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Sandwiched between winter and spring, mud season is Vermont’s fifth season – the season we don’t like to talk about. During mud season in Vermont, we deal with too much snow, our fair share of rain, and dirt roads and trails that are virtually impassable. Cars, boots, and clothing become caked with the stuff, making spring cleaning a fruitless endeavor.
While mud season may seem like the worst time to visit Vermont, there are some very compelling reasons to come to Vermont in March and April. For one thing mud season and maple season go hand-in-hand. For another, you’ll score some great deals on lodging, as March and April are considered the off-season in Vermont. Here are a few more fun things to do during mud season in Vermont.
Visit Maple Open House Weekend
*Due to COVID-19, Maple Open House Weekend is on hold until 2022
Maple Open House Weekend celebrates the new crop of maple sap and the unique process of turning it into maple syrup. Over the course of the weekend, participating maple sugar producers open their sugar shacks to the public, offering tours, demonstrations, culinary creations, and the opportunity to purchase the real deal.
Maple Weekend in Vermont usually coincides with the official start of spring during the third weekend in March. It doesn’t matter which part of Vermont you visit during Maple Weekend, there are 90+ participating maple farms all over the state. Maple Weekend partners include restaurants, breweries, and hotels, which offer special deals and events throughout the weekend. It’s one of the sweetest reasons to visit Vermont during mud season!
Hit the Slopes for Spring Skiing in Vermont
Some hard-core snow lovers say that spring skiing is the best skiing there is. It’s a short window of opportunity when you can score amazing deals on lift tickets and hit the slopes wearing a t-shirt with your snow pants. The longer days of March combine with high-elevation snowfall to make this an ideal time of year to get in a few more runs before your thoughts turn to summer activities.
Special spring skiing events include pond skimming, festivals, live music, and special deals to celebrate the end of the ski season in Vermont. Find out what’s going on at ski resorts across Vermont by visiting Ski Vermont.
Treat Yourself to a Spa Weekend
I already mentioned that March is the perfect time to find some amazing deals on lodging in Vermont. It’s also an awesome time to plan a girls’ getaway or spa weekend with someone you love. Here are our top picks for a delightful spa weekend in Vermont.
- Woodstock Inn & Resort – The Woodstock Inn & Resort is a luxurious slice of heaven in one of Vermont’s most picturesque towns. The resort features 142 scrumptious rooms, four distinct restaurants, and recreation opportunities. The spa is a premiere wellness retreat, with restorative massages, facials, and body treatments, plus whirlpool tubs, an outdoor pool, and a cedar sauna. Special sugar season packages are available.
- Topnotch Resort in Stowe– Head to the mountain town of Stowe and the newly renovated Topnotch Resort, located on 120 pristine acres at the base of Mt. Mansfield. Spa amenities include indoor and outdoor pools, hot tubs, saunas, and fitness rooms. Spa treatments include body wraps, massage, facials, skincare, salon services, cupping, and couples treatments.
- Mountaintop Inn & Resort in Chittenden – Set high in the mountains of Central Vermont on 700 idyllic acres, Mountaintop Inn & Resort is a secret getaway that you can only find in Vermont. Accommodations are luxurious, the cuisine is artfully created, and the spa treatments are beyond relaxing. Spa and salon services include a pool and hot tub, massages, scrubs, and facials.
Visit a Vermont Waterfall
All that snowmelt has to go somewhere, which is why the waterfalls in Vermont are at their very best in March and April. Unlike many of the waterfalls in the rest of New England, most of the waterfalls in Vermont don’t require a lot of hiking on muddy spring trails, and some are even roadside attractions.
Our favorite spring waterfalls in Vermont include Moss Glen Falls in Granville, Texas Falls in Ripton, and Bingham Falls in Stowe. We love Vermont waterfalls so much, that we covered nine of our favorites over at Back Road Ramblers.
Get Out on the Water for Spring Paddling
Ice out is the term we use in Vermont when the ice melts from the ponds and lakes, making the waters available for spring paddling and fishing. Ice out dates change from year to year and depend on where the lake or pond is located and the elevation. In Southern Vermont, ice out occurs relatively early, in mid-March or so. In the northern mountains, Ice out can happen in May. There’s even a contest to predict when Ice Out happens on Joe’s Pond each year. The winner takes home about $5,000.
After ice out, Vermonters and visitors are quick to trade their snowshoes for paddles and take to the water. After all, spring and summer are short in Vermont. Looking for some fun spots to paddle a canoe or kayak this spring? Try these lakes, ponds, and rivers.
- Connecticut River paddling – Ice out on the Connecticut River happens relatively early in the spring, especially from Windsor south to Brattleboro. This part of the river is fairly calm and the fishing is good too. Wilgus State Park opens for waterfront camping on the Connecticut River in early May, and Great River Outfitters offers guided trips and canoe/kayak rentals.
- Lowell Lake State Park – This undeveloped park is located in Londonderry, Vermont, and is a great spot for quiet-water paddling. Picnic tables line the shore, and there are lots of quiet coves with gorgeous scenery. Ice out changes from year-to-year, but early April is usually clear.
- Lake Paran, North Bennington – This is a small, picturesque lake with access to a nice creek and good fishing. The put-in area is easy to get to, making this a nice early-season paddling spot.
Visit a Vermont Museum
I love hitting up Vermont’s museums during March road trips when the weather is too unpredictable to plan outdoor adventures. The following museums are family-friendly and feature Vermont art, nature, wildlife, and science. Check them out all through the year.
- Bennington Museum: Bennington, Vermont – Featuring a famous Jane Stickle quilt, lots of Vermont history, a plethora of Grandma Moses paintings, and cool artifacts from the Revolutionary War.
- Shelburne Museum: Shelburne, Vermont – A hodgepodge of artifacts, including paintings, horse-drawn vehicles, folk art, textiles, toys, and guns. Collections are spread through 30+ buildings on beautiful sprawling grounds. There’s also a lighthouse and the steamboat Ticonderoga.
- The Montshire Museum of Science: Norwich, Vermont – Hands-on science for kids of all ages, including a discovery lab, music-making exhibit, and a room full of bubbles.
- Echo Center: Burlington, Vermont – All about the natural history of Vermont, with interactive exhibits, 3-D films, and live animal exhibits on the Lake Champlain waterfront.
- American Precision Museum: Windsor, Vermont – A unique collection of historic machines.
- Southern Vermont Natural History Museum: Marlborough, Vermont – Live animal exhibits, mounted specimens, and a mineralogy collection perched on top of a mountain.
- Flemming Museum: Burlington, Vermont – Located on the UVM campus, this is Vermont’s most comprehensive collection of art and anthropological artifacts.
Look for the Comeback of Migrating Birds
Any location with such a long winter will celebrate the comeback of summer birds. Warblers make an appearance just before leaf-out and are easy to spot among the bare branches. Snow geese appear by the thousands in March and April, along with other waterfowl that can be spotted in the quiet coves of Lake Champlain.
To learn more about spring birdwatching in Vermont, visit the websites of these Audubon Societies: Rutland County Audubon Society, Green Mountain Audubon Society in Burlington, Southeastern Vermont Audubon Society in Brattleboro, and the Audubon Vermont in Huntington.
Tour Vermont’s Craft Breweries
Vermont’s craft brewing industry is big business, with a higher number of breweries per capita than any other state. The state is arguably home to some of the finest beers in the world, but you don’t have to take our word for it. Head to Vermont during mud season and take the Vermont Brewery Challenge.
All you have to do to participate is download the Vermont Brewer’s Association app, visit Vermont breweries, and have your passport digitally stamped while you are there. Additional benefits include great tasting beers, live music, and yummy food. Now that’s a mud season activity we can get behind!
Head to a Vermont Film Festival
*Due to COVID-19, the 2021 Green Mountain Film Festival has been canceled
The very first film festival we ever went to was the Green Mountain Film Festival in Montpelier, which takes place at the end of March each year. Film screenings take place all weekend at various venues around town, from morning till night. Mud season is a great time of year for a film festival, and Montpelier is a fun town for lots of other reasons too. During our most recent film festival weekend, we had an amazing Italian meal at Sarducci’s and stayed at the Capitol Plaza Hotel, which is within walking distance of everything.
Visit Baby Animals at a Local Farm
Vermont farms start to come alive in the spring with both planting season and with baby animals. Visiting fluffy farm critters isn’t just for kids — it’s for everyone. There are farms all over the state that welcome visitors, but the following are well known for having the most adorable baby animals, from chicks to cows, and everything in between.
- Merck Forest & Farmland Center: Rupert, Vermont – Pigs, sheep, chickens, and horses on a 60-acre farm surrounded by forest.
- Shelburne Farms: Shelburne, Vermont – The children’s farmyard is a place of learning and fun for all ages. Watch the chicken parade, milk a cow, and visit with the goats, sheep, pigs, rabbits, and miniature Sicilian donkeys.
- Billings Farm and Museum: Woodstock, Vermont – 70 Jersey cows, five draft horses, and a flock of Southdown sheep, not to mention oxen, pigs, and chickens, make Billings Farm & Museum an awesome place to immerse yourself in farm life. There’s even a baby farm animal celebration in mid-April.
Tips for Surviving Mud Season in Vermont
Now that you know what to do in Vermont during mud season, you’re going to need a few tips for making the most of your trip without getting too, well, muddy.
- Stay off dirt roads – Back roads are our favorite kind of roads, but during mud season, many of Vermont’s dirt roads are downright treacherous. The freeze and thaw cycles create huge ruts and the puddles are big enough to go swimming in. Stick to paved roads during mud season in Vermont. If you can help it, that is.
- Look for dry hiking trails – Hiking trails are just as bad as dirt roads during mud season in Vermont, and walking on muddy trails causes erosion and damage. Low elevation trails and trails on south-facing slopes will be the first to dry out. Mud on mountain trails may last well into June. Vermont’s Green Mountain Club has tips for hiking during mud season and some ideas for where to hike.
- Wear sturdy hiking boots – Slip-on shoes and boots are no friend to mud season in Vermont. All it takes is one wrong step, and slurping and sucking noises will accompany your shoe into a quagmire of muckiness. I suggest sturdy hiking boots with a nice lug sole and waterproof upper. Not only are they practical, but they’re also a fashion statement. These insulated hiking boots from Oboz will also keep your feet warm. I’m on my third pair and highly recommend them.
- Plan for fickle weather – It’s nearly impossible to know what the weather will do during mud season in Vermont. It may be sunny and 60 degrees, but more than likely it will be raining or even snowing with temps in the 30s or 40s. Plan to layer your outerwear, just in case. I’d go with a fleece or wool sweater, a down puffy, and a raincoat, plus a wool cap and scarf just to be safe.
- Embrace the mud – Mud season is a special time in Vermont. Why? Because it means that spring is coming, and spring doesn’t come without first tackling the hurdle of mud season. Pack your bubble bath and embrace mud season!
Mud season in Vermont is short, lasting just a few weeks as the ground thaws and the moisture trickles down to provide nourishment for the fields and forests that will soon burst forth in every shade of green. This is a great time to head to Vermont for mud and maple, plus indoor and outdoor adventures.