The Best Vermont Towns to Visit This Fall
September 30, 2020
Fall in Vermont is all about hiking, scenic drives, apple picking, and exploring small towns.
You can’t go wrong wherever you are in Vermont this fall. The leaves are changing color across the state and there’s beauty to be seen in every direction.
Cold weather in September—and a couple of hard frosts—seems to have accelerated the leaf color change in some areas. Places like the Northeast Kingdom, Stowe, and Killington are already showing peak color. Even so, there’s still plenty of fall foliage to be enjoyed in small towns across Vermont.
The Best Vermont Towns to Visit This Fall
Craftsbury and Greensboro
In the heart of Vermont’s Northeast Kingdom is the town of Craftsbury, where you’ll find the Craftsbury Outdoor Center, the Craftsbury General Store, and Craftsbury Common. Fall foliage typically gets a head start in the Northeast Kingdom compared to other parts of the state (especially this year), but you’ll still be able to enjoy nice fall colors in Craftsbury in early October. Not far from Craftsbury is the town of Greensboro, where you’ll find Willey’s General Store, the world-famous Hill Farmstead Brewery, and the Highland Center for the Arts.
Montgomery and Jay
Montgomery in northwestern Vermont is known for its six historic covered bridges. This small town is in Franklin County, an area of Vermont known for dairy farming. But Montgomery, located not far from Jay Peak Resort, has a mountain-town feel. Between Montgomery and Jay Peak in Orleans County is Route 242, one of the most beautiful scenic drives in Vermont.
A few miles from Montgomery’s Main Street is Hazen’s Notch, a scenic, dirt road mountain pass. About 10 miles of the Hazen’s Notch trail network are open for walking and hiking in the summer and fall. These trails are located at the High Ponds Farm, a privately owned nature preserve located in the Hazen’s Notch Area of Montgomery.
Peacham and Groton
Once you’ve visited the town of Peacham for the first time, you’ll want to return every fall. The village center showcases historic New England homes, mountain views, a classic white steepled church, and the Peacham Café.
To the south and west of Peacham is Groton State Forest, where you can find excellent hiking and paddling opportunities on 26,000 acres of state land spread out over several towns, including Peacham and Groton. Owls Head Mountain in Groton State Forest is an easy, rewarding hike—and perfect for kids—with gorgeous views from the top.
In the upper Connecticut River Valley is the town of Newbury. With a town green, historic homes, and the Newbury Village Store, Newbury is an ideal town to visit in the fall. Head outdoors to Tucker Mountain Town Forest, which includes trails for hiking, horseback riding, mountain biking, and more. The top of Tucker Mountain was cleared in 1808, creating a beautiful 360-degree view that’s hard to beat in the fall.
Stowe is a busy place during fall foliage season, but for good reason. Route 108—also known as the Notch—is a beautiful area for hiking and sight-seeing. The Notch is closed in the winter, and the road’s twists and turns make Route 108 an interesting drive through the mountains. You can hike up to Sterling Pond or hike around other trails off Route 108. Another option is to take a gondola ride at Stowe Mountain Resort to the top of Mount Mansfield, Vermont’s tallest peak. Stowe’s Main Street is lined with shops and places to eat, and Stowe Pinnacle is a popular, scenic hike that’s also a favorite among Vermonters.
Warren, Waitsfield and Fayston
Travel along Route 100 to the scenic Mad River Valley region. Warren is home to The Warren Store, The Pitcher Inn, and Sugarbush Resort. Fall foliage season is perfect if you’re mountain biking at Blueberry Lake, hiking around Lincoln Gap, or taking a scenic chairlift ride at Sugarbush. Mad River Glen in nearby Fayston also offers scenic chairlift rides, and the Appalachian Gap at the crest of Route 17 offers views and easy access to The Long Trail. In Waitsfield, visit shops and cafes on Bridge Street (where there is a one-lane covered bridge) or take a scenic drive along East Warren Road.
Ripton, Goshen, Salisbury
This part of Vermont is where you’ll find the 16,000-acre Moosalamoo National Recreation Area. It includes more than 70 miles of trails for hiking, biking, camping, and fishing. In Goshen, head over to the Blueberry Hill Outdoor Center (next to the Blueberry Hill Inn) for hiking, mountain biking, and trail running. In Ripton, stop by the Ripton Country Store or drive along Route 125, also known as Middlebury Gap. For mountain views, head over to Lake Dunmore in Salisbury, or take a hike up to Silver Lake.
Chittenden is tucked away in the Green Mountain National Forest and home to the Chittenden Reservoir, Lefferts Pond, and the Mountain Top Inn & Resort. Chittenden has a small population of about 1,260 residents. However, the size of the town is 74.2 square miles—or 46,000 acres—making it the largest town by area in Vermont. The Green Mountains run along the entire eastern half of the town, making it even more secluded and wild, which is perfect for fall foliage viewing and outdoor exploration.
Woodstock and Quechee
Woodstock is another popular town that lives up to the hype, especially in the fall. Stop by the historic Billings Farm & Museum, explore the Marsh-Billings-Rockefeller National Historic Park, or hike up Mount Tom for scenic views. Stroll through downtown Woodstock and visit the The Yankee Bookshop or the F.H. Gillingham and Sons general store. Grab a cocktail or dinner at the Woodstock Inn & Resort. A few miles away in nearby Quechee are Simon Pearce, the Vermont Institute for Natural Science, and Quechee Gorge.
Manchester and Peru
In southern Vermont, the town of Manchester never disappoints. Manchester is home to the Northshire Bookstore, Equinox Valley Nursery, Equinox Resort, and the Taconic Hotel. But the best of Manchester can be found outdoors at places like Equinox Pond and the Equinox Preserve, a protected area near the base of Mount Equinox with 11 miles of trails for walking, hiking, and mountain biking. Prospect Rock is another gorgeous hike with views of Manchester and the Taconic Mountains.
In nearby Peru, stop by Hapgood Pond in Peru, which is located on U.S. Forest Service land and is a nice spot to soak up the fall colors. Peru is also where you’ll find Bromley Mountain, J.J. Hapgood General Store, Main Street Makery, Bromley Market, and Seesaw’s Lodge.
Happy Vermont Podcast
In this episode, “The Prettiest Vermont Towns to Visit During Fall Foliage,” I highlight additional towns to visit this fall, as well as places to explore along the way.
You can find my podcast on Apple Podcasts, Spotify, Amazon Music, Google Podcasts, iHeartRadio, and Stitcher.
If you’re looking for suggestions on the best Vermont towns to visit in fall, please get in touch. You can send me an email at [email protected].