Where to Go and Things to Do in the Green Mountain National Forest
October 07, 2021
It’s hard to imagine Vermont without the Green Mountain National Forest. Exploring sections of the forest’s 400,000-acres is a must for anyone who loves the outdoors. If you’re interested in finding things to do in the Green Mountain National Forest, options include hiking, paddling, fishing, camping, hunting, wildlife viewing, snowshoeing, and more.
Hundreds of miles of Green Mountain National Forest roads also allow an opportunity for Vermont scenic drives and quiet walks.
Established in 1932 in response to the environmental damage caused by a century of unregulated logging, the forest now features more than 2,000 archaeological and historic sites spanning the history of Vermont. These include Native American sites, the remains of colonial-era farmsteads, and roads built by the Civilian Conservation Corps in the 1930s.
Unlike the Long Trail, which runs the entire length of the state, the Green Mountain National Forest only extends from the Massachusetts border up to Warren in central Vermont. Federal forestland is in more than a dozen Vermont towns, including Stamford, Woodford, Glastenbury, Stratton, Peru, Wallingford, Chittenden, Ripton, Goshen, Rochester, and Lincoln.
Things to Do in the Green Mountain National Forest
Exploring the Green Mountain National Forest isn’t just about hiking rugged mountain peaks or camping in the remote wilderness. Plenty of areas in the forest are easily accessible for walking, wildlife viewing, paddling, or scenic drives.
A Vermont Scenic Forest Drive on Kelley Stand Road
Kelley Stand Road—also called the Stratton-Arlington Road—extends between East Arlington and West Wardsboro. The scenic drive runs along the Roaring Branch brook from the west and crosses into the Green Mountain National Forest. You’ll find many opportunities for hiking, fishing, and scenic viewing at places such as Grout Pond and Somerset Reservoir.
A point of interest along Kelley Stand Road is a historic marker that stands where Daniel Webster gave his famous Kelley Stand speech in July 1840, when he addressed 15,000 people.
Getting there: The road, closed in winter, is accessible from Kansas Road in East Arlington or the Stratton-Arlington Road in West Wardsboro.
Swimming, Wooded Trails and Camping at Hapgood Pond in Peru
Hapgood Pond Recreation Area in Peru is part of the earliest section of land that became the Green Mountain National Forest. After 1,842 acres were donated in the 1930s to the forest service by Marshel Hapgood in Peru, the Civilian Conservation Corps created a 10-acre, man-made pond in his name to replace a small millpond on the site.
An existing 19th-century logging village was torn down, and a bathhouse and picnic facilities were built at Hapgood Pond in the mid-1930s. The area now includes a one-mile nature trail, camp sites, picnic tables, and the pond for swimming.
Getting there: From Route 11, turn onto Main Street in Peru. At the intersection by the church, bear left. Hapgood Pond is located off Hapgood Pond Road in Peru.
Trek to Vermont’s Little Rock Pond near Mount Tabor
Off Green Mountain Forest Road 10—also called the Danby-Mount Tabor Road—is a popular but rewarding hike to Little Rock Pond. The four-mile round-trip hike, which takes about two hours, doesn’t gain much elevation as it leads to a pond surrounded by hills and large boulders. It’s a favorite scenic spot for fishing, camping, and swimming in the warmer months. Shelters and tent platforms are available on a first-come, first-served basis near the pond in the summer and fall. For a scenic drive, stay on Forest Road 10 until Landgrove and enjoy a gorgeous journey through the Green Mountains.
Getting there: The road, closed in winter, can be accessed from Route 7 in Danby. Turn east onto Brooklyn Road and travel for 3.5 miles to the Appalachian/Long Trail crossing for parking and access.
Soak up Forest Views at Lefferts Pond Area in Chittenden
Outside of Killington, the rural town of Chittenden is the largest town by area (46,000 acres) in Vermont. The Green Mountains run along the entire eastern half of the town, giving it a wild, secluded feel. Lefferts Pond is a scenic spot for mountain biking, wildlife viewing, horseback riding, and easy hiking. Lefferts Pond, also open for boating and fishing, encompasses 55 acres and is about 12 feet deep.
Getting there: From Route 7, take a right on East Pittsford Road, which becomes Chittenden Road after about three miles. Continue for 2.7 miles on Chittenden Road to a three-way junction. Bear right onto Dam Road, follow for 1.3 miles, and turn right onto Wildcat Road (unmarked).
Hike Mount Horrid Overlook and The Great Cliff near Brandon Gap
The Mount Horrid Overlook on Route 73 offers views of a beaver pond and the dramatic cliffs of Mount Horrid. The beaver pond is a beautiful place to search for moose and beaver, while the cliffs are home for nesting Peregrine falcons between March and August (watch for hiking trail closure signs during those months).
If you opt to hike up to the cliffs, the trailhead via the Long Trail is located farther west, just before the top of Brandon Gap. The trail, which takes about two hours round-trip, is steep. However, a stunning view from the top makes it a worthwhile trek.
Getting there: From Route 7 in Brandon, follow Route 73 for 7.5 miles. From Route 100 in Rochester, follow Route 73 for about 8.8 miles.
Bike or Hike Hogback Mountain Loop in Goshen
In the Moosalamoo National Recreation Area of the Green Mountain National Forest, the Hogback Mountain Loop is a three-mile relatively easy climb through the woods. The Moosalamoo National Recreation Area of the Green Mountain National Forest is a 16,000-acre section that extends from Ripton and Goshen to Lake Dunmore in Salisbury.
The area includes more than 70 miles of well-maintained trails that are perfect for hiking, biking, cross-country skiing, and snowshoeing. The region is also ideal for camping, swimming, boating, fishing, and birding. Many forest roads in the area make for a beautiful scenic drive or gravel bike ride. To get started, visit the Blueberry Hill Outdoor Center for trail information.
Getting there: The Blueberry Hill Outdoor Center is at 1245 Goshen Ripton Road in Goshen.
Take a Walk in the Green Mountain National Forest on the Robert Frost Interpretive Trail in Ripton
The small town of Ripton is where Robert Frost lived while teaching at the Middlebury Bread Loaf Campus. In 1920, Frost moved to Vermont and purchased the Homer Nobel Farm off Route 125 after his wife died. Now owned by Middlebury College, Homer Nobel Farm is includes a log cabin where Robert Frost spent summers for 24 years.
On the southern side of Route 125, not far from the farm, is the Robert Frost Interpretive Trail. The trail, which extends 1.2 miles in length, celebrates what inspired Frost as his poems are mounted on signs along the trail. The trail starts with a bridge across Beaver Pond and winds through the woods before crossing the South Branch of the Middlebury River into a more wooded area. The trail was upgraded in 2021 for 100 percent access for visitors with disabilities.
Getting there: From Route 7, take Route 125 east to Ripton for 5.8 miles. Parking for the Robert Frost Interpretive Trail is on the right.
Vermont Kayaking in Blueberry Lake in Warren
Blueberry Lake in Warren is surrounded by mountains and is an ideal spot for kayaking, canoeing, or soaking up the scenery.
Nearby are the Blueberry Lake Trails, a network managed by the forest service in partnership with the Mad River Riders, a local mountain biking chapter. The trails feature beginner, intermediate, and advanced terrain in one of the most beautiful parts of Vermont.
Getting there: From Main Street in Warren, head up Brook Road, turn right on Plunkton Road and take a left after Lois Lane.
For more information about the Green Mountain National Forest, visit www.fs.usda.gov/gmfl.
What are your favorite things to do in the Green Mountain National Forest?