Walking or hiking Vermont trails and mountains makes a great vacation
Many wonderful walks and hikes for all ability levels are found in Vermont’s Green Mountains, Lake Champlain and its islands, and throughout the state’s towns and valleys. Read through the Resources and Preparing to Walk sections, then browse the listings below for the right walk for you, your family, and children. Listings include difficult, moderate, and easy walks as well as in-town strolls.
The Long Trail and the Green Mountain Club
The 272-mile Long Trail was the first long distance hiking trail in America. It was built in 1910 by the Green Mountain Club, which still maintains the Trail. The Long Trail has many sections appropriate for beginner, average, and expert hikers, families, kids, and older folks. Trails are rated as easy, moderate, and difficult, and by length and other factors.
The Long Trail follows the main ridge of the Green Mountains from Massachusetts to Canada and crosses peaks of Stratton Mountain, Mount Mansfield, Jay Peak, and Camels Hump. It has a side trail into the state’s Northeast Kingdom. It coincides with the Appalachian Trail for 100 miles in the southern third of the state.
The Green Mountain Club operates a visitor center on Route 100 in Waterbury Center. It publishes trail guides and other useful information on the Internet and in print. The Long Trail Guide is the official guide to the Long Trail and its side trails. The guide and Day Hiker's Guide to Vermont, which includes trails outside the Long Trail System, cover most of the hiking trails in Vermont.
The visitor center in Waterbury Center provides guests with hiker information, merchandise, access to the Short Trail through the woods, a picnic area, toilets, and spectacular views.
The Long Trail is 272 miles long with 175 miles of side trails and 70 primitive shelters. It includes easy, moderate, and difficult trails, and walks for kids. The Green Mountain Club asks walkers to use Leave-No-Trace etiquette, meaning carry in and carry out all belongings.
The Cross Vermont Trail will be a 90-mile path connecting towns across Vermont from Lake Champlain to the Connecticut River. Thirty miles of the trail are built and open to the public. It is expected to be a a multi-use (walkers, bicycles, cross-country skis), four-season path across following the Winooski River and Wells River valleys.
Maps and guides to the trail are posted online. Maps are detailed and excellent. Existing parts of the trail go near Wells River, Newbury, Ryegate, Groton, Marshfield, Plainfield, East Montpelier, Montpelier, Middlesex, Berlin, Moretown, Waterbury, Duxbury, Bolton, Richmond, Williston, and Burlington.
Preparing to Walk:
- Always take a map and a compass.
- Mountain weather changes quickly! Check the weather forecast before you start. Be aware of changes in weather. If a storm is coming, get off the summit.
- Weather at the peaks is colder, windier, and wetter. Dress with a layer close to your body for wicking sweat away from your skin, then a layer like fleece for warmth, and a layer like a nylon shell or Gore-Tex to block the wind.
- Wear sturdy hiking boots and good socks. If your boots are new, start with short hikes.
- Always take more liquid than you think you’ll need. Always take food like power bars, string cheese, bananas, raisins, nuts, M&Ms.
- Your pack should also have a first-aid kit, a flashlight, a pocketknife, and a whistle.
On the Trail
- Treat all water by boiling, filtering, or chemically treating.
- Carry out all of your trash (including biodegradable items like orange peels).
- Use the privy if the site has one. Otherwise, dispose of human and pet waste in a "cat hole" at least 75 paces away from the water sources.
- Give wild animals plenty of room.
- Build a fire only in an established fire pit.
- If you’re staying overnight, use the lodges or the designated tenting sites.
P.O. Box 395 Killington, VT, 05751 Phone: 802-353-2954
Get your hike on! And don’t miss dinner!
Park HQ and Nature Center, 44 Stillwater Road (off Route 232) Groton, VT Phone: 802-584-3822
Several easy hikes of 0.25 to 3 miles; good for kids
Kettle Pond Trail and Kettle Pond Portage Trail. This moderate walk goes around a secluded lake. Trail leaves the parking lot off VT Route 232. The trail divides and goes to the water's edge. At the far end and south side of the pond, the trail is rocky and wet. Ends at Kettle Pond camping area. (3 miles)
Owls Head Trail. An easy walk to a scenic vista of Lake Groton, Kettle Pond, and the Green Mountains. Trail starts off the road from New Discovery to the Osmore Pond scenic area. Level to intermediate terrain. Bypassing a swampy area, trail descends and then climbs. (1.5 miles)
Montpelier Wells River Rail Trail. Good place for walking, bicycling or horseback riding. Gradual, 7-mile grade through the state forest. The Rail Trail can be reached at Rickers Pond campground, the Overlook parking area, Boulder Beach Road, the Northern parking area on VT Route 232 near New Discovery, and the Kettle Pond parking lot. (7 miles)
517 Old Guilford Road Guilford, VT, 05301 Phone: 802-254-2610
Easy 0.5 to 1-mile walks; great views; good for kids
Sunrise Trail is a 1-mile loop trail across level and slightly sloping ground. Views about halfway along the trail, which is wooded the whole way. Sunset Trail is a 0.5 mile loop trail on the western side of the park, starting near the entrance and passing through the play field. The remains of the Boyden Farm, dating form the 1880s, can be seen along this trail. Farm relics include stone walls, a small shed and farmhouse. Broad Brook Trail. This 0.5 mile trail descends from the campground to a popular swimming hole on Broad Brook. The trail is steep in sections, and therefore is a much more strenuous hike than the other trails.
65 Emerald Lake Lane East Dorset, VT, 05253 Phone: 802-362-1655
Best for camping, swimming, paddling, fishing, walking & hiking; motorized boats prohibited
413 US Rte 7 South Bennington, VT Phone:
6443 Mountain Road Stowe, VT, 05672 Phone: 802-253-4014
Moderate to difficult trails in high mountains; not for children
See trail maps.
See general description of this park.
274 Raymond Road Colchester, VT, 05446 Phone: 802-893-5210
Five easy or moderate walks; 0.25 to 1.50 miles; some good for kids
The park’s trails offer three loops and a variety of hiking combinations ranging from 0.6 miles to 3.5 miles. Most are rated moderate difficulty; the Burns and Allen Trails are rated easy. Views of the lake, ridges, and distant mountains. Parking is next to the park office at the entrance to the property. Pets are welcome; proof of rabies vaccination is required. The Burns, Muhley, and Island View trails are designated off-leash areas.
Brighton State Park, 102 State Park Road Island Pond, VT, 05846 Phone: 802-723-4360
Easy loops of 0.25 to 0.50 mile, with guide to natural sights; good for kids
All trails have woodland views and are easy, from 0.25 to 0.50 mile. They are called the Red Pine, Main, Shore trails, and the Loggers Loop. Fun for nature watchers of all ages.
1826 Back Mountain Road Windsor, VT, 05089 Phone: 888-409-7579
Recommended for hiking & hang gliding; pets permitted
See a full description of Mount Ascutney State Park.
856 VT Route 12 Lake Elmore, VT, 05657 Phone: 802-888-2982
Mix of easy and moderate walks 0.5 to 1.25 miles; some good for kids
Two trails in the park are rated moderate to difficult, and not for children. Elmore Mountain Trail (also called Fire Tower Trail) is 1.25 miles, ending at a fire tower with spectacular views of the Presidential Range in New Hampshire to Jay Peak and Mount Mansfield in Vermont. The Balancing Rock Trail is 0.5 miles through woodlands and along ledges, leading to a cool boulder balancing on its tip.
Mountain Brook Nature Trail guide.
Visitor Center, 6054 Woodstock Road (Route 4) White River Junction, VT Phone: 802-295-6852
Four hiking loops of 1 to 2 miles with moderate rating; good for kids
The walk alongside Quechee Gorge is one to two miles and easy, except for a mild elevation gain. The walk gives you a view of the Gorge and then takes you along the gorge, past waterfalls and Dewey's Mill Pond. Start at the visitor center and follow the spur trail behind the building to the main trail. Turn right, walking upstream. At the Route 4 overpass, notice a good view of the gorge from the highway bridge. Continue upstream on the trail; you will see a dam, waterfalls, and a neck of land that runs between Ottauquechee River and Dewey's Mill Pond.
Season is mid-May to late October.
5425 Mount Philo Road Charlotte, VT, 05445 Phone: 802-425-2390
Park at mountain top has magnificent views; camping; hiking trails; pets allowed
See a full description of Mount Philo State Park.
3570 Lake Dunmore Road Brandon, VT, 05733 Phone: 802-247-5925
Mix of easy and difficult trails including a waterfall; two trails offer hiking for kids
Popular trails are the Falls of Lana trail, which leads to a series of cascading falls; Rattlesnake Point, which has breeding peregrine falcons and panoramic views of Lake Dunmore; and Silver Lake, a hike to a small, scenic mountain lake.
Read more about hiking in the Green Mountain National Forest.
See general description of this park.
44 Knight Point Road North Hero, VT, 05474 Phone: 802-372-8389
Easy walk; one mile; good for kids
The Lake Champlain Islands are the closest image of Heaven you are likely to find anywhere. Twisty roads through rural areas and small towns offer beautiful views of the lake and distant mountain tops on all sides.
One of the tours passes the Bennington Monument, The Catamount Tavern, the Old Academy, the Village Lion, the Walloomsac Inn, the Old First Church, and the Bennington Museum. The other tour, through downtown, passes St. Francis De Sales Church, the Putnam House, Bennington County Courthouse, the Old Blacksmith's Shop, the Old Stone Mill, Bennington Potter's Yard, the Blue Benn Diner and the Henry Bradford Mill.
Molly Stark State Park, 705 Vermont 9 Wilmington, VT, 05363 Phone: 802-464-5460
One easy and more moderate walk, 0.20 to 1.70 miles; easy walk is good for kids
From the park entrance, follow signs to the easy and kid-friendly Nature Center Spur Trail for a 20-minute walk of 0.20 mile or the moderate-rated Mount Olga Trail walk, which is 1.70 miles and 1.5 hours of walking, to a fire tower.
34 Gifford Woods Road Killington, VT, 05751 Phone: 888-409-7579
Good for hiking; access to Appalachian Trail; pets permitted, but not in cabins
See full description of Gifford Woods Park.
More about the Appalachian Trail in Vermont
3270 Route 315 Rupert, VT, 05768 Phone: 802-394-7836
Many trails range from easy to difficult; something for every walker and hiker
Mount Antone Trail to the tallest mountain on the property at 2,600 feet. It offers the most spectacular vista at Merck—well worth the 5-mile round trip hike which takes about 3-3½ hours round trip.
Gallop Peak Trail summit provides beautiful views of the Taconic Mountains and beyond, especially in the winter. The hike to the top will take about 2½-3 hours round trip, about 3 miles total.
Wildlife Trail offers interpretive signs discussing forestry management practices and their effects on area wildlife.
McCormick Trail splits off of Old Town road up to Clarks Clearing, eventually connecting with Antone Road. It is a narrow trail and it is quite steep in portions. There are spectacular old red oak trees and wonderful winter views to the northwest.
Discovery Trail is a short trail starting at the Visitor Center parking lot and looping downhill then up to the farm.
Burke Trailgoes through mature, open woodland on a north facing slope. It gets little use in the summer, but is a popular for cross country skiers. Hiking the Burke Trail takes from 20 to 30 minutes.
22 Cedar Mountain Road Castleton, VT, 05743 Phone: 802-265-4242
Selection of moderate and easy trails, 0.75 to 1.5 miles; good walk for kids
Trails include the Bomoseen Hiking Loop of 1.5 miles and the Glen lake Trail of 4.5 miles, both of moderate difficulty; and the Slate History Trail and the Daniel Coffey Memorial Trail, both 0.75 miles and rated easy.
1621 Black Pond Road Fair Haven, VT, 05743 Phone: 802-273-2848
Family and kid-friendly camping park has lots of trails; good trail map
Waterbury Center State Park, 177 Reservoir Road Waterbury Center, VT, 05677 Phone: 802-244-1226
Nature walk of .05 mile; easy; good for kids
284 Allis State Park Road Brookfield, VT, 05060 Phone: 802-276-3175
Rustic camping, picnicking, hiking; free day use; pets allowed
An interested Nature Trail, accompanied by a detailed online guide, describes trees and other plants, wildlife, and some relics of a long-gone farm site. And there is a bear den.
See full description of Allis State Park.
352 Mountain Road Underhill, VT, 05490 Phone: 802-899-3022
Trails are moderate to difficult, to the summit of Mount Mansfield; not for kids; entrance road does not accommodate RVs, trailers, large buses
Vermont’s Long Trail crosses the summit ridge and provides many hiking loops on both slopes of the mountain. The ridgeline is above tree line, and plants in this area are of the alpine tundra varieties. The ridge offers views as distant as Lake Champlain and the Adirondack Mountains of New York.
Hiking information and trail maps are available at the park headquarters. See general description of this park.