Vermonters are understandably proud – and sternly possessive – of their Northeast Kingdom. It's the one truly remote place they can go to escape the winter ski hordes, and it's easy to see why. Flanked by the Green Mountains to the west and smack up against Canada to the north, the state's 2,027 square miles of farmland, glacial drift terraces, granite bluffs, and endless miles of hardwood – 80 percent of the area is forest – are invigorating and easy to get lost in. Vermont is also a great place to spend a postcard New England–style New Year's, where you can bump into oddly familiar faces: Descendants of Norman Rockwell's paintings live all over the state. The Wildflower Inn, in Lyndonville, is an old village-style farmstead on 500 pristine acres. It sits on the Kingdom Trails, which are 30 miles of remote cross-country skiing and skate-skiing created by 60 local landowners; they run through hay farms, quiet pine forests, and maple groves studded with sap buckets.
"It's a working landscape," says Tim Tierny, the 47-year-old executive director of the trails. "So you're ducking under the hoses of sap lines or past farmers pitching hay." The fields roll away from the storybook town of East Burke, which Tierney describes as being "like a Fisher-Price village; you're waving at the postman or baker every day."
For even more remoteness, the Eden Mountain Lodge, in Eden Mills, has log cabins and cottages spread around 140 acres of forested trails, meadows, and mountain woodlands where visitors can hike or snowshoe. There are also dogsled rides, pulled by what locals call the "un-chained gang" of huskies, who are raised cage free and will put you in mind of a mini Iditarod.