Hike, bike, zip-line, fly. These are just a few of the adventures we have gone on this summer for Venture Vermont. This time, we kept the fun right at the base of the mountain with Stratton Adventures ATV Tours & Paintball. Being a first timer for both activities, I was a bit nervous about navigating a machine up a mountain & battling my co-workers for the number one spot in a game of paintball. However, I found at the end of the day that this was one of my favorite ventures of the whole summer.
Stratton Adventures ATV Tours
Recently deemed a top foliage trip that kids love by The Boston Globe!
We started our adventure at the base of Stratton, next to the Gondola loading zone. Julie from Stratton Adventures starts with a safety briefing, and ensures that each rider is aware and informed of everything they need to know about the ATV. She informs you of anything you may encounter on your ride, so there are no surprises. I felt very safe after talking with her about operating the ATV. We started our tour up Lower Tamarack (under the gondola) and followed the work road.
Stopping near the Mid-Mountain Lodge, Julie asked how we were doing, because the mountain was about to get a bit steeper, an encouraged us to take photos of the amazing views. We traveled over the bumps of the rocky work road, taking in the breathtaking views of Bromley and surrounding peaks and taking time to appreciate the vibrant colors of the wildflowers in bloom on the once snowy trails.
Once we reached the peak about twenty minutes alter, a celebratory high-five was in place. Julie talked with us about the history of Stratton, and pointed out each peak we could see (Magic Mountain, Bromley, Okemo, etc.) and the surrounding ponds, lakes and reservoirs.
As we neared the time to start navigating down the mountain, Julie gave us an option to ride down the Meadows – an easy, steady ride – or navigate down more challenging terrain on Black Bear. We chose Black Bear, because we were feeling courageous that day. However, Julie says the most traveled route is Meadows – great for families or less experienced riders. Traveling down the mountain was exhilarating and being able to control the vehicle down a bumpy road was easier than I had imagined.
What to pack and What to Wear
Athletic wear is suggested, as you may move around a bit and possibly get dirty. Bring a jacket or sweatshirt, as it tends to be cooler at the summit. Wear close toed shoes – sneakers or hiking boots. Helmets are provided for you, and we suggest you wear sunglasses on a sunny or dry day – the trail can get dusty. Be sure to pack your camera and water to stay hydrated.
Anyone age 3 and up can participate in the ATV tours, however, drivers must be 16 with a valid drivers license to drive the ATV. Julie has a three seat gator that is great for families.
What We Learned
ATV’ing is much easier than we thought. It took a while to get used to the steering, but practice makes perfect. This is the perfect activity for fall. Once the leaves start changing, it is a great way to see the transformation up close as you ascend to the summit. Sunset rides to the summit are also offered – see photo below. Learn more about ATV tours here.
Stratton Adventures Paintball
On the seasonably warm September day, we ventured the the Sunbowl Base Area for a group game of paintball. We had a group of 9 players, many of whom have never played paintball before, including myself. I was a bit nervous about the game as a whole – as I have heard that paint balls can hurt when you are hit. However, I was pleasantly surprised to learn that the guns could be dialed down to reduce the speed of the paint balls (thus reducing the impact).
After a quick but thorough safety briefing, we dressed in our camouflage jumpsuits and masks and headed out onto the course – located where the ice castle was this past winter. We played two team games – where the objective was to eliminate players on the opposite team. We also played of capture the flag and a game of every man for themselves. I was surprised at the competitive nature that was brought out of me while running through the obstacles, crawling through the dirt and trying to get my fellow co-workers out of the game.
What to pack and What to Wear
You’ll want to wear athletic clothing or something you’re comfortable running or moving around in. Jumpsuits are available for rent, so you don’t get paint on your clothes – however, the paint will come off in the wash if you do get it on your clothes. Protective masks are also provided for you. Wear running shoes that you don’t mind getting a bit dirty. Pack water to stay hydrated.
The age range for paintball games is 10 and up. The speed of the paintball guns can be dialed down for a younger group – great for birthday parties.
What We Learned
Paintball is fun. Really, really fun. And when you have your skin covered, it doesn’t hurt to be hit. Julie was very informative in the safety briefing about the proper way to shoot and hold the gun, always to keep your mask on, and to never shoot when you are closer than 30 feet away from the target. As long as you follow her guidelines, you’ll have a blast. This is a great fall activity, especially during foliage season! Paintball is offered through the end of October – click here to learn more.
Stratton Adventures Highlights
Lauren “My favorite part of ATV’ing was the ride down. It was challenging and at times, even at 3 mph, a bit nerve-wracking. I really loved the adrenaline you get from playing paintball. Trying to get at your opponents while trying to not get hit, hiding in the brush or behind the tires, army crawling on the ground. Very exciting!”
Courtney “Both experiences were exhilarating in their own way. They’ll bring out the big kid in you. I loved the camaraderie of paintball and the free-as-a-bird feeling of the ATV tour.”
Cassie “I loved conquering my fear of paintball. Getting over my fear and actually really loving the game was a great accomplishment for me.”
Rob “Paintball was a blast! The folks running it were good, the course was fun and it was a great team building activity.”
Chris “Paintball is all fun and games; however, once you step on the field, it’s go, go , go! Run, drop, slide, roll, duck – The adrenaline kicks in and the fun is amplified. It’s a great group activity.”
Erin “Because of the equipment, staff and course I was surprised how professional I felt for my first time ever playing paintball (even though I wasn’t actually that proficient, I felt like I was).”
Stratton Adventures Website (Pricing, hours, more information ATV/Paintball)
About the Author
Cassie Russo | Growing up in central Massachusetts, Cassie ventured to the snowy mountains of Vermont almost every weekend until her late teens to enjoy her passion – snowboarding. After working at a ski shop while studying for a degree in journalism, Cassie knew Vermont was her next destination. You can now find her living her dream of residing in Vermont, pursuing a writing career and strapping a snowboard to her feet every day. When the snow melts, you can find her on her paddle board, on the tennis courts and searching for the next adventure.
Cassie’s Instagram and Twitter:@cassachusetts