As the site of picturesque hikes, epic ski hills and breathtaking vistas, Vermont is an ideal spot for enjoying nature. Touring this small state by car provides easy access to some of the country’s most rustic trails, waterfalls, lakes and mountains. Enjoy colorful foliage during the autumn months, fresh snow for winter skiing, cool swimming holes in the summer and the sweet symphony of bird song in the spring. Don’t miss these must-see natural attractions in Vermont.
Brattleboro Farmers Market
In southern Vermont, start your road trip right by picking up all sorts of treasures at Brattleboro Farmers Market. This great lunch spot is a quaint place honoring Vermont’s small farms. Local honey, flowers, vegetables, artisanal breads, maple syrup, cheeses, soaps and much more are available for sale by artists and farmers who happily share their knowledge of the area’s natural resources. Live music and dancers often add to the fun.
The market is open on Saturdays, 10 to 2 p.m., through October. In light of COVID-19, this year the market is offering a curbside pickup option.
Green Mountain National Forest
Driving west from Brattleboro, the sights are amazing in Green Mountain National Forest, Vermont’s only federally managed lands. The forest is home to the state’s section of the Appalachian Trail. Stop to do some exploring in Grout Pond Recreation Area, which consists of 1,600 forested acres popular for camping, fishing and canoeing. Open year-round, the 10 miles of flat trails are ideal for hiking and cross-country skiing at all levels. Alternatively, Bald Mountain Trail, originating from Bennington, is great for a three-hour round-trip excursion.
Driving north from the Green Mountains, be sure to stop in Ludlow, located just northeast of the forest. On a hot summer day, nothing beats the short hike to Buttermilk Falls. The 1.1-mile wooded trail leads to sparkling waterfalls and refreshing swimming holes that are perfect for families. Wade in the chilly waters of the upper, middle or lower falls. Look for cars parked along Buttermilk Falls Road off Route 103 to find the trailhead. Water shoes are recommended for safety.
Driving northeast from Ludlow takes you to a walkway along the iron bridge on Route 4 that grants you access to a breathtaking vista of the deepest gorge in the state. Formed by glaciers 13,000 years ago, Quechee Gorge is continually cut by the energy of the Ottauquechee River. A trail leads through the woods to the rim of the gorge for an up-close and personal view of the best of nature in Vermont.
Stowe Recreation Path
It’s a short drive up Interstate 89 to the foot of Mount Mansfield, Vermont’s highest peak. Stowe Recreation Path offers a low impact way to enjoy the beauty of the area. Rent a bike or take a stroll on the paved path to take in the vistas of Mount Mansfield, which offers some of the best all-level winter skiing and a challenging summer rock climb. With no motorized vehicles allowed, Stowe’s flat, 5.5-mile path meanders along beside streams and fields, making it a good place for a jog and family bike riding.
Head west toward Burlington to experience one of the best natural attractions in Vermont. On the border of Vermont and New York and reaching into Canada, Lake Champlain is a must-see natural attraction. Whether you’re into kayaking, ice fishing, or enjoying romantic dinners at lakefront restaurants, the 587 miles of shoreline are ideal for viewing more than 300 species of birds and other wildlife.
If you take a dip in the lake, be sure to look out for “Champy,” the 20-foot serpent monster that Samuel de Champlain, the lake’s namesake, claims to have seen in the lake. For an on-the-water search, take one of the area’s boat tours, such as the Spirit of Ethan Allen. For a sweet treat, drive over to Cold Hollow Cider Mill in Waterbury Center for a legendary cider donut.
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