A view of a green meadow and the tall white pinnacle of Stowe Community Church with fall foliage in the distance

The 9 Best Hiking Trails in Stowe Vermont

Wander through Stowe's quaint outskirts, taking in the fall colors, or challenge yourself on a day hike with summit views of the village. Here are all the best trails for your getaway to Stowe, Vermont.

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Stowe, Vermont might be known for its quaint small town charm, the scenic rolling hills and idyllic farms on its outskirts, but it's also an outdoor lover's destination. It's one of the best places to visit in Vermont because of the variety of recreation opportunities and hiking is certainly one of them.

Here are nine of the best hikes in Stowe. We've grouped them into categories of easy, moderate, and difficult, because there's a little something for everyone, whether you want to take a long, but leisurely stroll through the village, or summit the tallest mountain in Vermont.

Stowe's Best Easy Hiking Trails

Bingham Falls

Distance | 0.5 miles Elevation gain | 157 feet Difficulty | Easy Duration | 20 minutes

Who doesn't want an easy hiking trail that leads to a spectacular view?

The Bingham Falls Trail is a mere half mile walk downhill with a nice pay off at the end.

The waterfall looks especially beautiful in autumn, when the surrounding foliage changes and fallen leaves litter the wet rocks along the river.

The trail itself is easy, but to get down to the bottom of the falls you'll need to do a little light scrambling and stepping down on the rocks, which can be very slippery when wet.

Access the trail on the east side of Route 108/Mountain Road, which divides a moderately sized parking area in two. There's enough room here for a couple dozen vehicles.

An alternate route that adds 0.8 miles round trip is the Mill Trail. Take Notchbrook Road half a mile from Mountain Road to reach the trailhead. You'll need to park along the edge of the winding road here. The trail takes you to the other side of the river and you can continue on to see more of the gorge upstream from the falls.

A waterfall pours down from under bright fall foliage with wet rocks and leaves in the foreground.

Stowe Recreation Path & Quiet Path

Distance | Up to 10.4 miles Elevation gain | 252 feet Difficulty | Easy Duration | 20+ minutes

Starting at Lintilhac Park you can step onto the 5.5 mile long Recreation Path and walk as far as you'd like, almost as far north as Bingham Falls.

The path winds its way out from the heart of Stowe, leading walkers, joggers, and cyclists along rural fields as it roughly follows the West Branch of the Little River.

You can find parking for the trailhead directly behind the historic Stowe Community Church.

A quarter mile from there is an intersection with the Quiet Path. It's a grassy, natural trail that offers extra solitude for walkers and joggers only. We walked this path for almost two miles on a beautiful fall day, enjoying the peaceful setting along the open fields of the Mayo Farm and the river.

A stream cuts through thick brush and colorful fall foliage.A sign on a covered walkway that says 'Stowe Vermont' in decorative script.

The trail isn't difficult at all and could hardly be called a hike, unless you decided to tackle the whole thing in a day. It does have a very slow and gradual incline as it heads north. There are plenty of parking lots along the route if you'd like to hit a particular section.

You'll be taken past several shops, bars, and restaurants, so overall it's a great way to get outside, burn some calories, and see the village of Stowe.

Macutchan Loop

Distance | 3.0 miles Elevation gain | 344 feet Difficulty | Easy Duration | 1+ hour

Downtown Stowe sits just below the heavily forested Cady Hill. It's a popular attraction for both hikers and mountain bikers.

The trailhead for Macutchan Loop and a small parking area is located on Mountain Road, a few minutes drive from downtown.

You'll gain a little over 300 feet of elevation on this 3.0 mile loop, making it a nice easy climb. From the top of the hill you can enjoy some views through the trees of distant Green Mountain peaks.

On a nice day you can expect the trail to be fairly busy. Since it's a mixed-use trail, be alert for mountain bikers, and pay careful attention to signs indicating bike only branch trails.

Stowe's Best Moderate Hiking Trails

Sterling Pond Trail & Smuggler's Notch

Distance | 2.1 miles Elevation gain | 938 feet Difficulty | Moderate Duration | 1.5 hours

Smuggler's Notch has a storied history and terrific views. The narrow pass winds its way up through rocky outcroppings, making hairpin turns around giant boulders. Those are always fun in our extended length campervan! It's a scenic New England drive you're absolutely going to want to do on your trip to Stowe.

And while you're up there, you might as well hop on the trail, directly across from Smuggler's Notch Visitor Center and make the short hike up to Sterling Pond.

Thick fog hangs over a rocky outcropping with colorful fall foliage below.A white campervan parked among orange fallen leaves with brightly covered foliage behind it.

You'll encounter quite a few stairs on the way up. Essentially, you're hiking up a stream bed, so expect plenty of trickling water and some mud. It's best to wear some waterproof hiking boots to keep your feet dry.

If you end up enjoying this hike, you're sure to love the Flume Gorge Trail in New Hampshire. These wet and rocky trails are some of our favorites in New England, especially during the fall, when everything is damp and the leaves bring spectacular color and contrast.

Though it's fairly steep, the elevation is manageable. Because of the wet conditions it can get slippery. If you struggle with stairs at all or are like us and have creaky knees, invest in a good pair of trekking poles to keep yourself steady.

Sterling Pond at the top is a beautiful view, surrounded by evergreen trees. It's especially photogenic on a nice calm and clear morning, when the water is still, but it can look dramatic and interesting even with some fog and rain.

Spruce Peak

Distance | 2.8 miles Elevation gain | 1,207 feet Difficulty | Moderate Duration | 2 hours

Whether you do it as a standalone hike, or combine it with Sterling Pond, Spruce Peak is a great trail to add to your Stowe itinerary.

One mile up the Sterling Pond Trail you'll hit the intersection with the Long Trail. It's the oldest long distance trail in the US and runs the full length of the state.

Making a right here takes you another half mile up to the top of Spruce Peak.

Just below, you can take in the views from Sensation Quad, one of Stowe Mountain Resort's ski lifts.

As with Sterling Pond, come prepared for wet, muddy, and slippery conditions up the trail.

Barnes Camp Loop

Distance | 1.3 miles Elevation gain | 354 feet Difficulty | Moderate Duration | 45 minutes

Another trail worth stopping for while making the drive through Smuggler's Notch or passing by Stowe Mountain is the Barnes Camp Loop.

This hike has a little of everything, while still being relatively short and not too difficult.

Starting from either the Barnes Camp Visitor Center or the Long Trail parking area half a mile north, you'll start on a flat area along the bank of the West Branch River, with a section of boardwalk and some easy stream crossings.

On the other side of the river the trail ascends quickly, gaining about 400 feet over half a mile if done counter-clockwise, or 400 feet over 0.2 miles if done clockwise.

Again, the views during autumn, with colorful foliage reflecting off the water on a calm day are spectacular.

If you're willing to put in some miles, you could combine Barnes Camp Loop with Spruce Peak, continuing north on the Long Trail all the way up to Sterling Pond, and then double back to the trailhead for a total of about 7.0 miles.

A woman hiking up a trail through a forest during fall.A red gondola with 'Stowe' written on it crosses above a road with fall foliage in the background.

Sunset Rock

Distance | 1.1 miles Elevation gain | 324 feet Difficulty | Moderate Duration | 45 minutes

This short but steep trail takes you up to a viewpoint looking back over the village, to the west.

Overgrown trees and brush can partially obstruct views from the top, so don't expect a panoramic vista. You will, however, be able to see the iconic steeple of the Stowe Community Church and the main stretch through downtown.

As the name suggests, catching the last light of the day here can be beautiful, with the sun setting over the distant mountains.

Stowe's Best Difficult Hiking Trails

Stowe Pinnacle Trail

Distance | 3.1 miles Elevation gain | 1561 feet Difficulty | Moderate-Hard Duration | 2-3 hours

A must-do hike is the Stowe Pinnacle Trail. It's one of those hikes that really gets your blood pumping, but is worth the reward at the top.

Most of the trail is wooded and a steady uphill climb over rocky terrain.

At the top you'll break out of the tree line for panoramic views of the surrounding area beneath Mount Putnam.

You're sure to be sharing those views with plenty of others, since this is probably the most popular hike in the area. Keep that in mind as you plan ahead. The parking area is small and, although you can find some roadside spots when it overflows, it's best to arrive early in the morning to avoid the crowd.

The trailhead's located on Upper Hollow Road, five minutes outside of downtown Stowe.

A woman sits on a rock overlooking a bright orange and red panorama of fall color from Stowe Pinnacle Trail

Mount Mansfield

Distance | 7.7 miles Elevation gain | 2,893 feet Difficulty | Hard Duration | 4-6 hours

Mount Mansfield attracts hikers who want to check off the tallest peak in Vermont and have a slightly more adventurous experience.

The Mount Mansfield Loop Trail is considered one of the best hikes in the state. It will take you up 2,893 feet over 5 miles, bringing you to The Chin, Vermont's highest point at 4,397 feet.

From the east, the ridgeline resembles the elongated profile of a man's face, its high points marked with names like The Forehead, The Nose, and The Chin.

This hike isn't for the unprepared, however. Reaching the summit requires some rock scrambling, climbing up iron rungs, and clearing rock gaps. If you've ever hiked the Beehive or Precipice Trails in Acadia National Park, you're in for a similar experience.

Iron rungs leading up a vertical rocky face on a trail.A woman stepping from one rock to another on a narrow rocky ledge.

Since weather can also be unpredictable in the mountains, you'll want to come prepared with the right gear. Wear sturdy hiking boots, pack layers, including a rainproof shell, and consider bringing the 10 essentials.

All the effort to make it to the top will be worth it though. Under clear conditions, you can see Lake Champlain and New York's Adirondacks, the White Mountains in New Hampshire, and Canada to the north.

Begin the climb from the trailhead at Underhill State Park, where Mountain Road ends to become CCC Road. After a short trek following the road, you'll turn right and head counter-clockwise around the loop.

Unique to Mount Mansfield is the alpine tundra zone. It's an area of fragile, endangered vegetation that's rare in Vermont. Practicing Leave No Trace principles here is especially important. Please remember to walk only on rocks, never vegetation. Keep dogs on a leash. And respect the rules of no camping or fires.

Planning a visit to Stowe? Save these hikes for later!

A waterfall with colorful fall foliage around it with text overlay that says 'The Best Hiking Trails in Stowe Vermont'

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A waterfall surrounded by large boulders and colorful fall foliage
A woman in a red coat walks down a boardwalk toward a picturesque red covered bridge during fall
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