Hiking & Biking -- Scenic hiking trails ranging in difficulty from challenging to easy-as-an-after-dinner-stroll can be found up in the hills a short drive from town. At the Green Mountain District Ranger Station, ask for the free brochure Day Hikes on the Manchester Ranger District, which lists 19 hiking trails easily reached from Manchester.
A scenic drive 30 to 40 minutes northwest of Manchester Center takes you to the Delaware and Hudson Rail-Trail, approximately 20 miles of which have been built in two sections in Vermont. The southern section of the trail runs about 10 miles from West Pawlet to the state line at West Rupert, over trestles and past vestiges of former industry, such as the old Vermont Milk and Cream Co. Like most rail-trails, this one is perfect for exploring by mountain bike. You'll bike sometimes on the original ballast, other times through grassy growth. To reach the trail head, drive north on Route 30 from Manchester Center to Route 315, then continue north on Route 153. In West Pawlet, park across from the old-timey general store (a good place to pick up refreshments), then set off on the trail southward from the old D&H freight depot across the street.
The hills around Manchester are full of other great touring rides, too; your headquarters should be Battenkill Sports Bicycle Shop (tel. 800/340-2734 or 802/362-2734), at 1240 Depot St. in downtown Manchester Center. It's a wonderful little place, with free local bike maps and a range of rentals from hybrids to touring cycles to mountain bikes.
Canoeing -- For a duck's-eye view of the rolling hills, stop by BattenKill Canoe Ltd., on Rte. 7A in Arlington (tel. 800/421-5268 or 802/362-2800; www.battenkill.com). This friendly outfit offers daily canoe rentals for exploring the Battenkill River and surrounding areas. Trips range from 2 hours to a day, and the firm specializes in multiple-night, inn-to-inn canoe packages. The shop is open daily in season (which runs from about May-Oct) from 9am to 5:30pm, and usually from Wednesday through Friday during the rest of the year (but check ahead if you're coming during those months).
Fly-Fishing -- Why not learn from the best? Aspiring anglers can sign up for fly-fishing classes taught by skilled instructors affiliated with Orvis (tel. 800/235-9763), the famous fly-fishing supplier and manufacturer based in Manchester. The 2-day classes (about $430 per person) include instruction in knot tying and casting, plus some catch-and-release fishing on a company pond and the Battenkill River. Classes are held from late April until mid-October, and special rates are available at the Equinox Resort for visiting Orvis students.
Note: This information was accurate when it was published, but can change without notice. Please be sure to confirm all rates and details directly with the companies in question before planning your trip.