One of the best ways to appreciate autumn in Vermont is to fully immerse yourself in nature– or, in other words, take a hike! As the fall foliage season approaches, we’ve decided to compile a list of ten of the best hikes in southern Vermont so that you and your family can make the most of your trip together.
1. Equinox Mountain, Manchester, VT — All levels of difficulty
Equinox Mountain (or Mount Equinox) is the second highest mountain in southern Vermont, and is the highest peak of the Taconic Range at 3,840+ ft. in elevation. Manchester sits in the valley on the east side, and there are plentiful hikes to do both around the base of the mountain as well as up it. Trips to and around Equinox Pond at the base of the mountain are excellent for beginners and hikers of all levels, and offer stunning views of the mountain from its base. Further up are Robin’s Lookout, an intermediate hike that goes part way up the mountain, as well as a more difficult hike up to the mountain’s summit– about 5.4 miles round trip. Both offer gorgeous views of Manchester and the valley below.
2. Lye Brook Falls, Manchester, VT — Beginner
This easy hike of about 4.6 miles round trip ends at a cascading 125 ft. waterfall– one of the highest in Vermont. The trail is built upon old logging roads and railroad grades, and follows a steady incline. One may have to cross the occasional stream on the way up, so the appropriate footwear is highly recommended.
3. Prospect Rock, Manchester, VT — Intermediate
Although steep at points, this 3.6 mile round trip hike is definitely worth the view. At the top, where the “Prospect Rock” is located, one can look out onto the town of Manchester in the valley as well as Equinox Mountain to the west, making this a beautiful spot for a sunset hike. One can also drive up to the top (4 wheel drive recommended!) In the winter, this hike is a popular spot for snowmobiling as well.
4. Bromley Mountain, Peru, VT— Intermediate
In the summer and fall, when it is not an active ski resort, this 5.2 mile round trip hike offers gorgeous views of the surrounding mountains in all directions. To the north, one can see Killington and Okemo; to the south, Stratton; to the east, Magic and on a clear day, even New Hampshire; and to the west, Equinox and Mount Aeolus.
5. Stratton Mountain, Bondville, VT — Intermediate
Like Bromley Mountain to the north, Stratton Mountain doubles as a ski resort in the winter. Parts of the hike are steep, although worth it to see the views from the summit and the firetower. The hike itself is 7.6 miles round trip, although one can also stop by Stratton Pond on the way back down for a bit of added mileage.
6. Baker Peak, Mt. Tabor, VT — Beginner/Intermediate
This 5.6 mile round trip hike follows a gentle incline to its peak. At the summit, one can see Dorset Peak in close proximity to the southwest. A word of caution: if raining, be careful at the peak, for the rock becomes rather slippery. For a bit of extra scenery and mileage, Griffith Lake is also accessible from the trail.
7. Little Rock Pond, Mt. Tabor, VT — Beginner
An easy hike, being only about 4.0 miles round trip, this trail leads to a small pond with beautiful views. One of the most hiked trails in southern Vermont, this trail is perfect for a walk with the family
8. Haystack Mountain, Pawlet, VT — Intermediate
Although steep towards the top, the view at the summit of Haystack Mountain is completely worth the extra bit of effort. Most of the trail follows a steady incline upwards through the forest to stunning views of picturesque Pawlet and the Taconic Range. Only about 3.0 miles roundtrip, this hike is perfect for families who want a bit more of a challenge.
9. Merck Forest and Antone Mountain, Rupert, VT — Beginner and Intermediate
Merck Forest is the perfect place to take a walk with little kids! This lovely spot is home to a little farm in the hills of Rupert as well as plentiful trails for walking, snowshoeing, and cross country skiing. For a more scenic look at the Adirondacks, as well as a longer hike of about 5.0 miles round trip, head up to Mount Antone. Access to this hike from the farm is easy, as it follows old roads out across the preserve. Maps and more trail information are available at the nature center at the front gate.
10. Bald Mountain “White Rocks”, Bennington and Woodford, VT — Intermediate
This hike is accessible from two sides– one from Bennington and the other from Woodford. From the Bennington side, this hike is about 8.0 miles round trip, which is longer than the Woodford counterpart of about 4.0 miles round trip. Just before the top are the “white rocks” the mountain earns its nickname from, at at the top are sweeping views of the town of Bennington, Mount Anthony, and New York.
Whatever path you choose for your next Vermont adventure, we wish you luck and hope you enjoy the fall foliage while it lasts!
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