“Whose woods these are I think I know.
His house is in the village though;
He will not see me stopping here
To see his woods fill up with snow.”
These lines from “Stopping by Woods on a Snowy Evening” and other poems by Robert Frost decorate an unusual literary trail. During the years the great American poet lived in Vermont, he walked through woods not far from the college town of Middlebury. Many years later, snippets from some of his most famous poems mark the paths of his home woods — perhaps in the very places that inspired them.
We’ll be visiting this part of Vermont later this winter, and now that we know about the trail, we hope we’ll be able to snowshoe it with Ursula and Virgil, both of whom have grown up hearing Frost’s poems. I bet they’ll enjoy the way that the trail fits some of the poems. At a “Y” in the trail, for example, two lines from “The Road Not Taken — “Two roads diverged in a wood, and I — / I took the one less traveled / And that has made all the difference” — are etched into a wooden marker.
Snowshoeing can be “the road less traveled” for families during the winter months. Getting outside as a family with young children during the winter takes a fair amount of effort. Some of the activities most strongly associated with the season — skiing, snowboarding, snowmobiling, ice skating — require specialized equipment, rentals, lessons, and tickets, all of which can be expensive. Dealing with the logistics alone can feel like enough exercise for a day.
Snowshoeing offers a simple alternative. Snowshoes developed thousands of years ago to help people walk on snow. The basic design of a snowshoe hasn’t changed much over time, and neither has the basic technique: a slight waddle. Even very young children can get the hang of it in a short time. The equipment is inexpensive to buy or rent, and there’s nothing special about the clothing you need.
I recently put together a list of 15 family-friendly snowshoe trails in the Northeast. If a visit to Middlebury isn’t on your schedule this winter, check that list for other trails where the woods are also “lovely, dark, and deep.”
– To visit Vermont’s Robert Frost Trail, look for a sign on Route 125 heading east out of Middlebury.
– Read “Snowy Walks: 15 family-friendly snowshoes hikes in the Northeast.”
“Great Kids, Great Outdoors” is an AMC Outdoors blog, written by Kristen Laine.