If someone had told me that I’d be hurtling down the side of Vermont’s highest mountain at 60 mph an hour, suspended from a zip line, I’d have told them that they were crazy.
The Stowe Mountain Resort is a major attraction for skiers in the winter but, for the summer, they’ve developed their ZipTour Adventure, one of the longest and fastest zip lines in North America.
After you’ve donned helmet and safety harness, you take the gondola up to near the top of Mount Mansfield at around 1300m.
It’s then downhill all the way on zip lines – in three stages – back to where you started.
The start of the zipline (Picture: Rupert Parker)Each stage has two parallel lines so you can experience it all with a friend, or companion.
The first, the Nosedive Zip, is the third longest in the US at just under a mile – and it seems to go on for ever as you hurtle 55m above the ground.
You can reach speeds of up to 60mph, but I was so scared that I was constantly pressing the brakes – although that made the ride last even longer.
The second stage, the Haselton Zip, although shorter, runs high above the trees with stunning views of Smuggler’s Notch, a narrow pass through the Green Mountains. All you see are trees and sky, until you dare to look down and see the resort far below.
The end of the zipline (Picture: Rupert Parker)The final stage, the Perry Merrill Zip, actually flies into the forest, giving you an exhilarating sense of speed for a scary two thirds of a mile, before ending close to the Gondola station at the bottom.
Before I came here, the only thing I knew about the state was the rather soporific show tune, Moonlight In Vermont, written by someone who’d obviously never been here.
I’d no idea that this part of New England, butting up against the Canadian border, was full of forests, with the Green Mountains, running north to south through the middle.
I’m the timid type yet Vermont spurred me on to all sorts of outdoor craziness.
Other outdoor activities to do while in Vermont:
Mountain bike the Cady Hill Climb trail
Stowe is a world-class mountain bike destination, with a large network of trails that are both fun and challenging, and cater for every ability.
Take a tour with Ranch Camp, following the Cady Hill Climb up steep paths though the forest to the Green Chair Overlook. Make sure you avoid those concealed tree roots, otherwise you’ll end up in the dirt.
Mountain biking the Cady Hill Climb trail (Picture: Rupert Parker)
Take a ride in a hot air balloon
The Stoweflake Hot Air Balloon Festival takes place every July with 25 hot air balloons filling the sky.
If you miss the festival, there’s a tethered balloon at the resort which you can ride every evening, depending on the weather.
Kayak the Lamoille River
The Lamoille River is perfect for a kayak trip, paddling gently downstream for four miles. There’s no white water here and the greatest hazard is getting grounded in the shallows.
Best of all, you end up at the Boyden Valley Winery for a tour and a tasting.
Kayaking on the Lamoille River (Picture: Rupert Parker)
Cycle round the breweries of Burlington
Burlington, on the shores of Lake Champlain, is Vermont’s largest city, and has a good craft beer and cider scene. Borrow a bike and get a taste in one of its many microbreweries.
Cliff jumping at Warren Falls
The Mad River has a collection of first class swimming holes, and some of the best are just below Warren Falls.
Jumping off the cliffs into the pools of clear green-tinted water is an exhilarating experience that everyone should try.
Swimmers at Warren Falls (Picture: Rupert Parker)
Jog the Stowe Recreation Path
Stowe is the quintessential New England village, with its clapboard houses and tall white church, so start your morning jogging their Recreation Path, a five and a half mile green way criss-crossing the West Branch of Little River.
Other things to do in Vermont:
Cruise Lake Champlain
A 90 minute cruise on the Spirit of Ethan Allen on the 120 mile long Lake Champlain is an opportunity to spot the dreaded Champ, Vermont’s equivalent of the Loch Ness Monster, and, if it doesn’t put in an appearance the glorious views of the Adirondack Mountains amply compensate.
Views from Lake Champlain (Picture: Rupert Parker)
Jay Peak waterpark
Just a few miles from the Canadian border, the Jay Peak Pumphouse indoor waterpark is where you can improve your surf skills, go drifting down their lazy river or ride one of their water slides.
For adrenaline junkies, the La Chute slide is a must. You climb up 20m and step into an enclosed tube where you cross your arms and legs.
On a signal, you drop vertically at 45 mph, then you’re thrown upside down through a full 360 loop, before arriving at the bottom six seconds later.
Visit Ben & Jerry’s Flavor Graveyard
The famous ice cream maker started from a gas station in Burlington but now has moved to Waterbury where, as well as taking a factory tour, you can visit their Flavor Graveyard and vote to resurrect your favourite.
Where to stay in Vermont and how to get there:
The Sun and Ski Inn makes a comfortable base in Stowe. King rooms from $194.
Jay Peak Resort is in the heart of the mountains, in the North of the state. Rooms from $115.
Hotel Vermont is a boutique hotel in downtown Burlington and offers free bike hire. Rooms from $229.
United flies to Burlington via Newark or Boston from London Heathrow. Return fares start from £919.11.
Hertz offers 7 days car hire from Burlington Airport, starting at £260.
For more information on visiting Vermont, see Vermont Vacation.
(Top picture: Getty)
MORE: Why you should head to Gran Canaria for the ultimate wellness retreat
MORE: The ultimate gourmet adventure: Where to find Italy’s most traditional foods
MORE: Hot sun, quiet beaches and good food: How a glamping trip to Croatia turned out to be the best of both worlds