Vermont Route 12 from Montpelier to Morrisville is a beautiful road, especially in its upper reaches, where it cuts through a near-wilderness of forested hills and along the North Branch of the Winooski River. It’s a road used daily by commuters, tourists, and local trucks. It’s also a major cycling route and you’ll almost always see somebody pedaling up its easy (for Vermont) grades or coasting down them. The road cuts through wetlands and it’s not unusual to see moose and, less commonly, bear. But most people — except for kayakers who paddle the North Branch when the water’s high enough for them to run the falls and pools — don’t realize that the real beauty is just off the road, where the North Branch cascades through the woods. It’s one of the most beautiful places in Vermont. Access is easy when you know where to go, and some of the people who do know what’s there leave behind beer cans, tires, an occasional sofa, and campsites. The Vermont River Conservancy has been working to preserve the area and to eventually make it better known and appreciated. I’ve been photographing parts of it for the VRC.