Deep in the heart of New England, Vermont offers outdoor enthusiasts a playground of natural beauty and pristine wilderness. With its lush forests, rolling mountains, and a rich tapestry of vibrant foliage in the fall, Vermont is a hiker’s paradise. The state boasts a network of hiking trails, ranging from gentle strolls through tranquil meadows to more challenging rugged mountain hikes.
Vermont’s hiking trails provide a diverse array of experiences for all levels of hikers. The iconic Long Trail, the oldest long-distance hiking trail in the United States, stretches through the Green Mountains, offering breathtaking vistas and opportunities for extended backpacking adventures. However, for those seeking a more relaxed (and shorter) hike, Vermont boasts numerous day trails that lead to cascading waterfalls, serene lakes, and historical landmarks.
Whether you’re a seasoned trekker or a novice explorer, Vermont’s hiking trails promise an immersive journey through the state’s natural wonders, revealing the untamed beauty of this northeastern gem.
10. Sterling Pond Trail in Stowe
The Sterling Pond Trail is just 2.1 miles out and back trail that’s with only a moderate difficulty level. Sterling Pond Trail is situated in Smugglers’ Notch State Park, near Stowe, Vermont. Smugglers’ Notch is known for its scenic beauty and recreational opportunities.
The main feature of this trail is the pristine view of the alpine lake. With that said, trekking through the area means you’ll encounter plenty of mud and slick, rocky terrain, so be sure to wear the proper hiking boots for it.
9. Owl’s Head
Owl’s Head in Vermont’s Groton State Forest is a 3.9-mile loop that offers a spectacular view of Kettle Pond and the surrounding Green Mountains. It also features a man-made structure built back in the 1930s, the stone octagonal fire tower. The best time to take this trail is around sunset and, better yet, in the autumn when you can witness the breathtaking fall foliage.
Overall, Owl’s Head proves to be an easy hike for most, so you can even bring your children with you. However, you should be sure to bring the proper hiking attire.
8. Elmore Mountain
For a majestic hike in the forest, Elmore Mountain in Elmore State Park offers an enjoyable hiking trail that leads to the summit. Taking you through the damp, mossy forest of Elmore State Park, your hike will be complete with a 360-degree view fire tower and a lovely potential swim at Lake Elmore.
This hiking trail poses a moderate difficulty level, but it is also one of the most popular hiking trails in the state, so if you are hoping to avoid people on your hike, it may not be the best option for you.
7. Bald Mountain
Bald Mountain in Westmore, Vermont, is a 4-mile hike through the secluded trails of the surrounding hardwood forests. Located near Lake Willoughby, this trail proves to be the best trail to Bald Mountain if you are looking to escape the crowds.
Posing a moderate difficulty level, it should be noted that this trail features a steep climb through a forest of spruce trees. However, the 360-degree view of the Bald Mountain fire tower will be well worth the effort, giving you a panoramic view of the picturesque landscape.
6. Stowe Pinnacle
Stowe Pinnacle in Stowe, Vermont, features a 3.5-mile long hike with an elevation gain of 1,520 feet. It’s a short and steep climb to the top, which makes it a hike not for the faint of heart. Nevertheless, you’ll have a spectacular view of the Worcester Range at Mount Mansfield.
It’s a great place to set up a picnic, or if you don’t need rest, branch off onto some of the surrounding trails. On the downside, it’s located near a popular resort, which means isolation is out of the question.
5. Thundering Brook Falls Trail
The Thundering Brook Falls Trail is a well-known hiking trail in Killington, Vermont. The trail is a short 0.5 mile – there and back – hike, but it offers a fantastic view of the waterfall. Naturally, it’s a busy trail, but it’s easily something the whole family can do together, including the family dog.
However, if you go early enough, you may be able to avoid the crowds. And if you are looking for more to do after you reach the falls, you should know that it connects to the Appalachian Trail. So, there’s plenty more to explore!
4. Camel’s Hump
If you have the stamina for it, Camel’s Hump in Bolton, Vermont, is a 17-hike that only seasoned hikers should tackle. The trail offers stunning views of the forests that lead to the summit. Witness the glory of the Green Mountains and the picturesque Vermont countryside.
It’s a steep climb to the summit, so come prepared. In addition to the right boots, wear extra layers of clothing to stay protected and wear sunscreen. Also, be sure to drink plenty of water. Bring a filter because you’ll find there are plenty of streams in the area where you can refill your water bottle or canteen.
3. Mount Zion
The 1.8-mile loop at Mount Zion in Taconic Mountains Ramble State Park is an easy-to-moderate hiking trail with an elevation gain of just 326 feet. The surrounding terrain features a Japanese garden, forests, huge boulders, and much more!
Giving you jaw-dropping views of the mountains and fall foliage if you choose to go at the best time of the year, this hiking trail gives you a huge payoff even with minimal effort. Have a picnic with the family or enjoy your own company.
2. Quechee Gorge Trail
Hiking doesn’t always have to be a challenge. The 1.3-mile round-trip hike at Quechee Gorge Trail in Quechee, Vermont, will bring you to an ideal picnic spot near the Ottauquechee River. An easy trail, to be sure, and consistently maintained, you’ll find stunning views of nature at every turn.
The popular hiking spot, suitable for all ages, boasts plenty of opportunities for other outdoor activities, and it’s open year-round. You’ll find plenty of parking by the trailhead, and even pets are welcome here.
1. Windsor Trail
Open from Spring through Fall, the Windsor Trail to the Summit of Mount Ascutney is an unforgettable 5.2-mile hike. It can be somewhat difficult, but the trail gives you unique views of the surrounding landscape at Mount Ascutney State Park.
Winding through the forest with steep, rocky sections, you’ll be rewarded with panoramic views of the Connecticut River Valley, the Green Mountains of Vermont, and the White Mountains of New Hampshire. All in all, it’s your key to the very best of the Northeast United States.
Of course, before you can tackle any one of these trails, you’ll probably need a little fuel. Check out the best coffee shops in Vermont here.