… so women’s travel expert and author Marybeth Bond shares some of her top picks of walking tours to bring together you and mom.
We’re talking fresh air, incredible views, and plenty of activity that will keep the maternal bonding to a maximum.
INN-TO-INN THROUGH VERMONT’S GREEN MOUNTAINS
Tiny Vermont is a hikers’ paradise. An easy way to get around is to hike inn-to-inn through the Green Mountain National Forest—not only will you reap the benefit of daily moderate hikes, but you can rest assured that you’ll be eating and sleeping in style in traditional New England inns and restored farmhouses. If you go during peak season, between June and October, you can hire an outfitter to shuttle your luggage.
For mother-daughter pairings, Country Walkers is offering a six-day, women’s-only trip starting at $2,198. This experience includes easy-to-moderate hiking (up to five miles day, most meals, a visit to a local potter, a hands-on cooking class, and four-star inn accommodations. In mid-September and early October, Country Walkers also offers several fall-foliage walking tours. 800-464-9255, www.countrywalkers.com
Or check out Vermont-based Country Inns Along the Trail, which offers guided and self-guided walking tours. Foodies also might opt for the culinary-centered hiking packages, staying at inns known for their innovative dishes or a “Fresh Tour” which brings you to inns that rely on local, sustainable and organic cuisine. Self-guided trips start at $515, guided tours at $725 for three nights. 802-247-3300, www.inntoinn.com
HIKING IN THE ROCKIES THE EASY WAY
Does heli-hiking sound a hard-core adventure sport? Well, in the Canadian Rockies, helicopters and hiking are practically synonymous, and heli-hiking has become accessible to nearly all levels of walkers. Rather than bushwhacking your way over 10,000 feet of serrated peaks, this is the easy way up via chopper. Heli-hiking has been a tradition in the Rockies for more than 50 years and for good reason—the views from the top are astonishing and you’ll get the photo op of a lifetime. Talk about bragging rights!
But it doesn’t end there: Canadian Mountain Holidays offers three, four and six-day trips, which depart from Banff or Lake Louise. You’ll fly over and around the mountain over the course of several days, sometimes stopping three or four times a day to hike through various terrains. Overnight accommodations in mountain lodges and meals are included, with rates starting at $2,318. If it’s too late to head out for Mother’s Day, definitely head out in August which is the peak of wildflower season. 800-661-0252, www.canadianmountainholidays.com
OUTDOOR ADVENTURES IN ASPEN
If you’re into outdoor activities but can’t give up life’s creature comforts, Aspen offers the best of both worlds. It’s a pricey destination, but it’s worth it for the four-star properties housed in what used to be an Old West silver mining town. (Notice the century-old sandstone and brick buildings that now boast names ranging from Aspen Sports to Fendi.)You can spend the day hiking, biking or rafting and then sit back in the evening for some celebrity-spotting over cocktails.
Some of the best hiking and biking starts right in town—Smuggler Hunter Creek Loop is about a three-hour round-trip hike (8.5 miles) which starts off via switchbacks and drops down into the Hunter Valley. If you’re into more strenuous climbs, check out the 1,700-foot Ute Trail, a steep, two-mile climb that is well-worth the effort. And, while this is not exactly off-the-beaten path option, don’t miss the opportunity to snap a photo of Maroon Bell, which is perhaps one of the most photographed spots in Colorado. The Scenic Loop Trail around this wilderness area is an easy 2.2-mile hike. www.aspenchamber.org/
NAVIGATING THE ENGLISH COUNTRYSIDE
You may just feel like you’ve stepped into a watercolor painting when you first see the Cotswolds countryside. Located about 100 miles southwest of London, this hilly region is peppered with traditional English villages, complete with thatched-roof cottages and country manors.
There are about 3,000 miles of footpaths to choose from, with the Cotswold Way National Trail being the best-marked and gentlest trail of the bunch. This trail stretches nearly 100 miles from the market town of Chipping Campden southwest to the spa town of Bath.
Don’t worry, you don’t have to walk the whole thing! There are 20 or so villages in between so you can create your own inn-to-inn trip. Or better yet, choose a self-guided or guided tour with a walking company such as Cotswold Walks. This includes accommodations (basic to super-luxury), maps, and luggage transport between villages. Rates start at about $1,000 for 11 nights. 44 (0)1242-518888, www.cotswoldwalks.com
Don’t be intimidated by the idea of scaling the Swiss Alps. With nearly 250 miles of walking and hiking paths, Zermatt has the largest collection of navigable trails in all of the Swiss Alps. You can choose from easy day walks to mid-alpine hikes, or tackle one of the five most challenging trails.
One of most rewarding hikes is a moderately steep, three-hour trek up to Höhbalmen—at 9,000-plus feet, it’s one of the best ways to view the 14,693-foot Matterhorn. Head out in June and you’ll catch wildflower season, but you’ll avoid the crowds in the cooler month of September. Wilderness Travel has an eight-day guided trip starting at $3,395. 800-368-2794, www.wildernesstravel.com
But here’s a tip for non-hikers: You can get up-close views of the Matterhorn without having to put on your hiking boots. Three smaller peaks—Gornergrat, Klein Matterhorn (“Little Matterhorn”) and Rothorn—are accessible by train, cable car or funicular, and a glass cable car zooms up the Klein Matterhorn so you can catch a panoramic view of Switzerland, Italy and France.
From Marybeth Bond’s Best Girlfriend Getaways Worldwide and 50 Best Girlfriend Getaways in North America. Visit Marybeth’s Web site at http://gutsytraveler.com.
Check out Marybeth’s Top Five Tips for Women Travelers.
Get more options for mother-daughter adventures with Women’s Travel Clubs.
Don’t miss our Women’s Travel section.
Plus, find out How to Make Sure Mom Gets a Break on Vacation.
And if you’re looking for the ultimate feel-good family vacation, don’t miss Taking the Kids: Family Voluntourism.