Hiking is a great way to experience the beauty of nature and get in touch with your surroundings. Many of the hiking trails in Vermont offer exactly that experience - natural beauty, untouched forests, and spectacular views. Between the mountains and the huge expanses of forest, Vermont is a great place to take a hike, and these three Vermont hiking trails offer some of the best views you'll find anywhere in New England.
1. Hiking to the Stratton Mountain Fire Tower
Fire towers are built to achieve a commanding view of their surroundings, so its no surprise that the Stratton Mountain fire tower offers hikers an impressive vista at the end of their climb. Situated at the top of the tallest mountain in southern Vermont - 3,936 feet - the Stratton Mountain fire tower is impressive both for its high vantage point and for its station on the Long Trail, which experienced hikers will know is also part of the Vermont leg of the Appalachian Trail.
The portion of the AT/LT that leads to the Stratton fire tower is a 7.6 mile round-trip that climbs almost 2,000 feet, so plan to spend a day at it and keep a watchful eye on the weather. If you aren't interested in going the long way, you can also get to the fire tower hiking trail by either climbing Stratton Mountain's ski slopes, or by taking Stratton's gondola up the mountain and then taking a short hike to the top. Whichever way you choose to get there, the views are definitely worth it. On a clear day you can see into five states from atop the 55-foot tower.
2. Bald Mountain Hiking Trail
For intermediate hikers looking for a great view without an extreme challenge, Bald Mountain is a great short day's hike. Hikers can take two different approaches to the peak of Bald Mountain, following hiking trails from either Bennington or Woodford. The Bennington side of the trail is a little longer and steeper, at approximately 7.2 miles round-trip and around 2,160 feet of elevation change. The Woodford side is shorter and less dramatic, at about 4 miles and 1,580 feet of climb.
In either case, the payoff at the end of this trail is excellent. Views from Bald Mountain stretch far away to a distant horizon. There are also other places to catch additional vistas along the trail - several rock promontories along the way offer panoramic scenes of the Green Mountains and nearby valleys.
3. Haystack Mountain Hiking Trail
Near Wilmington, VT, you'll find our third hike, which summits the imposing Haystack Mountain. For a mountain of its size, the hiking trail to the top of Haystack Mountain is surprisingly gentle and friendly to most intermediate hikers, and is easy accessed from Chimney Hill. Over the 4.8 miles of the trail, you'll encounter elevation change of about 1,020 feet, which isn't a lot considering the mountain itself is more than 3,000 feet tall. There are a few sharp inclines to give your legs a workout, but overall this hike shouldn't take more than a few hours, making it perfect for an afternoon or an adventurous picnic.
At the top, you'll be greeted by views of the surrounding mountains and towns, including Mount Snow and our own Wilmington. You'll also see Haystack Pond very close, but don't be too tempted to cool your feet in it. Since the town of Wilmington uses it as a water reservoir, the pond is unfortunately off-limits. Most likely, though, the view (and the cooler aire at the top) will be refreshing enough, and it will almost certainly make this short-but-sweet hiking trail worth the trip.
Of course these aren't the only great hiking trails in southern Vermont. However, they do offer some of the best views, and they're also all conveniently close to our own Chimney Hill rental homes. These summer rental houses are the perfect place to kick off your hiking boots and enjoy the Vermont air with all the comforts and amenities of home.