The People's Press - Meriden, Wallingford and Central Connecticut's Newspaper

Appalachian Trail Adventures (ATA) and the Summit Lodge are excited to announce an affordable all-inclusive fitness vacation. We know you are as concerned about your travel budget as you are about the comfort and convenience of your accommodations. That's why we are offering the best possible spa vacation at the lowest prices. We provide guided hikes, snacks, breakfast, lunch, dinner and accommodations starting at the spectacular low rate of $157.00 per night, per person, for double occupancy, including taxes and gratuities. We offer massages, yoga and cooking classes à la carte. Book your adventure before May 8th and receive a $10.00 credit per night, per person, for stays three nights and longer.

ATA is a unique hiking and wellness spa for hikers of all abilities. Offering daily guided hikes in the Green Mountains of Vermont along the Appalachian Trail and the Long Trail, followed by excursions to Vermont's scenic villages. After the hikes guests can unwind with a late afternoon yoga class and/or a massage. But the fun doesn't stop there, after dinner a registered dietitian presents cooking demonstrations while discussing nutritional facts and myths. Unlike most spas, ATA's owner John Keough is there daily to provide guests with personal service.

In collaboration with registered dietitians we create a delicious spa menu for those seeking healthier meals. ATA is able to cater to special dietary restrictions and offers two serving sizes. These are a weight loss portion or a hiker's portion so our guests can have customized meals. This enables ATA to cater to couples, athletes, weight loss vacationers, as well as to all those with no dietary restrictions who seek to eat healthier. Guests will be empowered to kick start a new lifestyle, as we introduce them to several alternatives or options to choose from in order to attain better health, healthier weight and improved fitness.


Spa Stop Along the Appalachian

The Wall Street Journal, By Marshall Crook


Luxury spa service and the Appalachian Trail may not be the most obvious pairing, but Appalachian Trail Adventures in Vermont now offers a combination of outdoor activities and indoor pampering for hikers. Based in the Grey Bonnet Inn in Killington, Vt., Appalachian Trail Adventures offers a Hiking Spa Vacation program with guided hikes of the Appalachian and surrounding trails in the Green Mountain National Forest. Program includes daily transportation, breakfast, lunch and accommodations at the Grey Bonnet. Rates start at $130 per person, per night. Daily a la carte options are also available: massage, yoga, tennis, canoeing, cooking classes and more. Working with registered dietitians, the package offers daily spa menus balancing carbohydrates, proteins and healthy fats.


Fitness vacations mean fun in great outdoors

Courier Journal, By Larry Muhammad


Athletes, exercise buffs and families that like spending time together outdoors are taking vacations that blend fitness activities with scenic splendor, like the guided hikes by Appalachian Trail Adventures, a Killington, Vt., organizer of wellness tours.  The Appalachian tour takes visitors to the Green Mountains of Vermont along the Appalachian Trail and Long Trail, with excursions into beautiful villages. Afterward, visitors can unwind with a yoga class, therapeutic massage or water aerobics, enjoy a fine meal and then watch a registered dietitian give a cooking demonstration with nutritional information. .For Appalachian Trail Adventures, go to



Hiking and Wellness Spa

Hartford Courant 

Exertion and Indulgence: Appalachian Trail Adventures (ATA) offers a combination of outdoor activities and indoor pampering for adventure vacationers. ATA offers a hiking spa vacation with guided hikes in the Green Mountain National Forest in Vermont for all abilities. Included are daily transportation, breakfast, lunch, dinner and accommodations at the summit Lodge. Rates start at $160 per night, per person. Daily a la carte options are available: massage, yoga, tennis, canoeing, cooking classes and more. For more information, visit


Full spa treatment built on a program of daily, guided hikes

reFresh reCharge reNew Magazine 

Get acquainted with the northernmost reaches of the Appalachian Trail with an all-inclusive visit to this "hiking and wellness spa" in Vermont's Green Mountains. Here, you'll find a complete program of mountain hikes (with visits to nearby villages); stretch, water aerobics, and yoga classes; and evening activities including lectures on cooking, nutrition, stress-management, and hiking. Treks are available for adults of all ages and abilities, and advanced hikers can attempt to "bag" all five of Vermont's 4,000-foot-plus mountains with spa staffers. Other special programs include the weight-loss-focused Bad Habit Breaker Program and the Lifestyle Change Program, both of which include on-site sessions with registered dieticians. Balance your relaxing treatments with invigorating activities like canoeing, kayaking, fly-fishing, tennis, horseback riding, and mountain biking.


New Hiking Guide Service

Rutland Business Journal, By Karen D. Lorentz


John Keough recently launched Appalachian Trail Adventures (ATA), a hiking program that blends outdoor activity with a combination of ways to get healthy. "This program is ideal for anyone wishing to quit smoking, lose weight, or jump start their health kick," he said of his new business.


The ATA program, which operates out of the Summit Lodge in Killington, offers guided hiking along the Appalachian and Long Trails and on beautiful trails all over the state of Vermont. "We try to add a 'wow' factor to the end of each hike, be it a view, a covered bridge, or a cave to explore. Then we complete the day with a visit to a Vermont village or town like Manchester, Middlebury, Woodstock, or Quechee," Keough noted.


He describes his business as a "hiking spa," explaining that in addition to the daily hikes, there is a health and fitness component provided by such options as a morning stretch class and afternoon fitness or yoga class or water aerobics. There's also an emphasis on healthy eating with a spa menu provided by a registered dietician.


"Each evening we offer a movie (one is on stress management), an educational lecture (such as Vermont history and other topics), or a demonstration (on cooking, how to use hiking gear, etc.). It's an all-inclusive vacation package with activity, meals, and accommodations that make it very appealing to people," he said.


The Summit Lodge offers upscale comfort with spa amenities including massage therapy, reflexology, acupuncture, or cymatherapy. There is also fitness equipment, an outdoor pool, a Jacuzzi, a sauna, outdoor tennis courts, and a pond.


Personal trainers, registered dieticians, and tennis professionals are also available to provide personalized instruction. Other options include canoeing, kayaking, horseback riding, rock climbing, fly fishing, cycling, and mountain biking. These options are available on an a la carte (extra cost) basis.


Keough is a 1993 graduate of the College of St. Joseph in Rutland with a degree in business management. He moved to Vermont in 1989 and has worked at a variety of jobs. He's been leading hikes for 20 years and teaches skiing at Okemo in winter. Having worked for hiking programs for several years now, he decided to start his own business and found the charm and amenities of the Summit Lodge a good match for the program he had envisioned. Novice, intermediate, and advanced hikes are available. People can sign up for a hiking vacation of any duration as he has five regular guides and another dozen he can call on.


Heart-To-Heart Profile: Appalachian Trail Adventures

Heart of New England


Appalachian Trail Adventures is a spa with a unique approach to health and fitness -- with hiking as its core activity.  It provides daily guided hikes along the Appalachian Trail and the Long Trail throughout the Green Mountains of Vermont.  Its guests are hikers who do not feel comfortable hitting the trails alone as well as those seeking a fun weight loss program. The spa is located less than a mile from the Long Trail and the Appalachian Trail to provide maximum access to the hiking trails.


We spoke to Appalachian Trail Adventure owner John Keough, who has been guiding in Vermont for over 20 years and who is intimately familiar with the region's hiking trails, mountains, valleys and villages.  He has worked for the EPA, The Natural Conservancy and the State of Vermont exploring caves, mines and documenting bats.


What inspired you to start Appalachian Trail Adventures? I enjoy sharing my love of the outdoors, hiking and healthy lifestyle to others.   I have been exploring Vermont for 20 years which provides me an incredible knowledge of Vermont history and attractions. Before I started Appalachian Trail Adventures I worked at one of the oldest hiking spa in the country for six years.  Before that I lead numerous guiding trips in Vermont, hiking, caving and snowmobiling.


What brought you to Vermont? I am originally from the Boston area but skiing brought me to Vermont during high school; I loved this area -- and skiing -- so much that I ended up attending college in the Killington (Vermont) area.  


What do you love about Vermont? Vermont is great place to live, the people are so friendly and the state is so beautiful. It's a pleasure to drive to work every day and look at the beautiful green mountains and blue skies.  It's a great place to live if you're an outdoor enthusiast like myself.  I can go out my home door and jump on the snowmobile or go ATV riding, mountain biking, cycling, snowshoeing, hiking to an historic gold mine or to a beautiful vista.


You have been "caving" for ten years and co-discovered the largest cave in New England. Tell us about that.   It was a very exciting time, we were the very first people to see this cave (located in Vermont) in the history of mankind! The first to leave footprints and our lights were the first to shine in these rooms. The cave is home to a colony of 25,000 bats. We are very lucky to see an albino bat in this cave, which is very rare.


What is unique about your business, compared to other adventure travel businesses? We offer a dual program for both weight loss guests, stress management, and healthy minded vacationers who wish an all inclusive vacation. The accommodation, meals, hiking program, weight loss program, yoga classes, water aerobics, stretch, cooking demonstrations, nightly lectures and movies.


Where do your guests stay?  They stay at the Summit Lodge which has air conditioned rooms and a spa.  Meals are prepared by a registered dietitian, and are a healthy balance of carbohydrates, proteins and healthy fats. We also offer special diets, such as vegetarian, vegan, wheat and dairy-free options. Our program is designed for those seeking a healthier lifestyle, including weight loss, by providing two meal sizes: weight loss portions and hikers' portions.


Could you explain your hiking programs? Our Peak Bagger Program is for those advanced hikers staying 7 nights or longer. Guests can hike all five of Vermont's 4,000 foot mountains, the Appalachian Trail and the Long Trail. The Long Trail is the oldest long distance hiking trail in the country. Those who summit all of Vermont's 4,000 footers, are awarded with a certificate of accomplishment. (This feat, in the hiking community, is referred to as "peak bagging.") These mountains we hike are the best advanced trails Vermont has to offer. We travel to beautiful trails near some of the quaintest villages. If guests are not available to stay for a week and climb all five mountains, not to worry.  We keep records of which peaks they have climbed. On their next visit or visits, when you finish the 4,000-footers, we will award the "peak bagging" certificate of accomplishment.


We also have a program called Vermont's Vista and Village Vacation for guests who would like to go on vacation for 1-6 nights, which takes intermediate hikers to Vermont's most beautiful vistas, to a waterfall, a historic mine, or to a crystal clear lake. The majority of our hikes are in the Green Mountain National Forest along the Appalachian Trail and Long Trail. The Long Trail is the oldest long distance hiking trail in the country. Afterwards, we explore the quaintest villages in Vermont, stopping at favorite attractions.


Tell us about your weight loss programs. We have what's called our Lifestyle Change Program, which is a 7 to 14 night stay.  This program can make a significant difference in lifestyles through modifying eating and exercise habits. Guests can anticipate receiving weight loss education and leave feeling mentally and physically enhanced. It is a perfect way to learn new routines, abandon bad habits and make lifestyle changes.


For those who can't get away for a week, we have also designed a Bad Habit Breaker Program. Even in that short time (2 to 6 night stay) guests can start to feel the benefits and start on their path to weight loss, enhance muscle gain, reduce stress and receive weight loss education. It is a perfect way to kick-start a new lifestyle and routine, providing long-term incentives to make real changes in your life...all in a beautiful and relaxing Vermont setting, I might add!


Do you have any "specials" throughout the year? Yes, for guests staying 3 to 13 nights our rates drop and for 14 nights our rates drop even more. For an incredible deal check our double occupancy rates.


What are your most popular programs? And who participates in your hiking programs? Our most popular program is our Peak Bagger Program and our weight loss programs. While we do get the occasional local Vermonter participating in our programs, the majority of our guest are from around state and out of the country and the majority are women. Our guests run from young adults to seniors seeking health and fitness at different ability levels. Do you have any new programs in the works? We plan on expanding out fitness classes' next season and offer facials, pedicures and manicures.


Tell us a little about the area in Vermont where your business is located. We are located in the heart of the Green Mountains of Vermont. Killington Mountain is Vermont's second largest mountain and home of the famous Killington ski area.  Within an hour drive is the quaintest villages of Woodstock, Quechee, Manchester and Middlebury.


What are some "can't miss" attractions in the area? The Vermont Soap Factory, the Vermont Institute of Nature & Science, Simon Pearce Glass and Pottery, the Frog Hollow Galleries (a unique collection of fine traditional and contemporary Vermont crafts done by over 250 Vermont artisans). Down the street we stop by art galleries, rare book shops, pottery shops, the Vermont Folk life Center and Woody Jackson's Holy Cow studio (his legendary art, some of which you have seen on Ben & Jerry's ice cream, is a synonymous of Vermont). Gillinghams & Sons, the oldest general store in Vermont (established in 1886, the shop carries the finest products from Vermont and around the world.) Our program also offers side trips Cold Hollow Cider Mill (New England's most famous cider). A favorite is the Granville Bowl Mill and antiques, opened in 1857, it's the oldest mill in the states.

What do you do for fun when you're not running hiking programs? Besides working on my house, I go caving, camping and explore places where I haven't been before in Vermont and the northeast. I truly love to explore! In the winter I enjoy snowmobiling and teaching skiing.

Press inquires can contact John at 888-855-8655 or use the contact page.