SPRINGFIELD, Vt. – Located at the junction of the Black and Connecticut Rivers, Springfield offers a wide variety of outdoor options for leaf-peepers, from a leisurely Sunday drive through historic districts to an active weekend of kayaking, biking, and hiking.
Arrive in Springfield from Exit 7 on I-91 and take your pick from the following list, or combine them all for a great weekend of beautiful foliage and family-friendly outdoor activity.
From Exit 7 of I-91, go east on Route 11 towards Charlestown, N.H. In approximately half a mile, you will arrive at Hoyt’s Landing, a boat landing maintained by the Vermont Department of Fish and Wildlife. Hoyt’s Landing offers great access to the Connecticut River with a boat ramp and a large dock. There is ample parking and a shady picnic area on the river bank. Paddle the Connecticut for an hour or an afternoon—eagles are frequently spotted on the banks as you head south towards Bellows Falls.
One of the gems of outdoor life in Springfield is the Toonerville Trail, a former rail line converted to a bike and walking trail that runs from Hoyt’s Landing into the town of Springfield. Parking at the trailhead is found 0.2 miles from I-91 east on Route 11. The trail is paved and level, an easy stroll or ride for every member of the family. Curving along the bank of the Black River, the Toonerville Trail offers many beautiful vantage points, including the Iron Bridge that crosses the river approximately one mile from the eastern trailhead. At the bridge you may view the falls, enjoy the Memorial Garden maintained by the Springfield Garden Club, and read the history of the trail on the kiosk erected by local Boy Scouts.
Classic leaf-peeping drive
If you’d rather enjoy the beautiful scenery from the vantage point of your car, try this loop tour featuring a ride through historic Eureka Village, site of the early settlement that eventually became the town of Springfield.
The loop begins at the traffic light in the center of Springfield, at the corner of Summer Street/Route 143 and Main Street – this is mile 0 on your odometer. Coming from Main Street/Route 11 from the east, take a right-hand turn onto Summer Street/Route 143 and head up the hill, bearing to the right as you reach the top. Soon you’ll be out of the village, driving through the beautiful rolling fields of some of Springfield’s oldest farms.
At approximately 2.3 miles, bear left onto Eureka Road. Follow the historical markers along the next three miles or so and you’ll learn about the early history of Springfield.
At mile 4, bear left onto Barlow Road, which is a dirt road. Look carefully to your right at approximately mile 4.5 and you’ll see a marker for the old Crown Point road, one of the earliest military highways constructed in Vermont.
At mile 4.6, bear left again onto Highland Road – it may not be marked – and continue for approximately 0.3 miles. Here you’ll find a breathtaking vista and a small turnout from the road if you want to capture a photo. For the next two miles, Highland Road continues downhill into the town, offering many beautiful mountain vistas and historic farmsteads to view.
By mile 6.5, you will arrive at the Common and the cemetery; you have almost completed the loop. At this point if you take a hairpin right turn and double back on Orchard Street, you will arrive at the Hartness House Inn, another local landmark. Once the home of the governor, the inn is now open to the public and serves an excellent tavern menu most evenings, plus a Sunday brunch.
Past the cemetery, continue to bear to the right down the hill. At 6.7 miles, you’ll be back to the Main St./Summer St. intersection.
Hungry? Springfield has many restaurants including 56 Main on Main Street; the Riverside Diner, the Royal Diner, and Black Rock Steakhouse are all on River Street. You can get pizza at the Sub Way on Clinton Street, Village Pizza on Main Street, and 371 Restaurant on River Street. Perkins Deli on Valley Street offers a great sandwich menu. Chinese food is offered at Shanghai Garden and Oriental Palace, both on Clinton Street; Sheri’s on Main Street offers a great pub menu. There are several great food trucks along River Street.