Spring in Vermont is different then most places. Different in a good way!
Vermonters get to indulge in warmer temperatures, longer days and more outdoor activities. But Vermonters also get a few added bonuses- snow and maple syrup!
We also get some negatives in spring that most other places don’t experience. Mud season is the number one culprit. This is when the snow is melting, the ground is thawing and the road conditions are rough. If your commute involves dirt roads, even getting home from work can be a challenge. It is safe to say your car will get very very dirty.
There are a few contributing factors as to why mud season can be manageable or extremely tough. Some say the severity of mud season depends on how deep the frost permeates the ground in winter. Others claim it’s related to the amount of rain we receive in the early Spring. While still others believe it results directly from the amount of snow left on the ground when the Spring thaw begins. But then it could also depend on how quickly the sub-surface defrosts in the Spring. What ever your opinion may be, mud season is a constant for Vermonters in the Spring.
During mud season, hiking and walking on trails is strongly discouraged. Due to wet, muddy conditions, Vermont prohibits traffic on most trails from April 15th (or when the snow starts to melt and expose ground) until the Friday of Memorial Day weekend. The reason for this is because when hikers stomp on wet and muddy trails, compacting and erosion occurs. Delicate higher elevation fauna can also be damaged more easily during this time because the soil is so soft. With even minimal disturbance, fauna can be stripped from their original resting place and become severely damaged.
But, lets get back to the positives! During mud season most resorts and ski resort towns will offer deals for visitors. Less expensive lift tickets, food specials, and deals on room rates are very common. You might also luck out with a late season snow storm! Just last week Mother Nature threw Vermont a curve ball after record high temperatures and rain just a few weeks before. Most of Vermont received over two feet of beautiful champagne powder! What a treat!
When Vermont is not enjoying blower powder days in the Spring time though, it is enjoying some of the best skiing conditions all year. The warmer temperatures of spring have warmed the snow, making it soft and easy to turn on. Nice, soft, spring snow is usually called ‘Hero Snow’ because anyone can ski it with ease. With the warmer temperatures also comes the ability for visitors of ski resorts to stay longer and to enjoy the whole day! During the cold winter months it is almost unbearable to socialize. In contrast, during the springtime, you will find barbecues and tail gating galore at ski resorts across the state. Flip flops and Hawaiian shirts are optional for these festivities, but highly encouraged.
What Vermont is most known for during the spring though, is maple syrup! Vermont is annually responsible for nearly 50% of the United States maple syrup production and is the leading state in maple syrup production. 2016 was a “bumper crop” so to speak, in maple syrup production with an impressive two million gallons coming from Vermont. Talk about SWEET! Vermonter’s have been collecting sap from sugar maples for hundreds of years. Farmers used maple sap harvesting as a way to supplement their income before the warmer months. Nowadays, the maple harvest in Vermont is a multi million dollar industry!
It’s actually quiet a simple process to harvest maple sap and turn into syrup. To begin, a sugar maple is “tapped”. A tap is hammered right into it’s trunk. A tree cannot be tapped in the same place twice. Tapping usually happens in late February or early March. A bucket or a more sophisticated tubing system is utilized to collect the sap once the sugar maples begin to run. The maple tree’s sap begins to run when the nights are chilly and the day time temperatures are warming. It is said that wind can play a factor as well! Once the sap starts running, the sap is transferred to a storage tank. When there is enough sap to cover the bottom of the storage tank it is time to start boiling the sap! It takes 40 gallons of sap to make a single gallon of maple syrup- talk about a labor of love! When the sap has reached a temperature of 219 degrees, it is time to filter the syrup. Once the syrup is filtered, it is bottled and ready to be enjoyed!
Stowe Craft’s 5 Things to do in Vermont during the Spring
1. Spring Skiing! So many resorts have fun events, pond skimming, live music and a great time!
2. Visit a maple maker’s open house! Across the state of Vermont on the weekend of March 25th an d 26th, 2007, sugar houses will open up their doors to the general public. Find a location near you here: http://vermontmaple.org/openhouse
3. Go on a hike- but one that is safe and won’t be too muddy! You can find one here: http://vtstateparks.blogspot.com/2013/04/mud-season-hiking.html
4. Go fishing! By April water will be rushing a ice and snow are no longer covering streams. Remember to renew your fishing licence before you go though! For more info check this link out: http://www.gameandfishmag.com/new-england/vermont/your-best-spring-fishing-in-vermont/
5. Go on a brewery tour! Vermont has some of the best beer in the world and it is easily accessible. Our favorite breweries in the greater Stowe, Vermont area are- Lost Nation Brewing, The Alchemist Brewery, Von Trapps Brewery, Stowe Cider (this is hard cider but it is certainly still worth a visit), and Idletyme Brewery!