The Cross Vermont Trail (CVT)
stretches 75 miles horizontally across Vermont from Burlington to Wells River. Many sections are
on roads and other sections are various recreational trails and former railroad beds. The CVT
follows river valleys and is therefore mostly flat.
The section of CVT that I did was completely flat, wide, and suitable for walking, running, biking,
snowshoeing, and cross-country skiing. It had views of the Wells River in various spots, a section
of beautiful wetlands, and lots of interesting plants. I could have easily spent the entire day
here with field guides in hand, trying to identify the various shrubs, wildflowers, ferns,
The two side loops I did had minimal elevation changes.
So I started along the wide and pleasant trail. After spending so much time hiking rocky,
mountainous terrain, this flat, soft, smooth trail was a very welcome change.
I shortly passed by a sign indicating the Boltonville Nature Trail; and then another one
marking the eastern junction of the Trail. I explored this loop on my return trip so more later on
Shortly after, I reached the I-91 underpass which marks the halfway point between the trailheads of
this section of the CVT. This was a surprisingly nice area with an extra-wide railed trail running
under the highway. There was a picnic table on the western side and a nice outlook across the Wells
River to a farm with lush green grass. To the east side was a bench and another nice outlook over
the river. [9/5/2009 Update: The view from the bench is now largely obscured and shows very little of the river.]
Continuing along I started to see a lot of horsetails along the trail. This species of the unusual
horsetail plants are called scouring brushes. They grow about 2 feet tall straight up out of the
ground - no leaves, no branching - and with an odd sort of "flower" at the very top. Native peoples
used to take a bunch of these, hold them together and use the tops to scrub pots, etc. And if you
rub your fingernail cross-wise against the stem of the plant you'll find it makes a great nail
Just a few of the other plants seen along these trails include bedstraw, milkweed, goldenrod,
partridgeberry, black-eyed Susan, cattails, Joe-Pye weed, yellow wood sorrel (sour grass), and
A bit farther along was a wonderful wetlands area. I would have loved to dally here but each
time I stopped walking the mosquitoes started attacking. So I walked slowly and took in the
beautiful pond with juncos flitting about and a couple ducks on the water. On the other side
of the trail were enormous cattails. There was also a bench that looked like a great spot for
quiet contemplation and bird watching (if you're dressed in a mosquito-proof suit or it's the dead
Use caution while walking this section of the trail as holes in the ground tend to form, are then filled in, and new ones form – so the holes may seem to be "moving" if you revisit this area.
I also saw a snake in this area.
Beyond this area were more trail junctions. A sign pointed to the right indicating "BMU", which leads in a quarter of a mile to the Blue Mountain Union School. Across from this junction, 30 feet farther along the CVT,
is the unmarked, western junction of the Blue Mountain Nature Trail loop. Continuing along the CVT
another 50 yards, you'll find the eastern junction of the Blue Mountain Nature Trail loop, also on the left. I'll check this out on
my way back too, so more later.
At this point, I was almost at the end of the CVT and I soon reached the end at a small parking area.
Turning around, I retraced my steps just a short ways and sat on a bench overlooking the river
to eat lunch. A red squirrel kept me amused. He would scurry around in the nearby shrubs, stop
and look at me, come up close, then scurry away again. He probably couldn't wait for me to leave
so he could eat my lunch crumbs.
Right below the bench a little stream feeds into the river which is smooth and calm here. And
next to the bench was an interesting plant which I believe was hog peanut ( Amphicarpa bracteata).
It's a member of the pea family and grows like a vine up and over other plants. It has flowers
similar to that of cow vetch but instead of a vivid purple, these were white, transforming to a
deeper lavender near the ends of the flowers. And they had cute little peapods dangling from the
vines. This plant has a different type of flower near its base as opposed to its upper sections...
and hence different types of fruits/seeds. Its common name comes from the fact that hogs will feed
on the seed type that grows underground. Birds will feed on both types of this plant's
After finishing lunch, I continued retracing my steps a bit until I reached the eastern terminus
of the Blue Mountain Nature Trail. I turned right to follow this interesting trail that at one
point brought me to the shore of the river. Then it wound its way up a hill and I was on what
seemed to be a plateau peninsula surrounded by the river and/or wetland areas. This was a pleasant
walk with a mostly open understory and hemlocks on the inside of the loop and views down to the river
and woods on the outside of the trail.
I came across some funky looking fungus that looked sort of like bright yellow spaghetti growing out
of the ground in short, wavy strands. Next I came across what looked like the skeleton of a heron.
Eventually the trail wound back downhill, looking out to a magical wooded area with the sun
illuminating a carpet of ferns. The trail reconnected with the CVT just a short distance from
where I left it.
I continued on the CVT, back through the wetlands area, and under I-91, and beyond that, I turned
right to follow the Boltonville Nature Trail. This started with a steep, narrow trail that descended
to the floodplain area of the river. In the floodplain area, the footing was a bit lumpy
(but fine). This trail also went close to the now gently babbling river at times and after being
out in the open for a while, it ducked back into the shady woods. I saw some oyster-shaped
Shortly after entering the woods, I was surprised to find a neat little gorge and some cascades.
What a wonderful spot for a picnic. I decided to stop here and eat the other half of my sandwich.
The ground was soft to sit upon and the gorge was fascinating and the cascades mesmerizing. At
the cascades, the trail turns left and starts going up the hill, but you can continue walking
straight to explore more of the river, which is worth a look.
Returning back to the trail and heading uphill, I shortly rejoined the CVT; and after that I shortly
rejoined the parking area. If one was to hike this in reverse, the gorge area could be reached after
only about 10-15 minutes of walking...so if you don't have much time but want to find a peaceful
place to relax, this makes for a quick fix.