiting the swimming area, continue south on Rte 101 back to Troy, and when you reach 100 turn right going back toward Westfield. About 4 miles down the road you will see Balance Rock Road on your left (another dirt road). Turn onto this road and bear right staying on Balance Rock Road. This takes you to Balance Rock – a large bolder perfectly balanced on top of another – created by the retreating ice of the last ice age. After a quick view of Balance Rock, back track to Rte 100 and turn right onto Rte 100 heading toward Lowell. Notice Couture’s Maple Shop on your right – a business which has been run for generations by the same family. They have great maple products for sale and will burn your ears off talking about sugaring if you let them! About a mile or so before you reach Lowell you should see Highland Cattle on either one side or even both sides of the road.
When you reach Lowell, turn left onto Rte 58 heading toward Irasburg. About 10 miles down the road on your right you will see Robitaille Farm which has one of the largest round barns in the state. Keep your eye peeled since the farm pops up just behind a large wooded area which hides the farm until you are right on top of it. When you reach Rte 14 turn right and go exactly one mile until you see an unmarked dirt road on your right (the road is exactly 0.2 miles past the little bridge over Lords Creek). Turn onto this road and take it around to the right until you come to the sign that says “Bridge Closed” (you can’t miss it since the bridge had a huge pile of stones blocking entrance over the bridge.) On the left you will see yet another dirt road (which is in pretty bad shape so drive carefully!). Go up this road no more than a few hundred feet until you reach the gate to the fencing which surrounds a buffalo herd. You can get out of your car and walk around to the right of the fencing if you want a better view of the herd. After visiting the buffalo, backtrack to Rte 14 and turn left heading toward Craftsbury. About 10 miles down the road you will see on your left Craftsbury Road – turn onto this road and follow the signs to Craftsbury Common – a great place to have lunch. If you are travelling on a Saturday – they will have the weekly Farmer’s Market so you will find plenty to eat and lots of great crafts to buy.
Leave Craftsbury heading back to Rte 14 and continue south until you reach Collinsville Road on your right. Take this road heading toward Eden/Eden Mills. When you reach Rte 100 turn right on 100 and travel back toward Westfield until your reach Lowell. In Lowell turn onto Rte 58 heading west toward Montgomery Center. The road becomes unpaved after a couple of miles so drive carefully. Be sure to check out the vistas from the mountain. The road is actually the Hazen’s Notch Road built by one of George Washington Generals during the revolutionary war. You’ll follow a spectacular mountain stream on your right that eventually empties into the Missisquoi River many miles later. Stop in the notch and look for the stone marker that designates the end of the Bayley-Hazen Road. The marker is on the left side of the road, near the Long Trail crossing if you have the time, take a short walk through the woods on the Long Trail – the longest hiking path in the US other than the Appalachian Trail – the trail here is simply beautiful. The Bayley-Hazen Road later provided a way for settlers into these rugged hills. When you get back on the Hazen’s Notch Road (assuming you took a short walk on the Long trail) continue north until you reach Rte 118 in Montgomery Center. Turn left onto Rte 118 and bear left after the bridge over the Trout River back to the Phineas Swann on your left.