Where Two Trails Meet
A Destination in the Mountains.
Manchester has always been a destination—for artists, city dwellers, and adventurers, too. We’re a special place tucked between two mountain ranges, the Greens and the Taconics. Both are part of the Appalachian chain and run north from Connecticut through the Berkshires into Vermont.
Along with gorgeous views and pristine woodlands, they’re home to famous walking paths; the Long Trail (America’s oldest) and the Appalachian Trail, the world’s longest linear park. The two co-mingle for 100 miles, passing just outside of Manchester proper.
Trail Town Status.
Now, our town is famous for a handful of things – Robert Todd Lincoln’s Hildene, high-end outlets, the Orvis Company, and Equinox — both the mountain and resort. But the newest feather in our cap is an official trail town designation.
Three million people tackle some section of the A.T. every year. Most start in Georgia at Springer Mountain and trek the two thousand miles to Maine. Some flip flop and hike to Harper’s Ferry, WV where they catch a ride north before hiking back. Some choose a 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 The Mountain Goat. In collaboration with John O’Keefe, Manchester’s Town Manager, she and her husband Ron have been the driving force behind the designation.
“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!” Side note, straight from the A.T. website, only the friendliest and the most dedicated towns can sport the official “community” status.
“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!”
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 the two 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. In fact, they’re one of Gear Patrol’s Top 25 Outdoor Stores in the country.
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 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 the lifestyle it affords.”
If You Go.
Find The Mountain Goat at 4886 Main Street in Manchester, Center. Open daily from 10 ’til 6.
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