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Staff Picks: 10 Best Hiking Trails in Vermont

Staff Picks: 10 Best Hiking Trails in Vermont

We consider ourselves a team of outdoor enthusiasts – enjoying activities from walking the area near our HQ, to hiking, biking, backcountry skiing, and more. With summer approaching, we’ve been chatting about our favorite hiking trails in our home state. Below are our top 10 best hiking trails in Vermont.

1. Sterling Pond Trail

Smugglers’ Notch State Park, Jeffersonville, VT - This 2.3 mile out-and-back trail in Smugglers’ Notch State Park ends at a beautiful pond with sweeping views of the mountains and the forest. It’s an incredibly popular hiking trail, so we suggest getting there early if you prefer a path less traveled. With 908 ft of elevation gain on varying terrain (rocky, steps, etc.) during the 1.15 miles to the pond, AllTrails rates this hike as moderate (and we agree!). Short, sweet, and worth it for the views, Sterling Pond is a tried-and-true VT classic, and great for families with little ones who might be new to hiking but are up for the challenge. At the top, you can decide to walk around the pond, or take a quick jaunt up to the top of Sterling Lift at Smugglers’ Notch Resort (where you are rewarded with more great views).

Sterling Pond Trail View

2. Mount Elmore

Elmore State Park, Elmore, VT - A loop trail that clocks in around 5.4 miles, this moderately challenging hike rewards you about halfway through with some incredible views of Lake Elmore and the surrounding mountains. Another popular hike, you’ll want to arrive early if you like to avoid the crowds. With 1,466 ft of elevation gain, Mount Elmore offers a bit more of a challenge for those up to the task. Check out more pointers, including directions, on AllTrails.

Sweeping view of Lake Elmore from Mount Elmore Trail

3. Belvidere Mountain

Long Trail State Forest, Eden, VT - Another moderately challenging hike as rated by AllTrails, this 5.8 mile hike up Belvidere Mountain is a trail less travelled, making this an easy favorite amongst us – as many hikes in Vermont, especially on bluebird sky days, have heavy foot traffic. Taking more than three hours on average to complete, this hike offers beautiful views of the Green Mountains. With over 2000 ft of elevation gain, we agree with the moderate rating. Although you aren’t likely to encounter many others while on this adventure, if you do, you might encounter people bird watching and trail running. One thing to note is that there aren’t frequent trail markers once you get higher up (where it also gets steeper) – so we recommend having a downloaded map and being patient! Remember – always tell a family member or friend where you’re going hiking (especially if you’re going alone), and when you expect to be done.

Sign marking the Long Trail State Forest

4. Sunset Rock

Sunset Rock Park, Stowe, VT - A great 1.6 mile out-and-back trail, rated easy on AllTrails – this is a crowd pleaser that is perfect for families and has excellent views of Mount Mansfield! You’ll likely see dogs, trail runners, and walkers throughout your adventure – but if you’re an early bird, you might have the trail to yourself. With only 367 ft of elevation gain, this is a great option if you still want stunning mountain views but are in search of something a bit more relaxed.

Mountain view from Sunset Rock trail

5. Stowe Pinnacle Trail

CC Putnam State Forest, Stowe, VT - With 1604 ft of elevation gain on a 3.7 mile out-and-back trail, this hike is hard and means business, but it’s worth the effort for the sweeping views of Mount Mansfield! It’s a popular spot (for hikers and birders), and parking is sparse, so best to get there early and beat the rush. This trail has steep sections and varied terrain, but it makes the views that much sweeter!

Picture of Stowe Pinnacle Trail Trailhead

6. Mount Pisgah Trail

Willoughby State Forest, Orleans, VT - A moderate trail with sweeping views, this 4.1 mile out-and-back-trail is a popular one! With 1653 ft of elevation gain, it isn’t a walk in the park but the summit is worth it. With terrain that isn’t too technical, you’re likely to see the occasional trail runner while out on your adventure. Great trail for hiking with dogs!

Dog sitting on ledge with view from Mount Pisgah Trail

7. Prospect Rock

Johnson, VT - Don’t be fooled by the lower elevation and shorter distance. This 1.8 mile out-and-back hike with 567 feet of elevation is rated as moderate on AllTrails, but many agree it’s worth it for the views. Take note, though, that the overlook at the top is closed from April to August for falcon nesting – so if you’re primary reason for hiking is for the view at the top, we recommend choosing another from this list.

Landscape view from Prospect Rock

8. Owlshead Mountain Trail

New Discovery State Park, Peacham, VT - A 3.2 mile out-and-back hike rated easy, Owlshead is a great option for those that want a scenic adventure but don’t want or can’t handle technical terrain or intense elevation. This is a popular trail, so if you want to avoid the crowds (hikers, birders, trail runners), best to get there early!

View of lake from Owlshead Mountain Trail

9. Frost, Long, and Butler Lodge Trail Loop

Mount Mansfield State Forest, Underhill, VT - A hard hike that isn’t for beginners, this 4.7(ish) mile loop trail has a bit of everything in terms of terrain – rock scrambles, ladders, small bridges, etc. Leave the dog at home for this hike, as it’s strenuous and there are a couple gaps between rocks that require a leap of faith. You’ll be rewarded by reaching the forehead of Mansfield, complete with spectacular views. If you’re up for the challenge, definitely check this one out.

Man climbing rock on Frost, Butler Trail Loop

10. Mount Mansfield via Hellbrook Trail

Smugglers' Notch State Park, Stowe, VT - This hike is rated hard, and for good reason. But if you’re up for the challenge, you’ll be rewarded with breathtaking views in every direction from the summit of Vermont’s highest peak. A hike not for the faint of heart, Hellbrook is a beast. It’s short and steep, with varying terrain, and one of the lowest-mileage ways up Mansfield. Our favorite way to tackle this hike?

    1. Park at the bottom of the Stowe Gondola.
    2. Walk up Rt. 108 about 8/10 of a mile.
    3. Ascend via Hellbrook.
    4. Come down Long Trail to Cliff Trail.
    5. Treat yourself for your hard work by taking the Gondola back to your car.