Last weekend, Debbie and I had the opportunity to spend some time in the south-central Vermont town of Pittsfield. The kind folks at Perfect Vermont and the Amee Farm Lodge invited Debbie to experience Pittsfield as part of a group. The invitees were fellow yoga instructors and travel industry bloggers.
We already knew Pittsfield from prior Vermont trips, but it was great to revisit the town and get to know it a whole lot better. The small town has seen much investment during the past 10 years. It all started at the Riverside Farm, a sister property to the Amee Farm, that is also owned by Joe and Courtney Desena.
The Desena’s and their various partners have been a driving force behind the growth of Pittsfield as a destination for outdoor activity. The activity has gone global through other Desena venture, including Peak Races and the Spartan Race, but it all started back in 2007 at the inaugural Pittsfield Peaks Ultra Challenge and Death Race.
Debbie ran that first Peak ultra. It was 55 miles +/- and rugged. I crewed for her with our nine month old son. It was a grand adventure. The little town of Pittsfield left an impression on us. Debbie returned to run Pittsfield again in 2008, but other than passing through on various Vermont trips, we hadn’t spent any time in town until this past weekend.
Our experience last weekend proves that they have some good stuff happening. In addition to the wedding business and races, they are looking to maximize utilization at the various properties. A tight-knit network of entrepreneurs, spurred by Desena’s own entrepreneurial spirit, have banded together to create something bigger.
Various businesses have cropped up to make Pittsfield a more central destination for outdoor oriented visitors. We toured the various properties, experiencing the wonderful vision that has transformed old farms and barns into interesting venues. The architecture and interior decoration are wonderful. The venues would be excellent for yoga retreats, business meetings, and other events. The Green Mountains setting makes the location special. There are trails right out the front door of both Riverside and Amee.
On Saturday night, we shared a dinner with the group on the first floor of the Amee Farm Lodge. The fabulous dinner was catered by Vermont Farms Catering, the same team that operates the food services at the Vermonts Original General Store. We were entertained by a guitarist and a trumpeter.
On Sunday morning, Debbie and I ran a 10 mile loop on roads and dirt roads. Most of the uphill came on South Hill Road. Then we returned to the lodge, grabbed our snowshoes, ran back through town. From there, we wandered through the woods and trails behind the Riverside Farm. You could get lost back there (and we did). Our run was in steady cold rain, though once we got above 1,500 feet on the north side of the mountain we were climbing, the rain turned to snow and sleet. The road was icy, but it was beautiful.
In the woods, the snow was still very deep, but it was like mashed potatoes. We had our running snowshoes and they weren’t very good for the conditions. We needed our longer/wider backcountry shoes, but we still scrambled about looking for the famous “Shrek’s Cabin” which we never found. Many of the trails are part of a network known as Green Mountain Trails. It seems like the organizers are taking a page from Kingdom Trails in order to attract mountain bikers, trail runners, hikers and other outdoors people.
After our run/hike, we got a tour of Sweet Georgia P’s, an organic farm operating out of the Amee Farm. The family operation is across the street from the Amee Farm Lodge. The family running the show moved to Pittsfield in 2013 to take over the operation. They have chickens, goats, and lots of vegetables. We really enjoyed talking to the farmers and sharing their passion for good food and sustainable agriculture. It made us want to be farmers. We weren’t even dissuaded by all of the mud!
We stopped at the General Store for lunch before leaving town. It took us just under three hours to get home and longer to dry out our gear. We love Vermont and Pittsfield is as nice a community as any. For us, access to trails is the key. It looks like we are going to be back there this summer. Debbie was inspired to alter her pre-Tahoe Rim Trail Endurance 100 game-plan to include the 50+ mile version of the 2014 Peak Ultra.