Let’s HikeVT! This week we’re recommending hikes that are perfect for families with children of all ages. These kid-friendly hikes are all easy enough for the smallest of hikers and have lots of interesting features like a Gnome home, puncheon and bridges, and rivers and ponds.
- Wiessner Woods, Stowe
- Short Trail, Waterbury Center
- Beane Trail, Huntington
- Appalachian Trail to Kent Pond, Killington
- Long Trail to Little Rock Pond, Mount Tabor
Wiessner Woods, Stowe
» 1.84 mi round trip, approx. 135 ft elevation gain
This easy trail system is managed by Stowe Land Trust. It has a few different length loops to try with many different features to see along the way including bridges, a sugarhouse, a vernal pool, different forest types, and most exciting of all is the Gnome Home!
Driving Directions from Stowe: Follow route 108 to turn right onto Edson Hill Road, pass the entrance to the Stowehof Inn, and take the next drive on your right. The Wiessner Woods trailhead is on your left. Map it.
Short Trail, Waterbury Center
» 0.7 mi round trip, approx. 54 ft elevation gain
Located behind the GMC Headquarters, the Short Trail gives visitors a taste of the Long Trail! Complete with white blazes, informational signs, puncheon, bridges, and even an old Journey’s End shelter, it is perfect for families with small children.
Driving Directions: From I89, take exit 10 and follow Route 100 North. The Green Mountain Club will be on your left past Cold Hollow Cider. Map it.
Beane Trail, Huntington
» 2.8 mi round trip, approx. 600 ft elevation gain
The Beane Trail comes highly recommended by 5-year old Lincoln, who enjoys hiking it with his dad Jason (GMC’s Director of Finance). This is also a great option for first time backpackers! From the parking area, walk past the iron gate and follow a farm road through open woods until an intersection where the Beane Trail transitions to a more traditional hiking trail. From here, the Beane Trail ascends at a gentle, steady pitch to Birch Glen Shelter.
From Bristol: Head north on VT-116 N/VT-17 E. At split, turn right on VT-17 E. After 6.9 mi, turn right on Gore Rd. After 2.9 mi, turn right on Carse Rd. At Moody Rd, take a quick right then quick left to stay on Carse Rd. After passing a large farm on your right, park by an iron gate on your left (do not block gate).
From Waitsfield: Follow VT-17 W up and over Appalachian Gap. 2.7 mi after height of gap, turn right on Gore Rd. After 2.9 mi, turn right on Carse Rd. At Moody Rd, take a quick right then quick left to stay on Carse Rd. After passing a large farm on your right, park by an iron gate on your left (do not block gate). Map it.
Appalachian Trail to Kent Pond, Killington
»1.2 mi round trip, approx. < 20 ft elevation gain
Follow the white blazed Appalachian Trail over a bridge, past a small waterfall, and along the shore of Kent Pond to end at Thundering Brook Rd. Return the way you came.
Driving Directions: From the VT-100/US-4 intersection in Killington, go about 0.4 miles north on VT-100. The parking for the trailhead is on the right. Map it.
Long Trail to Little Rock Pond, Mount Tabor
» 4.0 mi round trip, approx. 324 ft elevation gain
This easy section of the Long Trail gradually rises to Little Rock Pond. The pond is a great spot to swim, look for salamanders, and eat lunch. For a slightly longer trip, continue to follow the Long Trail north to the junction with the Little Rock Pond Loop Trail. Follow the loop trail along the shoreline back to the Long Trail.
Driving Directions: From the intersection of US-7 and Brooklyn Road in Danby, take Brooklyn Road east (USFS Road 10) for 3.2 miles to a paved parking lot on the right, 0.6 miles past the Big Branch Picnic Area. Start your hike near the sign board directly across the road from the parking lot. Map it.
Best First Hikes for Summer
- Sterling Pond, in Stowe
- Mt. Ellen via the Jerusalem Trail, in Starksboro
- Mt. Abraham from Lincoln Gap, in Warren
- Duxbury Window Trail, in Bolton
- White Rock Mountain via the Middlesex Trail, in Middlesex
Sterling Pond Trail, in Stowe — Moderate
» 2.4 mi round trip, approx. 930 ft elevation gain
Group Outreach Coordinator John Plummer’s favorite first hike of the season is the Sterling Pond Trail at sunset. This trek to Vermont’s highest-elevation pond isn’t too long making it the perfect spot to get a few after-work casts in during trout season. The trail starts on a rock staircase on the east side of Route 108, continuing with a steady ascent until you reach the Long Trail. Turn left to reach the pond in just .1 miles. If you’re looking for a loop hike, turn right on the LT to hit the Elephant Head Trail, which loops around Sterling Pond.
Driving Directions from Stowe: From Route 100 in Stowe, take 108 N for 9.7 miles until you reach the Smuggler’s Cave parking area on your left. Map it.
Mt. Ellen via the Jerusalem Trail, in Starksboro — Moderate to Difficult
» 8.4 mi round trip, approx. 2480 ft elevation gain
The GMC’s Development Coordinator Erica Harris’ favorite first hike is Mount Ellen via the Jerusalem Trail. It is a nice gradual approach, so you can take your time to appreciate all the various forest types along the way. At 2.4 miles, turn right onto the Long Trail, which you follow for 1.8 miles to the summit of Mount Ellen. Though it is on the longer side at 8.4 miles round trip, you are awarded with wonderful views from the ski trails near the summit!
Driving Directions: From the intersection of the east branch of Jerusalem Road and VT-17 (this intersection is located 6 miles west of the Long Trail at Appalachian Gap and 3.5 miles east of VT-116), head south on Jerusalem Road for 1.2 miles. Turn left onto Jim Dwire Road, and go 0.5 miles to the trailhead on the right. Roadside parking space is limited; please park considerately. Map it.
Mt. Abraham from Lincoln Gap, in Warren — Difficult
» 5.2 mi round trip, approx. 1600’ ft elevation gain
GMC Executive Director, Mike DeBonis, enjoys early season evening hikes up Mount Abraham to watch the sunset and then hike down by headlamp. Following the Long Trail North from Lincoln Gap, you gradually climb past Battell Shelter, where the trail starts to steepen up with some fun rock slab scrambles. From the summit, there is an amazing 360 view, alpine tundra, and you can even find a plane crash site just off the summit.
Driving Directions: From Route 100 in Warren, follow Lincoln Gap Road 4.7 miles the parking area. Map it.
Duxbury Window, in Bolton — Easy
» 3.2 mi round trip, approx. 850 ft elevation gain
Director Of Development and Communications, Alicia DiCocco, uses the hike to Duxbury Window as an early season training trail for longer hikes. With the “window” a quick 1.6 miles south on the Long Trail, it is a nice after work hike. You will find a magical fern meadow along the way plus a bench at the viewpoint to rest and eat trails snacks before heading back down the trail.
Driving Directions:From I-89, take exit 10 in Waterbury. Follow Route 100 South to the roundabout where you take the third exit onto Main St/Route 2 South. Turn right onto Winooski St then a right onto River Rd. Continue for about 9.6 miles until you reach the trailhead for Camel’s Hump State Forest on your left. Map it.
White Rocks Mountain via the Middlesex Trail, Middlesex — Moderate to Difficult
» 5.2 mi round trip, approx. 1610 ft elevation gain
Visitor Center Manager Amy Potter’s favorite early season hike brings you off the Long Trail and into the Worcester Range. The Middlesex Trail isn’t as widely used as the Waterbury side of the mountain, and most people continue on to summit Hunger Mountain, whereas Amy prefers to take the Bob Kemp Trail from the Middlesex trail to head over to the summit of White Rock. Though not as tall as Hunger, you will still find lots of open rock, fun rock scrambles, and amazing views of the Green Mountains.
Driving Directions: From Montpelier, head north on VT-12/Elm Street/Worcester Branch Road and continue for 4.9 miles. Turn left onto Shady Rill Road and continue for 2.2 miles. Turn right onto Story Road and continue for 0.7 miles. Turn left onto North Bear Swamp Road and continue for 1.9 miles to the parking area on the right. Map it.
Make sure you plan ahead:
- Check our COVID-19 Response page for current hiking recommendations and a link to Vermont’s official travel guidelines.
- Many roads used to access the Long Trail are seasonal. Check the status of specific roads ahead of time using this general map of Vermont roads or this list of US Forest Service Roads.
- Guidebooks and maps are available for purchase at GMC’s Visitor Center, GMC’s online store, and in most Vermont bookstores and outdoor gear retailers. Many maps have digital versions.
More HikeVT trails to explore, by season:
- Summer recommendations: by location; first hikes; day hikes; kid-friendly hikes;
- Fall recommendations: by location; day hikes;
- Winter recommendations by skill level: easy hikes; moderate hikes; moderate to difficult hikes; difficult hikes; and difficult hikes above 4,000 feet; day hikes
- Mud season recommendations: scenic hikes; high-mileage hikes; alternatives to popular peaks; hikes to waterways; accessible hikes; day hikes
Questions? Our visitor center staff is here to assist you. Call (802) 244-7037 or email [email protected].