We are very fortunate here in Middlebury, Vermont. We are located in the center of Vermont, an ideal location to have access to some of the greatest sites Vermont has to offer: Lake Champlain, Lake Dunmore, Silver Lake, Rikert Nordic Center, Middlebury Snow Bowl, and an amazing number of museums and locally owned shops. On top of all that, located right here in Middlebury is an 18 mile long interconnected route of trails called the “Trail around Middlebury,” or as we know it, “The TAM.”
The TAM encircles the village of Middlebury and links several hundred acres of town land, conserved properties, schools, and other local landmarks. Two bridges cross Otter Creek to connect the loop. Without the Middlebury Area Land Trust for starting and maintaining the project, local landowners for allowing the trail to go through their land, and the generous support of the Arnold family and the Vermont Department of Forests, Parks, and Recreation, the TAM trail wouldn’t have been possible. Volunteers keep the trail up and running, donating over $10,000 of time last year to keep it clean and maintained.
With ten trail loops (the Middlebury College Trails, Jackson Trail, Johnson Trail, Otter Creek Gorge Preserve, Wright Park, Chipman Hill, Battell and Means Woods, Jeffrey Murdock Nature Preserve, Boathouse Bridge, and Prunier Road Trail Spur), there is something for everyone on the TAM. Trails that are suited for Mountain Biking are marked with yellow on the TAM map, and there are even trails that can accommodate strollers. The TAM is also a fantastic way for those prospective Middlebury College students to get to know the town in which they want to live for four years (or more!).
For those looking for an outdoor activity all year around, the TAM is perfect. The Middlebury Trails, the Wright Park Trail, and the Johnson Trail are especially suited for winter use, whether cross country skiing or snowshoeing. The Middlebury Trails are ideal for cross country skiing, and both the Wright Park Trail and the Johnson Trail are easier loops that are great for seeing wildlife in a wildlife enclave or near a pond.
Here at the Swift House Inn, our favorite route is one we lovingly call “the Hill,” or the Chipman Hill Trail. The 2.5 mile loop is made up of mostly forest trails, with just some residential walking on either side of the loop. Chipman Hill sits approximately 360 feet above the town center, and in the 1940’s and 50’s was the site of Middlebury College’s downhill ski area. There are three different ways to enter the trail, and many route options depending on the distance desired. We frequent the High Street entrance, which provides for some great hills to challenge yourself (and then be rewarded with some great down hills on the other side) and gorgeous views of the town and sunset. This loop is ideal for those guests bringing along a furry friend, and they make for great help on those hills! Proper shoes in the winter make this trail accessible all year around. Whether you’re visiting the Swift House Inn for business or pleasure, the TAM trail makes for a great break from the world with its relaxing and tranquil feel.
We all want to be able to enjoy the TAM for years to come and ask that it and the volunteers that have put so much work into it be respected and treated well. For more information, tips, and rules of the trail, visit: http://www.maltvt.org/trail/tam-trail/.