Top 25 Quests
New! A best-of list from Valley Quest to you. Try one of our favorites today!
We have over 170 quests here in the Upper Valley. That’s a lot to sift through! To make it easier (and to celebrate Vital Communities’ 25th anniversary!) we’ve identified our Top 25 Quests—our list of all stars, gems, and MVQs. These are our favorites—each one written with care and charm, they deliver on beautiful locations, fascinating historical stories, and explorations into the ecology of our region. Pick one convenient to you and dive in today! Discovery, awe, and fun await.
How did we do it?
Because we want every quest to take you somewhere special and teach you something along the way, we evaluated all our quests on both their location and educational value. We then compared notes with longtime questers and asked them to edit our list based off their experience. And…voila! This special list of Valley Quest favorites was born.
Top 25 Quests
- Herricks Cove Quest—Rockingham, VT. An insider’s guide to one of the premier birding sites in the Upper Valley region. If you have a canoe or kayak, you’ll want to bring it for a paddle afterwards!
- The Strafford Watershed Quest—Strafford, VT. A driving (or walking!) tour of Strafford’s history.
- Gile Mountain Quest—Norwich, VT. Climb through the northern forest to expansive 360 degree views. Beautiful any time of the year, but check it out in the spring and fall for a chance to catch migrations in flight.
- The Forest Quest —Woodstock, VT. See and learn to “read” landscape history as you journey along old carriage roads. At over two hours, this is one of our longest Quests.
- Old City Falls Quest—Strafford, VT. A short, steep walk to a beautiful waterfall (bring your swimsuit) with one of the most fascinating historical stories around.
- Olcott Falls Quest—Wilder, VT. This Quest makes a loop around the historic village of Wilder, which was once called Olcott Falls. It focuses on a few of the old buildings from the 1890’s and early 1900’s that were built to house people who worked at the paper mill.
- Wright’s Mountain Quest —Bradford, VT. Discover a conserved working forest – and a great view of the Waits River watershed atop this beautiful hike.
- Trees of Hanover Quest —Hanover, NH. Here’s a great way to discover an under-appreciated regional asset: the Dartmouth College Campus is really an arboretum!
- Sally’s Salamander Meander—Hartford, VT. Discover a vernal pool and learn about salamanders and some mysterious rites of spring. **Best in springtime.**
- Chaffee Sanctuary Quest —Lyme, NH. Explore an alder swamp and wildlife sanctuary.
- Thetford Center Village Quest West—Thetford, VT. A deep dive into Thetford Center’s history, including the tale of a Revolutionary War hero from Thetford who managed a legendary feat in order to sound the alarm of British advances.
- Quest for the Kestrel —Windsor, VT. Discover the rich biodiversity of an old field, a great place to view birds and butterflies. Kestrels return to nesting boxes at this site every year in late March.
- 1764 – The Old Kings Highway Quest—Lebanon, NH. Imagine the early days of Lebanon as you travel along the aptly named Old King (of England)’s Highway.
- CREA Natural Communities Quest—Cornish, NH. A journey through forest, wetland, and field.
- Haverhill Corner Quest—Haverhill, NH. This walking tour features architectural gems in the Historic District. Haverhill Corner is a place where history, culture, art, the land and community come together.
- The Floodplain Quest —Haverhill, NH. Discover 20,000 years of natural & human history in the Connecticut River Valley.
- The Fort at #4’s Past and Present—Charlestown, NH. Discover the 18th century Fort grounds as you learn about Charlestown’s history.
- Monadnock Mills Quest—Claremont, NH. This Quest takes you back in history to city mills and then back to the present, with the restoration of some of those very same structures. This is a great area to enjoy food and scenery–make a day of it!
- Esther Currier Quest —Elkins, NH. An in-depth exploration of Beaver Pond and its conserved wildlife sanctuary.
- Cornish Flat Quest—Cornish, NH. Discover the rich legacy, in incredible detail, of a lovely pedestrian village.
- Pinnacle Hill Quest—Lyme, NH. Climb up Lyme’s popular hill and enjoy extraordinary Connecticut River views. If you’ve never been, a fun relic awaits you at the top. **TEMPORARY RE-ROUTE**DO NOT PARK ON CUTTING HILL RD** We’ve updated this Quest to reflect the new parking and starting point for this Quest. Please park at the new pull-off on High Bridge Rd and begin your Quest from there. Trail signs will help guide you up to the top of the hill, where your treasure lies.
- Sargent Hayes Quest—New London, NH. Dedicated to Linny Levin, this Quest rambles up the scenic Great Brook. It combines family and landscape history to provide a unique appreciation and understanding for this patch of land.
- Zebedee Wetlands Quest —Thetford, VT. This Quest leads to a scenic wetland and a premier birding site. Learn how to identify different plant and animal species and when to find them!
- Bill Hill Quest—Thetford, VT. Vermont writer Noel Perrin’s favorite spot was conserved by the Upper Valley Land Trust. Follow this Quest to read some of his poetry on the very hilltop that was his muse. Uniquely beautiful pastures, stone walls, and forested vistas await.
- The Windsor Architecture Quest—Windsor, VT. Learn the range of architectural styles one can find in Windsor today and come to see this town in a whole new light!
**Please note that the Quest for The Lonesome Pine was removed from the list due to road washout from recent storms. It has been replaced by the Zebedee Wetlands Quest!**
Thank you to the Kettering Family Foundation for sponsoring this project.
Vital Communities Program News
Interim Executive Director, Food & Farm Manager
Valley Quest, Food & Farm
Valley Quest, Food & Farm
— Beth Roy, Interim Executive Director, Food & Farm Manager
Beth leads Vital Communities' Food & Farm team, including its Upper Valley Farm to School programming, and also oversees Valley Quest. Before joining Vital Communities, Beth worked in the environmental and place-based education fields for 17 years in various positions around New England including at the Vermont Institute of Natural Science and as the Director of Education at the Nature Museum in Grafton, Vt. She previously served on the boards of the Vermont Science Teacher Association and the Vermont State-Wide Environmental Education Programs, a coalition of dozens of individuals and organizations promoting sustainability and environmental education in Vermont. Beth is a New Hampshire native and lives in Hartland, Vt., with her husband and two children, and serves on the Hartland School Board. When Beth is not working you will find her exploring the woods around her home with her family or cooking up a new taste test (made of local foods, of course!) for her children.
Valley Quest Coordinator
— Sandy Gmur, Valley Quest Coordinator
Sandy joined Vital Communities in Fall 2019 to coordinate Valley Quest. Sandy moved back to the East Coast after 32 years in Santa Cruz, CA, and is thrilled to be involved with an organization so interconnected with the issues and services that make the Upper Valley region a vibrant, collaborative, and future-thinking community. Sandy has a BA in Anthropology from Vassar College and worked for several years in Somalia and Greece. She later worked in school administration and then as a Senior Program Associate for the nonprofit Life Lab. Sandy is a founding member of a cohousing community in Santa Cruz and now lives at Cobb Hill Cohousing in Hartland. She is an Executive Committee member of the Sierra Club Upper Valley and volunteers with the Connecticut River Conservancy. Her nurture away from work comes from taking long walks, skiing, cooking, gardening, bread baking, and enjoying time with friends and family.