rhododendrons beneath the birches
  Photo by Eileen Oktavec
Massed ‘P. J. M.’ rhododendrons with the Jay Massif on the horizon

Visiting the Birchwood and the Montgomery-Jay Peak Area

The Birchwood is on the Hazen’s Notch Road (Route 58) in Montgomery, Vermont.

The garden is exactly 3.2 miles east of the intersection of the Hazen’s Notch Road and Route 118 in Montgomery Center, and 6 miles west of the intersection of Routes 58 and 100 in Lowell.

The Birchwood is on the north side of the Hazen’s Notch Road. Please park on the south side of the road.

In the Middle of the Mountains: Approaches to the Birchwood

With the highest summits in far-northern Vermont, the Montgomery-Jay Peak Area offers some of the best mountain scenery in New England.  When you visit the Birchwood, you’ll not only see an extraordinary naturalistic garden.  You’ll also see outstanding natural scenery en route.  And you can easily explore even more of this beauty on the day(s) of your visit.

Conveniently, the region’s scenery is thoroughly described in a 208–page guidebook, In the Middle of the Mountains: Scenic Roads & Trails in the Montgomery-Jay Peak Area.*

The Hazen’s Notch Road itself provides panoramic views of the Green Mountain range—the Jay Massif (Big Jay, Little Jay, and Jay Peak), Jay Pass, Gilpin Mountain, Domey’s Dome, Buchanan Mountain, Sugarloaf Mountain, Hazen’s Notch, and Haystack Mountain.

Approaches to the Birchwood from the west include Route 105, which runs from St. Albans to East Berkshire, and Route 118, which connects East Berkshire to Montgomery Center. Both roads provide straight-ahead views of Jay Peak, Big Jay, and Little Jay.

Route 118 also approaches the Birchwood from the south. The road begins on Route 100 in Eden and quickly brings you to impressive mountain views on both sides of the highway: Elmore Mountain and the Worcester Range to the south; Bowen Mountain, in the Green Mountain range, to the southwest; the Cold Hollow range in the west; and Belvidere Mountain, another Green Mountain peak, just to the north.

Route 118 also runs along the shore of the beautiful undeveloped Long Pond, nestled below the steep slopes of Belvidere Mountain, and drops into the narrow valley of Avery’s Gore before reaching Montgomery Center.

Route 58 also leads to the Birchwood from the east. It crosses both Route 5 and Interstate 91 in Orleans and, on the height of land between Irasburg and Lowell, offers a 20-mile-long view of Green Mountain landmarks—Belvidere Mountain, Tillotson Peak, Haystack Mountain, Hazen’s Notch, and the near-vertical face of Sugarloaf Mountain, which forms the north wall of the Notch. The sharp point of Jay Peak is farther north.

West of Lowell, Route 58 turns to dirt and narrows as it climbs up to Hazen’s Notch. Then it zigzags steeply down from the 1,780-foot pass—drive slowly and carefully through this section. The road reaches the Birchwood about 2 miles beyond Hazen’s Notch.

From the north the Birchwood is approached on Route 242 (the Mountain Road), which runs from the village of Jay to Montgomery Center. The highway showcases close views of Jay Peak as it zigzags up the eastern slope of its 3,858-foot summit, the highest in the region.

Then it passes the Jay Peak Resort, crosses the Green Mountain range in the 2,220-foot Jay Pass, and offers more views of the Green Mountains and the Cold Hollow range as it descends to Montgomery Center.

* Published by the Montgomery Recreation Board and lavishly illustrated with beautiful color pictures by the photographer Eileen Oktavec, the pocket-size paperback describes 8 road tours, 7 easy walks, and 15 hikes in the region.   It also includes maps and a detailed index.  It’s sold throughout the region—including at the Birchwood.  You can also order it by mail: Simply write a check or money order for $12.95, payable to the Town of Montgomery, and mail it to: Town Clerk, Mountain Road, Montgomery Center VT 05471.  Be sure to include your mailing address.  Shipping is free.

Area Restaurants

The Birchwood does not serve meals, but:

  • Visitors are welcome to picnic on the grounds (while savoring its sweeping view of the Green Mountains) and:
  • The Montgomery-Jay Peak area is a recreation hub and tourist destination, so it offers ample accommodations, including restaurants or delis in Montgomery, at the Jay Peak Resort (11 miles from the Birchwood), and in the village of Jay (14.7 miles from the garden).

Please note: Few of these establishments are open every day, and some—especially those at the Jay Peak Resort (802-988-2611; www.jaypeakresort.com)—either close or reduce opening hours and dining options during off-season months.  It’s a good idea to contact them before you visit.

Open for breakfast, lunch, and dinner:

Serving breakfast, lunch and early dinner:

  • Jay Country Store, Jay, 802-988-4040

Serving lunch and dinner:

Serving late lunch and dinner:

Open for lunch and early supper:

Serving dinner:

Photo by Eileen Oktavec

In the Middle of the Mountains: Scenic Roads and Trails in the Montgomery-Jay Peak Area is an excellent guide when visiting the Birchwood