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Tuesday, November 19, 2019

Dog Mountain - St Johnsbury, Vermont

Vermont is so incredibly cool.  It's hard to describe, really. If you spent any time in Burlington, you get that vibe from this amazing little city filled with breweries and cobblestone streets, bike lanes and that beautiful lake.  If you prefer the mountain, you have those special spots like Kingdom Trails, miles of mountain biking through Vermont's northeast kingdom.  You have ski areas and long-distance hiking trails,  sweet little towns and famous mountains.  You can find awesome food and some really really good beer.  You can sleep in yurts, snooze in cabins, toss around in tents, bike gravel roads, walk along recreation paths.  You have this amazing variety of recreation and relaxation in Vermont.  

And then, you have places like Dog Mountain. 

Dog Mountain is the most amazing spot you never heard about.  I spent (most of) my life as a die-hard New Englander.  After my time in Utah, I spent my time in New England dedicated to exploring the nook and crannies of these six states.  It wasn't until my trip to Kingdom Trails this year that I heard about this amazing spot called Dog Mountain.  I was dropping Olive off at a dog sitters for the day while I biked the trails.  The dog sitter asked if she could take Olive to someplace called Dog Mountain.  After a quick google search, I was instantly jealous of my dog and her plans for the day.  So jealous, I just had to go myself. 

Dog Mountain is a dog mecca set on 150-acres on top of a privately-owned mountain n St. Johnsbury, in the Northeast Kingdom of Vermont.  

Stephen Huneck and his wife bought the property in 1995 and turned the barn into studio space. This dog haven is equipped with hiking trails and dog ponds, open fields, the Dog Chapel and the Stephen Huneck Gallery.  It's where dogs get to play, humans get to unwind, and you both get to enjoy life on a mountain top in Northern Vermont.  

I pulled into the parking lot with the biggest smile on my face, two pillars with black labs welcoming you into the amazingness that is this "compound".  I immediately swung by the gallery to see the artwork before heading out to the pond and trails.  Owners were chatting as dogs jumped in and out of the pond and chased each other around the field.  Further on, hikers and doggos were following paw print marked trails.  It's pure bliss where you walk around in love with your dog, instantly aware of their far too short yet amazing existence in your life. 

There's this little white chapel perched at the top of this mountain.  This chapel has a different set of wooden pews and a special set of stained glass in its windows.  And the walls?  Every inch is covered with sweet little notes and pictures.  The pictures are of dogs who have left us - dogs who were loved dearly by someone or someones.  

The notes are letters to these dogs who have passed.  They are in the handwriting of sweet little kids, or long typed up letters from adults.  They tell tales of happy days with their dogs, or sweet little messages like "Fly High Riley" or "We Miss You Everday" or "See You In Heaven".  It is so special, and so sadly sweet to walk through the chapel, of ghosts of love lost.  I walked through with Olive with tears in my eyes, imagining all these happy dogs and their days with their families.  I walked around with Olive, reading the notes and looking at all the photos, admiring this little sanctuary where dogs can be remembered and their families can leave a little memory behind.   I whispered in her ear how much I loved her and I watched her grey eyebrows lift a bit, to look at me with mild concern. 

Need To Know

The Dogs:  Leashes are optional on Dog Mountain. Dogs are free to run, play, swim and best of all meet other dogs.  

Address:  143 Parks Rd, St Johnsbury, VT 05819

Fees:  Dog Mountain and The Dog Chapel are free and open to the public. Although not required, to help with the costs of upkeep and maintenance of The Dog Chapel, the grounds, dog ponds, meadows, fields, and hiking trails, we do ask for a suggested donation when visiting.

Suggested Donation:
$5 - Daily Pass
$30 - Annual Pass

Hours: Dog Mountain and The Dog Chapel are open every day from dawn until dusk. The hours for the Stephen Huneck Gallery change seasonally and can be found here.

Shopping:  You can shop the awesome art gallery online.

On my way out of Dog Mountain, I stopped by the gallery once more to enjoy Stephen Hunek's work, soaking in his love and dedication to dogs.  As I put Olive in the car and got in my driver's seat, I was insanely happy.  I was happy to live in a world where dogs get their own mountain.  A place where people come to celebrate their love of the four-legged, where they come to play and mourn, to relax and remember.  Dog Mountain is special and it's a sweet spot in Vermont I hope you get to experience for yourself.  

Dog Mountain, the best little secret that just made it to the top of your When in Vermont list.   Head north, head to the mountain (Dog Mountain), bring your dog, a towel for the mud, and a few tissues. 

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