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Enjoy the Best of Vermont With a Fall Foliage Trip

Vermont

Exploring Vermont in Autumn

By: Jenny Willden

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  • States:
    Vermont

The New England states are known for spectacular fall foliage, and Vermont, three-quarters of which is covered in forest, is perhaps the best place to see trees ablaze in reds, oranges and yellows during autumn.

As the temperatures cool, hit the country roads to see and photograph this dazzling kaleidoscope of changing colors — an activity known to Vermonters as "leaf peeping." Vermont is one of New England's best places to leaf peep thanks to its abundance of sugar maple trees. These trees display more hues than other varieties. Bonus: Their sap is used to produce real maple syrup. Unfortunately, it can be tough to predict exactly when the fall leaves will be at their most vibrant. The timing of the color change varies from year to year and depends on many factors from weather to elevation. Most agree the safest booking bets are the end of September to the beginning of October.

Hit the Road

Start your road trip in northern Vermont, where colors change first, and make your way south, crossing the state's famous covered bridges and driving  through quaint and historic towns. Remember to pack a warm jacket, comfortable boots, gloves and a scarf, as the weather here is quick to change. 

Fly into Vermont's most populous city at the Burlington International Airport, just 10 minutes from spectacular Lake Champlain. This brilliant blue lake and its shore are surrounded by changing trees , making for a dazzling starting point for your tour. End your day at Church Street Marketplace, a bustling pedestrian shopping and dining destination.

Head to Stowe

58 kilometers from Burlington, 45-minute drive

Continue to the mountain town of Stowe via I-89 and Route 100, or if you have time, take the longer, scenic route through Smuggler's Notch. This dramatic mountain pass showcases brilliantly colored forests and rock outcroppings before ending in Stowe.

Known as the Ski Capital of the East, Stowe is the birthplace of Nordic skiing in the United States, but it's even more beautiful to visit before the snow falls. See the changing leaves from above on a Gondola SkyRide to the top of Mount Mansfield — Vermont's tallest peak. Go for a hike at the top to better photograph the colorful leaves, or return to town to tour the nearby Ben & Jerry's Factory and taste the celebrated ice cream.

Get a Bird's-Eye View in Montpelier

36 kilometers from Stowe, 30-minute drive

From Stowe, drive to the state capital of Montpelier. The city's ornate, gold-domed state house is backed by colorful leaves every autumn, making it an essential photo stop. For a high-level look, visit Hubbard Park and climb the 16-meter-high observation tower's steps to see panoramic views of the autumn leaves.

Old-World Charm in Woodstock

87 kilometers from Montpelier, one-hour drive

Take Route 12 south to Northfield Falls, where three covered bridges sit within a quarter mile of each other — the Upper Cox, Lower Cox and Northfield Falls bridges. Continue to Woodstock, a quintessential New England village on the banks of the Ottauquechee River. The town is home to Vermont's only national park as well as picturesque farmlands surrounded by changing trees. 

This charming, historic village also boasts three covered bridges, including one of Vermont's oldest, the Taftsville Covered Bridge, built in 1836.

Finish up in Brattleboro

106 kilometers from Woodstock, one-hour drive

Situated on the New Hampshire-Vermont state line, this funky town is known for its art galleries, food scene and outdoor recreation. Take time to stroll the charming, historic downtown before leaf peeping at Hogle Wildlife Sanctuary. Or rent a kayak or canoe and glide along the Connecticut River for autumn color views.

Don't Miss Vermont's Historic Covered Bridges

Many of Vermont's iconic covered bridges have stood since the 1800s, and their unique construction continues to delight visitors today. More than 100 bridges remain intact, and you can see some of the most beautiful, well-preserved ones on this road trip route. Here are a few favorites:

- Stowe: Gold Brook Covered Bridge - Darkly painted wooden bridge that's best known for being haunted. 
- Near Montpelier: Slaughter House Covered Bridge - One of the town's five remaining 19th-century bridges. 
- Woodstock: Northfield Fall Covered Bridge and Lower Cox Brook Covered Bridge - The only place in Vermont to see two bridges at once.
- Brattleboro: Creamery Covered Bridge - The best place to capture an authentic Vermont bridge photo, this beautiful red structure is open only to pedestrian traffic.