Why Visit The Shires of Vermont During Mud Season?
Perhaps you’ve heard of it? The “Fifth” season in Vermont? This “informal” term describes the period in late winter/early spring when dirt paths such as roads and hiking trails become muddy from melting snow and rain. It’s usually between March and Memorial Day in May that we see mud season.
It can be fun though! It’s a time when Vermont starts to thaw out, the sap begins to run, and buds begin to spring.
Some might suggest hiking, however we must caution you, it could damage you, as well as the trail! Hikers walking on saturated soils or on the sides of trails cause damage to surrounding vegetation, widen trails, and inhibit natural drainage of our beloved hiking trails. You also have to keep in mind that what the weather is like at the trailhead is not necessarily what it is like farther up the trail. You could still be walking into winter if you somehow made it past the mud.
Try some different activities for the next couple months: spring is a great time for other outdoor recreation like cycling, paddling, and even road walking.
What’s also good about Vermont’s mud season? It’s cheap to visit us! Try coming in October during peak foliage season and you will see prices sky rocket. However, if you come during mud season you get the run of the town.
What’s cool about that is the communities of The Shires are still producing events and programs to attract tourists. Check out the annual Winter Homebrew Festival and the St. Patrick’s Day weekend in Bennington in mid-March. Make sure to also check out the great restaurants throughout The Shires - mud season means no wait, but still a great experience.
And if it's raining, which it does often during this season (fair warning), many of our inns and restaurants have big roaring fires to snuggle up to and read. Of course, we would recommend you picking up Mud Season by Ellen Stimson at one of our locally-owned bookshops! After a getaway in gorgeous rural Vermont―its mountains ablaze in autumnal glory, its Main Streets quaint and welcoming―Ellen and her family make up their minds even before they get back to St. Louis: “We’re moving to Vermont!” The reality, they quickly learn, is a little muddier than they'd imagined, but, happily, worth all the trouble.
In self-deprecating and hilarious fashion, Mud Season chronicles Stimson’s transition from city life to rickety Vermont farmhouse. When she decides she wants to own and operate the old-fashioned village store in idyllic Dorset, pop. 2,036, one of the oldest continually operating country stores in the country, she learns the hard way that “improvements” are not always welcomed warmly by folks who like things just fine the way they’d always been. She dreams of patrons streaming in for fresh-made sandwiches and an old-timey candy counter, but she learns they’re boycotting the store. Why? “The bread,” they tell her, “you moved the bread from where it used to be.” Can the citified newcomer turn the tide of mistrust before she ruins the business altogether? You’ll have to read it to find out!
There’s a lot to love about mud season in Vermont, but perhaps the best thing is that it represents the coming of spring. Have you ever seen a Vermonter who was dormant since November, after a long winter, in mud season? There is a certain joy and appreciation of the soon-to-be next season in The Shires of Vermont.