Tenting in Eden: Paradise in Vermont

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While Vermont hosts many tourists who swim, hike, bike, and camp in our beautiful state during the summer, there are many hidden spots that only locals know about. I’m probably going to get in trouble for revealing one of my favorite swimming spots and campgrounds in the state, so I’ll just say it’s in Eden and leave it at that. It’s one of those rare places where you can still hike and camp for free without a reservation and have plenty of quiet space to yourself. No parking attendants, no vehicles, no electricity or running water. You have to hike about a mile from the parking lot to get to the pond where there are several cabins to grab, first come first served and more spots to pitch a tent where you’d like.

My husband and I have been camping at this location since we met 13 years ago. We’d only been together a few weeks when he said, ‘Do you want to go camping now? I know a place.” We’ve returned every summer since with friends and dogs (and now some of those friends have kids in tow). There’s a shelter built over the water and a couple of cabins along the trail. Our favorite cabin was hexagonal and bordered to a dock you could swim off. That is, until last summer when this cabin was burned down, allegedly by some college students (that’s an unconfirmed rumor; we don’t really know what happened.) We were last Stayed there in May and when we returned in August our favorite cabin was a pile of glass and nails and charred steps leading to nowhere, but that hasn’t stopped us from returning and pitching our tent by the remains of the cabin or grab a shelter if one is available.

The pond water level was low when we were there in early summer so no jumping off the dock but we managed several swim strokes and watched a loon circle the pond, dive for his dinner and call us across the water. There is something magical about waking up in the woods and watching the sun seep through the trees over the clear calm water, the call of a loon echoing and the howl of a coyote as you lie down in bed, the smell of wood smoke on your Dress .

We returned in August and found the water even lower, some areas that were normally completely dry. We were lucky enough to grab the shelter over the water and settle into it for an amazing thunderstorm that lit up the pond and sky. Miraculously our fire survived the downpour and we were able to cook our dinner after the rain cleared.

Campgrounds are plentiful throughout Vermont in the summer, although most state parks require reservations and will likely find you staying with neighbors. I love finding those (mostly) unspoilt places where you can relax and get away from the people, lights and noise. Our favorite spot in Eden has no phone lines in sight – only trees. It’s quiet as you hear a beaver tail slapping the pond at the dam. I always bring several books with me while I chew them up in the hammock or sunbathe on the dock. There used to be a raft that has long since sunk, but some people still bring small boats/kayaks and floating gear. Our dogs are not swimmers but enjoy wading in the pond, chasing frogs and helping with firewood gathering.

Regardless of where you camp, a perfect way to spend a summer or fall weekend is to head into the woods and sit around a campfire with sticky hands.