Where Two Trails Meet
A Destination in the Mountains.
Manchester has always been a destination—for artists, authors, adventurers, and city dwellers seeking the restorative quality of our landscape. It’s a special place tucked between two beautiful mountain ranges, the Greens and the Taconics, and home to the Batten Kill, a world famous trout stream.
The Taconics and the Green Mountains are part of the Appalachian chain. They run north from Connecticut through the Berkshires and into Vermont. Manchester is the final outpost of their connection. Along with gorgeous views and pristine woodlands, they’re home to two notable recreational paths, the Long Trail and the Appalachian Trail.
The Long Trail is America’s first long-distance hiking trail. Completed in 1930, it tracks the main ridge of the Green Mountains for 272 miles, across some our most majestic peaks. Inspired by the L.T. and established seven years later, The Appalachian Trail, ranks as the longest linear national park in the world. The two trails co-mingle for 100 miles through southern Vermont, passing just outside of Manchester.
Trail Town Status.
Our town is famous for a handful of things – Robert Todd Lincoln’s Hildene, high-end outlets, the Orvis Company, Mother Myrick’s Lemon Lulu, and Equinox — both the mountain and resort. But the newest feather in our cap is an official Appalachian Trail designation.
Three million people tackle some section of the A.T. each year. From its start at Springer Mountain, the trail runs 2,000+ miles to Mount Katahdin in Maine. Most hikers start in Georgia and head north to Acadia, planning stopovers in advance. Some flip flop and hike to Harper’s Ferry, West Virginia where they catch a ride up to Maine before hiking back. Others pick a defined section hike in proximity to a place they want to explore more.
“Manchester’s always been a hiker-friendly town. You can get your internet fix, get a good meal, do your laundry, have a shower (at the Parks & Rec) if you’re not staying over for the night.” Anne Houser is co-owner of a local gear and clothing store. “Hikers passing by Manchester tend to hop off above Bromley and hitch a ride down. Or they take the side spur down Rootville Road and walk in. Lots of locals will pick them up and drop them at the post office, the bookstore, the library… Sometimes they’ll even offer to host a dinner!”
An Enhanced Identity.
Anne and husband Ron are the proprietors of The Mountain Goat – ranked among Gear Patrol’s Top 25 Outdoor Stores in the country. For thirty years, they’ve been outfitting explorers for backcountry adventures. In collaboration with John O’Keefe, Manchester’s Town Manager, they’ve been the driving force behind the new A.T. designation.
“It’s really about our heritage” Anne explained. “We’re a resort because of the beauty of the mountains, the fishing, the hiking, the green, and the fresh air. Inspired recreation, inspired art – theater, painting, music – and all this outdoor opportunity. Plus, we have a strong tradition of hospitality. We’re Vermont!”
Side note, straight from the A.T. website, only the friendliest and the most dedicated towns can sport the official “community” status. Be proud, Manchester!
History of the Goat.
Anne and Ron are native Virginians but their spirit is all Green Mountains. “Ron and I used to lead cycling trips together. We always had this idea that we wanted to move up into the hills. We ended up in Boston, then Connecticut, and finally we said we’re just going to move to Vermont and figure it out.”
Anne explained that she’d worked at an outdoor store in Williamstown, MA – the “Mountain Goat.” When she and Ron landed in Manchester, they thought they were close enough but far enough to propose a second location. The original store has long since closed, but the Houser’s are going strong.
“Our first location was up the street, where Zippy Chicks is today. It was a sweat equity endeavor in those days — building racks, boxes on the floor, and baby sleeping on the shelves.” She gestured to the current space. “Now we’ve been here almost fifteen years and it’s quite charming, too. We put in some false floors, add walls to the walls. We love the visibility. We love being right here in the hub of downtown.”
What You’ll Find at the Shop.
Trekking and camping gear, daypacks, duffels, tech accessories, warm weather and winter apparel for the entire family. Swimwear, snowshoes, Nordic ski stuff, and shoes for hiking, climbing, running and touring. Brands like Patagonia, Marmot, Salomon, Prana, Montrail, and Mountain Hardwear.
“Patagonia continues to be the base of our world in terms of outdoor style and fashion. But also, we love their ethical practice. They push the industry to be better. Ibex is a cool Vermont brand; all merino wool. They make everything from base layers to outerwear, sustainably and beautifully.”
Another perk — Anne’s husband Ron is a Certified Pedorthist. Which means he makes biomechanical footbeds to solve fit problems that might prevent one from adventuring to their fullest. With an appointment, you can have custom orthotics produced on site, same day.
“Our customers are people who like to play in the snow and hike on the trails. Our staff is terrific. At the end of the day, we’re small enough to feel like a family. We make sure that everyone gets out to play when they can and we try to be flexible with one another. We work together to make our jobs and our lives flow. We try to make room for fun and adventure. We’re not here to work on Wall Street. We didn’t do that on purpose. We’re here for Vermont and for this incredible lifestyle.”
If You Go.
Find The Mountain Goat at 4886 Main Street in Manchester, Center. Open daily from 10 ’til 6.
Hildene, the Lincoln Family Home is Manchester's most visited historic site, popular in every season. But from late May to mid-June, somethi...
This summer, the mountains are calling! The days are long, the weather is gorgeous, and our favorite family friendly adventures are at the r...