Hartland, Vermont

Sumner Falls on the Connecticut River in Hartland, Vermont

The town of Hartland is located in Windsor County and is just south of of Hartford, VT, along the Connecticut River and I-91 corridor. With a makeup of more than 45 square miles, the town is home to approximately 3,300 residents. Hartland is a small town with a lot of character. It’s the type of town that comes to mind when you think of classic rural New England.

The Town of Hartland, Vermont

All About Hartland

When Hartland was first chartered in 1761 by New Hampshire Governor Benning Wentworth, it took the name granted to it as Hertford. This name was later changed to Hartland by an act of the Legislature in 1782 in order to relieve any confusion between the town names of Herford and Hartford, VT.

Located in the town center, near the intersections of Route 5 and Route 12, Damon Hall was donated to the people of Hartland by the generosity of Luthar and Betsey Damon. The hall was built in 1915 and is utilized to house the town office, community events, election and town meetings.

Places to See and Visit

Covered Bridges

The town is home to three Covered Bridges. The first of the two is is the Martins Mill, also known as the Martinsville, Covered Bridge. This covered bridge was built in 1891 by builder James F. Tasker. The Martinsville or Martins Mill Covered Bridge spans 135 feet over Lull’s Brook. There is a large parking area available and the lack of traffic makes this bridge perfect for photo opportunities – although access to the brook below is very limited. The bridge is located on Martinsville Road.

Hartland, VT Covered Bridges

Willard Twin Covered Bridges

The second and third covered bridges are located on Mill Road and are twin bridges. The first of the two being built in 1870 and its twin was constructed in 2001. In 1870 the Willard / North Hartland Covered Bridge was built. It spans 128 feet over the Ottaquechee River, subsequently in 2001 the Willard Twin Covered Bridge was constructed which spans 81 feet across the river.

The twin covered bridges are located in such close proximity that you can photograph both of them in the same shot. It’s a unique opportunity and there is parking available for your convenience. A short walk to the beach below and you can take wonderful profile pictures of the Willard Covered Bridges. Both of these bridges are located on Mill Street.

Sumner Falls

Located on the Connecticut River, Sumner Falls is a popular place for white water rafters to test their skills, and for those less adventurous to sit back and watch the action. The Sumner Falls are often referred to as the “Hartland Rapids” It can be tricky for those navigating the rapids due to the wide span of ledges reaching across the Connecticut River. Most adventurist advise rapid goers to stay river left for the simplest route, although in high water the river right rapids provide to fun and challenging chutes and falls. Running just to the left of the island is the fastest route through, as there is a chute that bypasses the last part of the rapid. These rapids are rated class II and III.

Sumner falls has always been a place that tested the will of man. In the early 1900’s, Sumner Falls was known as a dangerous place to loggers. As the longest log drive in New England passed through the falls, dozens of men would fall victim and die during the drive each year.

The loggers used to “drive” the logs down the Connecticut River, through the rapids and on to the big saw mills in Massachusetts. It took hundreds of men to maneuver these logs into position and onto the river, and then the drivers floated down the river on these masses of logs, steering them to their destination.

Sumner Falls / Hartland Falls, Hartland, Vermont

Unfortunately, this was a dangerous job, and many, many men died while working the drive. Throughout time and to this day visitors, rafters and residents alike will tell you that they see ghost loggers, “phantom loggers”, riding down the river and through the rapids at Sumner Falls. They’re visible as they pass through the falls and quickly vanish into thin air…

Aside from the phantom loggers on the river, many hikers also claim to come upon shadow figures walking the trails to and from the river. They are also believed to be ghost loggers from days past.

North Hartland Dam Recreational Area

A fun place to be and utilize year round is the North Hartland Dam recreation area located on Clay Hill Road. At this recreation area you’ll find a playground, nature trails, swimming and a boat launch. During the winter months the recreation area trails are open for cross country skiing, snowshoeing as well as snowmobile trails open for recreational use.

North Hartland Dam Recreational Area

While at the North Hartland Dam, you will also find shelters with electricity that can be rented for gatherings as well as other areas that are great for picnicking. There’s plenty of grassy areas for kicking a ball around, tossing a frisbee or just relaxing and enjoying the park. There is an entrance fee and fees for use of the shelters and boat launch and reservations for the shelters are recommended.

Eshqua Bog Natural Area

Well known for its amazing display of lady’s slippers blooming in June, Eshqua Bog is owned and operated by The Nature Conservancy and the New England Wildflower Society. It is located on Garvin Hill Road in Hartland. This is one of the most colorful places to visit in the Upper Valley, and a must visit for flower lovers.

The bog is home to countless plant and flower species such as cotton grass, pitchers plants, showy lady’s slippers, yellow lady slipper, northern bog orchids and green orchids, buckbean, larches and labrador tea to name a few. There is a diverse array of flowers and plants to immerse yourself in.

Showy Lady's Slippers at Hartland, Vermont, Eshqua Bog

The yellow lady’s slippers tend to begin bloom around June 6th, but it pales in comparison to the hundreds of showy lady’s slippers which tend to bloom around June 20th. The green and northern bog orchids bloom around the same time as the showy lady’s slippers, or just a few days after.

The conservancy is sprawling over 41 acres of land and there’s no shortage of things to see. Bring your camera and walk the trails, it’s going to be a fun day!

Calling Hartland Home

Hartland, Vermont offers residents the classic small rural New England town living. It is a quiet place with few major roadways and a lot of dirt roads. Out in the country, Hartland isn’t very far from the city of Lebanon and the West Lebanon, New Hampshire shopping district.

A quick ride to the more populated areas of the Upper Valley, Hartland is a perfect place to relax and unwind. Resting along the Connecticut River, residents here enjoy living in a small town. There is a bus route that runs along I-91 and into the heart of the Upper Valley, it’s a great way to save gas and go green while living in the area. The bus is called The Current and the “Upper Valley Commuter” bus runs daily from Exit 6 on I-91. For more information, click here.

Aside from all kinds of nature, things to do and places to see, Hartland, VT offers affordable living. The median home value in Hartford is in the mid $200,000 range. While this is certainly represents the average home value, there are larger farms and estates which are to be accounted for. Often single family home prices will rest below these figures and the larger estates and farmland will be on the higher end of the scale.

Nevertheless, there are housing opportunities and land opportunities in Hartland that will fit nearly any budget. It’s a great town to call home, and a wonderful place to live.

Hartland Town Website »

Andrew Eaton

Andrew is a New England native and has spent the past 15 years in the Upper Valley of New Hampshire and Vermont. He is a marketing guru and freelance blogger who loves all things Upper Valley.

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