Vermont’s guide to going out

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Vermont’s forested mountains, scenic farmlands, and laid-back vibe are all you need in an outdoor vacation destination. From year-round outdoor recreation, however you like to spend time outdoors, to a culture centered around active lifestyles, Vermont ticks all the boxes. And because Vermont offers such variety in such a compact area, it’s entirely possible to explore the entire state (crossing the sixth-smallest state from south to north takes about three hours). Whether you’re packing it all into one trip or planning multiple tours, here are our picks for the best ways to enjoy the outdoors in Vermont.

(Pictures: Gretchen Powers and Vermont Tourism)

go to the farm

Vermont is full of outdoor adventures beyond its public lands. Many private landowners and family farms welcome visitors year-round to responsibly recreate on their land.

summer adventures

Discover the trails on Shelburne Farms, in northwestern Vermont. The 1,400-acre working farm is a National Historic Site where you can trek through fields and forests to take in views of the Green Mountains and the iconic Camel’s Hump to the east, as well as Lake Champlain and the mountains Adirondack to the west. In southern Vermont, visit Hildene, a farm that once belonged to the Lincoln family. The property was purchased by Abraham Lincoln’s son, Robert Todd Lincoln, and lived in by his descendants until 1957. Today, guests can hike the grounds, explore the allotment gardens, and visit the goat farm and the solar-powered cheese factory.

For nighttime adventures, pitch a tent at a lavender farm in the Northeast Kingdom. Vermont Lavender Essentials invites tent campers and RVers to stay at campsites on the property. Reserve your spot through Harvest Host, Tentrr or Hipcamp. Or get a free campsite when you volunteer on the farm. While you’re in the field, hike the trails, soak up 360-degree views of the surrounding mountains, and make friends at the farm’s weekly Marshmallow Roast.

Point: Whether explore on two wheels is more your style, check out the Vermont Mountain Bike Association to learn more about ATV trails throughout the state.

winter leisure

We’re not kidding when we say year-round: Vermont has a Winter Farm Trail which maps 11 farms to visit on cross-country skis or snowshoes. In southern Vermont, private landowners, including Cedar Mountain Farm and the Cobb Hill Eco-village Cohousing, are volunteering to maintain the Hartland Winter Trails. The network of more than 12 miles of trails is open to cross-country skiers and snowshoers.

Sandiwood Farm, in the North East Kingdom, invites cross-country skiers, snowshoers and heavy bikers to the trails of its 80-acre farm. Venture into fields where organic produce, hemp and flowers grow in the summer. Then warm up by the fire before enjoying the sunset with a view of Mount Mansfield. The Sandiwood Farm trails also connect to the Lamoille Valley Four Season Rail Trail, one of 18 rail trail systems in Vermont. When complete, the Lamoille Valley Rail Trail will be the longest in New England at 93 miles.

We’re not kidding when we say year-round: Vermont has a Winter Farm Trail that maps 11 farms you can visit on cross-country skis or snowshoes. (Photo: Vermont Tourism)

greet the sun

Vermont is one of the most forested states in the country. For the best sunrise views, climb above the trees at a lookout point. Not a fan of pre-dawn hikes? Plan an overnight trip to camp or find a coveted spot in a trail shelter.

Explore the Northeast Kingdom

In the northeast kingdom, the fire lookout post atop Bald Mountain offers a high view of the vast forest and lakes below. The 4.2 mile trail begins at the Long Pond trailhead near Insta’s famous Lake Willoughby (known for its stunning fall colors and climbs to the summit). The historic cabin below the gazebo was restored in 2013 by volunteers who scoured building materials to the site and is open to campers on a first-come, first-served basis.

Hiking in Northwestern Vermont

In northwest Vermont, hike the Puffer Cabin Loop to the Puffer Shelter for the best views in the area. The 6.9 mile loop begins at the base of Bolton Valley Resort, the highest base lodge in the state at 2,100 feet. From the top of Bolton Mountain at approximately 3,650 feet, enjoy sweeping views of the surrounding forests. Hikers can spend the night in the rustic lean-to shelter, which can accommodate six people on a first-come, first-served basis. The Long Trail, Vermont’s classic hike, connects to the Puffer Cabin Loop, so the hut can get busy in the summer months.

person napping outdoors in Vermont
Vermont is one of the most forested states in the country. For the best views, walk above the trees. (Photo: Vermont Tourism)

Point: Fall can be a popular time as hikers congregate on trails with the best fall colors. Hiking at sunrise is a surefire way to find solitude, but you can also check out these local recommendations for alternative fall hikes which are equally spectacular.

Get out on the water

In the heat of summer, Vermonters punctuate their outdoor adventures with refreshing dips in swimming holes and time on the water in more than 800 lakes across the state. But the summer life of the Vermont lakes goes smoothly until the fall.

SUP-Yoga

Get out on the water with Killington Yoga in southern Vermont for downhill dogs on a paddleboard. Classes are offered weekly throughout the summer. In the fall, rent a board and enjoy your own float on the water. Whether you take a course or follow the self-guided route, be sure to take your paddleboard or kayak for a spin on the 100-acre Woodward Reservoir, surrounded by lush forest.

Fall colors by the water

In the fall, the 75 miles of tree-lined shores of Lake Memphremagog are a spectacular place to view the fall colors. Sail in international waters (the glacial lake straddles the border of Vermont and Quebec). Or stay closer to shore and paddle the south bay of the lake. By kayak or stand-up paddle, you can navigate the shallow waters of the bay and even poke around the Black River, which flows into the lake. This flatwater estuary is sheltered from the wind, so you’ll be able to enjoy time on the water even when the lake gets choppy.

three people paddle boarding in vermont
You don’t want to miss a chance to get your paddleboard out on the water in Vermont. (Photo: Vermont Tourism)

Thematic river excursions

Vermont Canoe and Kayak guide to excursions with unique themes on the Lamoille River. Pair a paddle with a lesson in all things maple: the 2.5-hour tour takes you to the Vermont Maple Outlet, where you’ll learn about the sugaring process and sample treats made on site. Families will love the ice cream float, which includes your choice of Ben & Jerry’s flavor to enjoy on the shore. Or combine another outdoor adventure with a paddle; Vermont Canoe & Kayak partners with other local guiding services to offer half-day or full-day river trips, including electric biking, rock climbing, and hiking.

Appreciate the outdoor art installations

Vermont is home to a strong arts and crafts scene – and since the state is such an amazing place to recreate outdoors, it’s no surprise that arts and outdoor recreation go hand in hand. here. Vermont is full of people outdoor art exhibitions in an eclectic mix of styles that can be enjoyed all year round.

Point: road trip Vermont’s Scenic Drivesand stop at sculpture gardens and murals that hold your attention.

Walk through the sculpture gardens

Rent a boat to float the Connecticut River to the Garden Life Path. The 14-acre riverside property features sculptures and botanical art, including a hedge maze. The garden has been an evolving installation since 1997 and is still designed and maintained by the original artist, Terry McDonnell, and his family. Shuttles are available to transport you about five miles upstream so you can enjoy a leisurely morning on the river before reaching the takeout at the Sculpture Garden.

In central Vermont, the town of Barre is known as the granite capital of the world. The town is home to Smith Quarry, the the largest working granite quarry in the world. With all this local stone, the artists have created an art scene that revolves around sculpture. Cruise through the city on the official, self-guided boat artistic walkwhich features 14 stone sculptures by local artists.

blacksmith career in vermont
Barre is home to Smith Quarry, the largest working granite quarry in the world. (Photo: Vermont Tourism)

Point: Hike, bike or ski the nearby Millstone Trails to admire the Smith Quarry and get a better sense of the true scale of this granite source.

Local art spent skiing

In winter, take a self-guided art tour on skis or snowshoes at Highland Arts Center outdoor gallery in Greensboro. The 1.8 mile winter trail begins at the center and passes through nearby Wilson Herb Farm. Along the way, you’ll pass a variety of installations all created by local Vermont artists.


Vermont’s ever-changing landscape draws outdoor enthusiasts year-round to a place that embraces the idea that life is better when we slow down, look around, and simply take notice. Vermont can inspire, restore and bring you to a whole new state. Sign up to receive the latest news from the Green Mountains.

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