Vermont is uncrowded, woodsy, independent and inviting. This northern New England state has resisted the rush of commercialism that has overtaken other pristine places. It’s hard to find anything resembling big-city living here; Vermont’s population center, Burlington, is home to fewer than 45,000 people. The state’s small towns are its essence, and there the traveler will find the pastoral hallmarks — dairy farms, sugar maples and quaint river-valley inns — that give Vermont its unmistakable character. Route 100, the state’s major north-south highway, traverses the Green Mountains and is a perfect fall foliage drive. For those who prefer to experience nature on foot, the Appalachian Trail enters the state in the southwest and winds north toward New Hampshire’s White Mountains.