19 Best Outdoor Fall Activities in Vermont 2023
The arrival of crisp autumn air in the Green Mountain State makes it the perfect time to enjoy some of the best fall activities in Vermont.
As a resident of VT for more than a decade, this is my FAVORITE time of year here so I would love to share some great activities with you to help you plan a visit.
On a perfectly bright and sunny day October day with the cooler temperatures waking us up every morning, there is no better way to enjoy it than getting outside and taking it all in. Vermont fall is about as picturesque as it gets!
🍁 19 Best Outdoor Fall Activities in Vermont
From hiking and biking in the beautiful fall foliage to sampling local cider and donuts, there’s something for everyone. Heading to enjoy the best fall activities in Vermont can be a tradition for your family each year and one that will leave lasting memories.
This is a great list to use as a starting point and is focused on enjoying the outdoors as much as possible. It will hopefully inspire you to try something new!
Remember to pack your outer gear for any weather such as rain, snow, or wind especially when coming in the months of October or November. The snow can sneak up on us here in the Green Mountain State!
Here are some of the best fall activities in Vermont to consider:
1. Take a Hike
Vermont is dreamy for hiking, especially in the autumn months. There are endless hikes to enjoy all over the state that range from easy to strenuous the latter of which require endurance and stamina.
Be sure to pay attention to trail descriptions to decide if a hike is right for you.
It’s pretty well known by Vermonters that if a trail is labeled as anything other than EASY, this means there is a certain level of scrambling and sometimes literally climbing with all fours to get up the final part of a trail before reaching the summit!
That being said there is not one trail our family has hiked that is labeled hard that our kids have not made it up and they are right there along with other energetic children. Hiking snacks are essential for success!
Kids are typically eager to scramble up rocks by age 3 or 4, in my personal experience. We all know our children best so make a wise decision for your own family. Otherwise, carry your toddler in a pack that is comfortable for long hikes.
Some favorite Vermont fall hikes include:
🥾 Mount Abraham via the Long Trail, near Warren and Bristol, VT
This is a personal favorite hike that I have been enjoying since one of my children was an infant and the other was four. It’s a fantastic climb up to the views with plenty of fun scrambling at the top to access the summit.
ACCESS: Lincoln Gap Rd. Please note this road closes seasonally from mid-October through mid-May due to winter weather conditions.
- Length: 5.1 miles
- Elevation Gain: 1,765 ft
- Difficulty: Moderate to Strenuous
- Average Time: 3 hours 15 min
🥾 Sterling Pond Trail, Smuggler’s Notch, Stowe, VT
Are you looking for a trail with an exciting reward at the top for your little ones? This hike is shorter and doable for active 3-year-olds and older. I have never hiked this without experiencing a good amount of wet rocks on the trail and they are quite slick and steep. Take caution, especially on the descent.
ACCESS: Please note that the road on Smugglers’ Notch Pass, VT 108, closes seasonally due to winter weather conditions, usually from mid-October through mid-May.
- Length: 2.3 miles
- Elevation Gain: 908 ft
- Difficulty: Moderate
- Average Time: 1 hour 45 minutes
🥾 Lake Elmore Fire Tower Trail, Elmore, VT
Located near Lake Elmore, Vermont, this hike includes the bonus of hiking to and climbing up a fire tower, built in 1939, that is listed on the National Historic Lookout Registry Kids also enjoy this hike, as long as no one is afraid of heights. It’s also a shorter trek and has epic views.
The Fire Tower Trail and Ridge Trail loop leaves from the parking lot and heads southeast up Elmore Mountain.
- Length: 5.1 mi
- Elevation Gain: 1,466 ft
- Difficulty: Moderate
- Average Time: 3 hours
🥾 Nebraska Notch, Stowe, VT
The trailhead is reached by driving down Nebraska Valley Rd where eventually you see the sign for Mansfield trout club (private), keep going past it (straight) and you will find the parking lot just a few minutes further.
Nebraska Notch is an easier but steady climb. This is a great trail to enjoy in the late fall season even when all the trees have gone bare. Partway up the trail a beaver pond will be seen. It’s a great spot to observe nature and is quite scenic.
- Length: 3.2 mi
- Elevation Gain: 780 ft
- Difficulty: Moderate
- Average Time: 1 hour 45 minutes
2. Enjoy the Thrill of a Zip Line Adventure
If you’re looking for an adrenaline rush, zip line adventures can be found at a number of locations in the state but the Killington Adventure Center is one of the most popular places to go.
The zip line flies over the beautiful onsite bridge and pond! Please note the 100-pound weight minimum for participation in the zip line at Killington.
3. Paddle on a Beautiful Lake
It goes without saying that anywhere you go on the water during fall foliage season is going to amplify your experience of the gorgeous colors with all the reflections which are almost too beautiful to capture in a photograph.
Strap your canoe, kayak, or paddleboard to your roof and head to the best lakes in Vermont to explore a few serene bodies of water during autumn. Here are a few favorites that I recommend:
- Green River Reservoir, Hyde Park, VT
- Waterbury Reservoir, Waterbury, VT
- Blueberry Lake, Warren, VT
- Lake Willoughby, Barton, VT
- Lake Morey, Fairlee, VT
- Emerald Lake, Dorset, VT
4. Go on a Covered Bridge Drive
There are over 100 covered bridges in the state of Vermont! It’s a great excuse for a leisurely fall foliage drive.
As the leaves turn, these historic structures take on a new beauty, and they provide a wonderful opportunity to slow down and appreciate the simple things in life.
Many of these bridges were built in the 19th century and they have been vital links in the state’s transportation network. Today, they are popular tourist attractions, and they offer a glimpse into Vermont’s rich history.
Map your route using this list of covered bridges in Vermont and go explore some new areas.
These bridges are a staple of Vermont’s landscape, and exploring them is a must for any visitor to the state. While some bridges are only open to pedestrians, others are still used for vehicular traffic and provide a picturesque way to cross one of Vermont’s many rivers.
5. Pick Apples at an Orchard
Apple picking can be a wonderful tradition for families to participate in each fall. It’s super fun to follow news from orchards to see what varieties are ready at certain times of the month. Will you pick the bright red Sweet Sixteens for fresh eating or the bright yellow Ginger Golds for pie?
Include an orchard stop on your way to your destination in Vermont and pick a bushel to bring home! Apples are the favorite fruit to preserve for winter enjoyment plus they keep well, so in my opinion, you can’t pick too many!
Many orchards have a lovely farm stand as well where you can pick up some pumpkins, fresh apple cider, hot donuts, and pie filling to bring home. Some popular orchards in Vermont are:
- Champlain Orchards, Shoreham
- Burtt’s Apple Orchard, Cabot
- Shelburne Orchards, Shelburne
- Mad Tom Orchard, East Dorset, VT
- Scott Farm Orchard, Dummerston
6. Grab Some Cider Donuts and Hot Apple Cider
Don’t visit Vermont in the fall without sampling some delicious cider donuts! They are ubiquitous so you can use that as an excuse to try them in practically every town you visit! Why not?
Here, in Central Vermont, Cold Hollow Cider Mill is a popular bustling place in the autumn months, but also year-round. You can grab the most delicious hot fresh donuts, plain or dusted with cinnamon and sugar, alongside your hot cider!
The store is full of fun gifts to bring home to friends and family as well. Right in front of the Cider Mill is also a hard cider tasting room which is a wonderful place to grab a flight of their offerings from the rustic bar or enjoy a hearty lunch at the Luncheonette.
7. Visit a Local Farm Stand or Farmer’s Market
Drive along on any main road in Vermont for long enough and you will see signs directing you to a farm stand. Definitely make a stop! You can pick up all kinds of winter squash, late-season tomatoes, hardy greens and so much more.
This time of year farm stands are rich with produce, canned goods, and fresh offerings. Some have special activities for the whole family. Hartshorn’s Organic Farm Stand in Waitsfield takes kids on a ride around the farm on their cow train but it is only available on certain days.
8. Attend a Harvest Festival
One of the best family-friendly things during fall in Vermont is the harvest festivals celebrating this season of gathering!
From mid-September to early October, communities all over the state come together to celebrate this time of year with food, music, hay rides, pumpkin games, and fun.
Harvest festivals are the perfect place to sample fresh cider, apple and pumpkin pies, and other fall treats! Check out these popular festivals:
- Billings Farm & Museum Harvest Celebration, Woodstock
- Burke Fall Festival, East Burke
- 19th Century Apple & Cheese Harvest Festival, Strafford
- Bristol Harvest Festival, Bristol
- Dummerston Apple Pie Festival, Dummerston
9. Go to a Pumpkin Patch
If you’re looking for a fall fun family activity, a pumpkin patch is definitely the place to be. There are plenty of patches located throughout Vermont, and most of them have other fall-themed activities such as tractor-drawn hayrides!
Most pumpkin patches and corn mazes usually open by mid-September, some earlier! You’ll be sure to find your perfect pumpkins for carving and baking while there.
🎃 Isham Family Farm
Location: Williston, VT
Information: During the weekdays wheelbarrows are provided for transporting pumpkins from the patch after picking. On the weekends the tractor rides will bring visitors to the patch where they can pick and cut their own pumpkins.
🎃 Equinox Valley Nursery
Location: Manchester, VT
Information: This pumpkin patch is decorated with whimsical scarecrows and other autumn decorations. You can call ahead to schedule an appointment for a scenic tractor ride with amazing views: (802) 362-2610
🎃 Whitcomb’s Land of Pumpkins and Corn Maze
Location: Williston, VT
Information: A very well-known location, Whitcomb’s has 6 acres of pumpkins, gourds, cornstalks, fall squash, and specialty pumpkins! They also have an incredible 4- acre corn maze with 12′ tall corn, it’s really something.
10. Go Car Camping
From lean-tos and pitch-your-own-tent sites to yurts and RV hookup campgrounds with laundry facilities, Vermont offers every level of camping comfort imaginable!
It is full of beautiful State Parks to enjoy and they are a great way to enjoy camping in some of the most scenic locations! Be advised, after October 14, most state parks officially close across the state of Vermont.
Here are some highly recommended spots to head camping in the fall:
- Mount Ascutney State Park, near Windsor
- Little River State Park, Waterbury
- Smugglers’ Notch State Park, near Stowe
- Merck Forest and Farmland Center, Rupert
- Quechee State Park, Quechee
- Brighton State Park, Island Pond
11. Take a Gondola Ride up Mount Mansfield
Taking a gondola ride up Mount Mansfield is the perfect way to explore the fall foliage in Stowe. As you ride up the mountain, you’ll get sweeping views of the colorful trees and rolling hills. The gondola is equipped with large windows, so you can take in the scenery from every angle.
The gondola takes you to the summit of the mountain, providing stunning views of the surrounding area. You can also explore trails, some very challenging, to the summit which has a variety of lookout points.
Dress warmly when heading to the top! Bring a winter hat, gloves, and a puffy coat because this time of the year the summit can be wintery.
You can even enjoy a snack at the Waffle Hut or enjoy lunch at the Cliff House. Be sure to make reservations in advance!
12. Attend a Brew Festival
There are a number of popular fall festivals for beer lovers in Vermont. Check out this list and make a plan based on when the festival happens.
- SIPtemberfest, Mad River Glen in Fayston
- Oktoberfest, Trapp Family Lodge, Stowe
- Mount Snow Oktoberfest – West Dover
- Oktoberfest Vermont, Burlington
- Harpoon Oktoberfest Vermont, Windsor
- Fresh Hops Festival, Warren
Another idea is to go on a brewery tour and sample beer from some of Vermont’s many craft breweries. Popular ones include Hill Farmstead Brewery, The Alchemist Brewery, or Lawson’s Finest Liquids Brewery.
If you would like to stay in Burlington and explore the plentiful breweries there, book a tour to take make it easier!
🍻 Book Your Sip of Burlington Guided Brewery Tour HERE 🍺
13. Head on Rt 100 for a Scenic Drive
If you’re looking to explore one of America’s most scenic drives, you can’t go wrong with Vermont’s historic Rt 100! This winding road takes you through some of the most beautiful foliage in the Northeast. It’s the perfect way to see Vermont’s fall colors up close.
Along the way, you’ll also have the opportunity to explore quaint towns and villages, covered bridges, and waterfalls, and sample some of the best food and drink that Vermont has to offer. Rt. 100 is a real treat for the senses!
14. Challenge Yourself in a Corn Maze
Winding through acres of tall stalks, a corn maze can be both challenging and fun. When you finally make it to the center of the maze, you’re rewarded with a stunning view of the Vermont landscape.
There are plenty of corn mazes to choose from across the state, so you’re sure to find one that’s perfect for you. A corn maze is the perfect way to get lost in the autumn beauty of Vermont.
- The Great Vermont Corn Maze, Danville
- Sam Mazza’s Corn Maze, Colchester
- Percy Farm Corn Maze, Stowe
- Whitcomb’s Land of Pumpkins and Corn Maze, Williston
- Hathaway Farm Corn Maze, Rutland
There’s nothing quite like getting lost in a labyrinth of corn stalks, only to find your way out with the help of some fellow maze-goers. Bring your friends and family and head into a corn maze!
15. Bike the Causeway on Lake Champlain
Biking on the Colchester Causeway is an unforgettable experience that is not to be missed. The 3.25-mile Causeway is a 10-foot wide gravel path extending across Lake Champlain.
The causeway itself is a fascinating piece of history. It’s an old rail bed that was built in 1829 to connect the towns of Colchester and Milton and after many years was converted to form the Burlington Bike Path. It has been used by pedestrians and cyclists ever since.
The path is surrounded by foliage in the distance and has stunning views of the Adirondack Mountains. Grab your bike and a helmet and go for a ride. Keep your eyes peeled for eagles and ospreys!
16. Take a Scenic Cruise in Burlington
Taking a scenic cruise with Spirit of Ethan Allen in Burlington is the perfect way to enjoy the fall weather. As the leaves begin to change color and the air gets cooler, there’s no better way to spend an afternoon than cruising down Lake Champlain. Remember to bundle up! It can very breezy and cold despite the sunshine.
On your journey, you’ll take in stunning views of the Adirondack Mountains, as well as get a close-up look at some of Burlington’s most iconic landmarks. Best of all, you can relax and enjoy the scenery without having to worry about traffic or directions.
17. Stay at a Cozy Cabin or a Bed and Breakfast
A relaxing fall weekend getaway in Vermont sounds dreamy, doesn’t it? There is a giant list of cabins, inns, and bed and breakfast options to stay at in the Green Mountain State but I will list a few very special locations to consider.
🍂 Featherbed Inn
This is an 1806 B&B farmhouse located in the heart of the Mad River Valley. The Inn boasts spectacular grounds, incredibly kind and helpful hosts, and is the perfect mix of antique charm and modern amenities.
🍂Woodstock Inn & Resort
There couldn’t be a more charming town to stay in Vermont for fall foliage and if you choose this destination, the Woodstock Inn completes your quintessential fall getaway with a luxurious touch.
You’ll enjoy walking to the wonderful town stores as the location is right across from the town green.
🍂 Historic Renovated Barn at Boorn Brook Farm
This is the perfect place to enjoy a Vermont country experience in an authentic, old building that has been refurbished and is clean and comfortable. This serene and peaceful location is located in Manchester, Vermont.
It’s only a 5-minute drive to Manchester center. Guests can enjoy the pond, and walking trails and bring their dogs along to enjoy the property!
🍂 Green Mountain Inn
Nestled into the heart of Stowe this is a beautifully restored historic Inn that makes walking on foot in town a cinch. If you plan to do most of your activities in the Stowe area this one is the perfect choice if you like a more bustling location, keep in mind street noise if you are a country-dweller.
18. Go for a Horse Drawn Carriage Ride
There’s something unique about taking a horse-drawn carriage ride through the foliage in Stowe, VT. It’s just not something you can do anywhere! The Gentle Giants Horse-Drawn carriage is a part of the unique experience that Stowe has to offer.
You’ll have plenty of opportunities to take photos, enjoy the scenery and breathe in the crisp autumn air. At the end of the ride, you’ll be left with lasting memories of this special place.
19. Attend a Classic Vermont Fair
The Tunbridge Fair in Tunbridge, VT always takes place in mid-September. Vermonters have been enjoying this fair since 1867! Besides the ubiquitous fair rides, there are a ton of activities and yummy food to enjoy.
It is a wonderful small fair to visit Be sure to go to Antique Hill complete with historical displays of life and activities long ago such as 1920s farm equipment, a log cabin museum, cider pressing, letterpress printing, an old schoolhouse, and much more.
🍃 What is the best time to visit for fall activities in Vermont?
Mid-September and mid-October is the prime fall season in Vermont. The sweet spot for epic color is typically the first week of October but it changes yearly based on weather patterns.
If you are coming to Vermont for a specific event your trip may of course be guided by the dates for that activity. Check websites often for updates on those activities!
Since moving to Vermont ten years ago I have noticed peak fall foliage can be anywhere from the last week of September to the end of the first week in October.
Usually by Halloween or on that day of tricks and treats we see the start of cold, damp weather and maybe even the first snowfall. Snow does come earlier than that sometimes and people may grumble!
However, a dusting of snow is honestly so lovely mixed with the color of the fall leaves. It’s just reality that snow can be a part of fall activities in Vermont.
🍂 The Wrap Up: Fall Activities in Vermont
With its picturesque setting and an endless supply of activities, Vermont is the perfect destination for a fall getaway. From apple picking and leaf peeping to hiking and biking, there’s something for everyone to enjoy.
The leaves are changing color, the air is crisp and there are plenty of activities to enjoy. So whether you’re looking for a relaxing weekend away or an adventure-filled vacation, be sure to add Vermont to your list of must-visit destinations this fall.