Remember when we talked about Dogtown, the local place that sounds like a dog park, but isn’t really a dog park–the name has historical origins–but so many dog lovers are drawn in by the name that in some ways it might as well be?
Well, Dog Mountain, in St. Johnsbury, Vermont, has an equally convoluted description. It DOES define itself as a dog park. But it has so much more to offer, from miles of hiking trails, to an art gallery and shop, a chapel, and multiple local festivals–so much so that dozens of non-dog owners visit every year as well, and everyone is equally welcome.
Folk artist Stephen Huneck (raised in Sudbury, MA) and his wife Gwen were inspired to open the place on their Vermont property in the mid-90s. The chapel was an integral part of the original idea. Everyone is welcome to leave a memorial note for their pets, and it is wallpapered in them. Even the most stoic will find it difficult to leave with dry eyes. Sadly, the memorial has wider implications now, because after a lifetime struggle with physical and mental illness, Huneck took his own life in 2010 and his wife later followed. But they’ve left a beautiful legacy, and and supporters claim to want to keep it open and free, and donations (either direct or through the online store) and volunteers are always welcome.
Last week we were on Craig’s family’s annual camping trip and decided to check it out. The entire property is off leash if you desire, and dogs are allowed in the buildings as well. Huneck’s sculptures adorn the property, the area is full of wildflowers, and there seem to be water bowls set around. There is a doggie play structure and a pond where swimming is welcome–if you have four legs.
The St. Johnsbury area is pretty kid-friendly otherwise, as well. There is a lot of stuff to do mentioned in our more general write up from last year. In that article, I neglected to mention it is also near the home base for Circus Smirkus. Although you don’t have to go to Vermont to see them; they are in Waltham next weekend!
Despite the bittersweet history, this is a happy, peaceful place where community and common interests come together. We love traveling New England and finding places where art, nature, play, and kid-friendly stuff come together and Dog Mountain is a great one.