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8 favorite foliage hikes in Vermont

Sunrise overlooking the lake with low fog on the surface. Autumn leaves have begun to change in Vermont

Vermont is a hiker’s heaven. With hundreds of trails strewn about the Green Mountain State, no matter what township you’re in, there’s a nearby path to lead you to peaks with breathtaking views, waterfalls, brooks, rivers, and covered bridges.

As we head into November and the New England foliage season is past its peak, I’ve rounded up some hiking routes for the most breathtaking autumn views in the great state of Vermont. Because really, it’s never too early to begin planning for next year’s fall foliage season.

When is the best time of year to peep the Vermont autumn colors?

The leaves begin changing in late September with autumn colors peaking around mid-October in most regions. Generally, mountain ranges will have colors changing sooner at higher elevations than the valleys.

If you have the time and are in the area for foliage season, plan to tackle the trails in the northern part of Vermont earlier in the season. Save hikes for the southern half of Vermont for mid-late October.

Vermont’s website has a foliage tracker to aid with your planning and serves the spontaneous weekend hiker well. Just remember that other leaf peepers are probably tracking the colors as well.

Below we have eight of our favorite Vermont hikes for viewing the autumn leaves on full display.

Best Vermont hikes for beginners

It’s not totally necessary to sweat for the fall color views, and maybe you’re just looking for a more relaxed experience. So, here are some hikes that are rated “easy” for effort, but still deliver the goods when it comes to Vermont foliage trails.

Waterfall in Vermont with leaves changing in autumn.

Camel’s Hump View Trail

This pretty little gravel loop in Duxbury, VT, is less than a mile long and has only 130 feet of elevation and its views of Camel’s Hump Peak are gorgeous during peak foliage season. Perhaps so enticing, you’ll be ready to lace up your hiking boots and take on the more challenging, but so-worth-it Camel’s Hump Trail. (See trails for ambitious hikers below).

Camel’s Hump View Trail Directions

Hamilton Falls Trail

Located in the town of Jamaica, Vermont, this easy-to-moderate trail is super popular— and for good reason. It’s a low elevation-gain route along the Cobb Brook and old railway, arriving at the charming Hamilton Falls a few miles and minimal elevation gain away. This six-mile round-trip hike is an easy favorite for the avid leaf-peeper, so you can expect to share the trail with others heading to the falls. Not up for a hike? There is limited parking available at the falls themselves.

Hamilton Falls Trail Directions

Thundering Brook Falls

This cute little “hike” in Killington, Vermont is a popular one if you’re looking for a picturesque autumn nature walk to the waterfalls. The well-maintained boardwalk trail is easy to access from River Road and is also linked to the Appalachian Trail for those wanting to venture a little further.

Thundering Brook Falls Directions

Journey’s End Trail

This 3-mile out-and-back hike is best in the early foliage season and takes hikers from North Troy, Vermont to the Canadian Border. Take the Journey’s End trail for a quick day hike from North Troy and snap some pics of the Canadian Border monument in the foreground with some fiery foliage in the background.

Journey’s End Trail Parking

Best Vermont foliage-peeping trails for ambitious hikers

These trails bring it all— more than adequate step counts, elevation gain, rocky scramble trail, and sublime summit vistas. These moderate-difficult foliage hikes are sure to challenge (and reward) even the more conditioned hikers.

Camel’s Hump Trail:

Arguably some of the most beautiful views once you’ve arrived at “the hump,” (read: summit) but also one of the most hard-earned. With a distance of over 6 miles, out-and-back, and over 3,000ft of elevation gain, Camel’s Hump Trail is not for the faint of heart.

It has a few narrow sections where you have to “scramble” on rocky trails, but oh man, are the views at the top worth it! Check out the autumn hues from the top of Camel’s Hump out as far as Killington Peak, Mount Washington to the east, and Mount Mansfield.

Camel’s Hump Trail Directions

Mount Mansfield Loop Trail

The Mount Mansfield Loop Trail is a doozy of a hike, but its summit views are simply enchanting. What else could you expect from the highest mountain in the state? Located in the Green Mountain range, this trail takes you up, up, above the treeline to display the stunning canvas of maple and oak trees turning below. Beginning from the Civilian Conservation Corps Road at the Underhill State Park, take the route counterclockwise (trust us on this one) along the Maple Ridge Trail to Long Trail and later to the Sunset Ridge Trail. There are a couple of technical sections where some tolerable leaping and climbing are necessary, but when there’s a will there’s a way! And the views of Lake Champlain and the surrounding mountains from the top? Worth it.

Mount Mansfield Loop Trail Directions

View from the peak of Mount Mansfield overlooking the Green Mountains in Vermont

Jay Peak Trail via Long Trail