Hiking in Stowe, Vermont: 9 Trails for All Levels to Enjoy

The top of the Mount Mansfield hike near Stowe Vermont with lush green forest and a blue sky with white clouds

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There are plenty of awesome options to go hiking in Stowe Vermont and nearby. Located in central Vermont along the New York border, Stowe enjoys quite a reputation as a hipster enclave and mecca for outdoor adventure enthusiasts.

While summertime might be the most popular hiking season, we’re also huge fans of Stowe in fall and enjoying the pretty foliage up close along the trails.

If you’re planning a New England vacation, Stowe should definitely be on your radar!

You may also like our guides, the best places to visit in Vermont and East Coast hikes for all levels.

You can also plan your hiking trails around these camping spots in VT.

Where to Go Hiking Near Stowe VT

Hike to Bingham Falls in Mount Mansfield State Forest

One of the best choices for short hiking trails near Stowe VT is Bingham Falls in Mount Mansfield State Forest.

It’s only half a mile round trip with minor elevation gain and can be finished in 30 to 60 minutes. 

You will be treated to cascades and pools along the way as you descend into the mini gorge, but do not swim in any of these as the currents are deceptively strong here.

The 40-foot waterfall drops into an emerald green pool, which is a popular spot for cooling off in the summer months.

Caution is strongly advised as well as appropriate footwear as the trail can be slippery when it nears the gorge.

Geology enthusiasts will love the features of this gorge as the river cuts through the rock in a serpentine fashion.

This trail is managed by the Stowe Land Trust as a conservation area, and it’s important to stay on the trail and keep a respectful distance from wildlife.

This trail is quite popular, so be sure to arrive early for a quieter experience! 

After you finish up, go get refreshed with a half-day brewery tour.

Bingham Falls also features in our guide to mud season in Vermont.

A long exposure shot of Bingham Falls in Smuggler's Notch near Stowe Vermont

Or Take the Easier Mill Trail to Bingham Falls

An easier way to access Bingham Falls is from the other side of the river via the Mill Trail.

The Mill Trail is a wonderful mix of forest and river, and it’s a great wildlife habitat.

Its proximity to the main road makes it a convenient place to stop, but the peaceful sounds of the river cover the sound of traffic.

Two miles long and primarily covered in crushed stone, this is a fantastic family-friendly hike near Stowe. 

Wildlife, footbridges, and interesting natural formations make a great trail for the imagination.

The Moravian cabin on the property is one of the first ski-in roadside inns, built in 1935 to provide accommodation for skiers.

The cabin has since been renovated and is the home of Stowe Land Trust, a place created for public education and to “conserve scenic, recreational, and productive farm and forest lands for the benefit of the greater Stowe community.”

At the end of the trail, you will be rewarded with a view of Bingham Falls from above.

You can participate in the Summer Naturalist Program to learn more about the environment.

Hike the Iconic Stowe Pinnacle Trail

The Stowe Pinnacle Trail is one of the best hikes near Stowe VT for its dramatic views of the Green Mountains.

There are 2 routes for tackling the Stowe Pinnacle hike. 

For an easier and shorter option, start from the Pinnacle Meadows Lot which is 2.6 miles round trip.

The trail from Upper Hollow Road is longer and more difficult at 3.6 miles round trip with steep rocky sections.

Both trails lead to the same stunning viewpoint, which is one of the most photographed spots in Vermont.

Stowe Welcome postcard Vermont

Mount Mansfield: Vermont’s Highest Peak

If you’re looking for a day of challenging hiking near Stowe Vermont, head up Mount Mansfield. 

Mount Mansfield is Vermont’s highest peak, rising above The Lake in the Clouds with an elevation of 4,395 feet.

The mountain was originally called Mozdebiwajo (Moosehead Mountain) by the Abenaki tribe, which is believed by some to be a reference to a legend of a moose that turned to stone.  

There are a number of options to get to the top.

The top of the Mount Mansfield hike near Stowe Vermont with lush green forest and a blue sky with white clouds

The Hell Brook Trail is a very steep and demanding route and one of the most notable Stowe trails for the exhaustive effort needed to complete it.

This path takes you to “the Chin”, a reference to the way in which the Mount Mansfield ridgeline resembles the profile of a man lying down – you can also take a detour up the Adam’s Apple.

The trail ascends up a brook which means it is always slippery, and shouldn’t be used as a descent trail.

It’s advisable to opt for the Long Trail down, which will bring you out about a one-mile walk from the parking area for the Hell Brook Trail.

Be mindful of the forecast as weather can change quickly – it’s crucial to be prepared with layers for all conditions.

There are 200 acres of Arctic Tundra on the mountain, which is a very delicate ecosystem and easily damaged by human footfall, so staying on the trail is a must!

Some trails close from mid-April to Memorial Day to allow this vegetation to grow, so it’s helpful to call the Vermont State Parks general information line at 1-888-409-7579 for up-to-date trail information.  

You can also get to the top via the Auto Road or the Gondola at Stowe Mountain Resort.

You may also like our guide to Vermont in the fall.

Red enclosed gondolas overhead against a blue sky in autumn in Vermont

Hike to the Mount Elmore Fire Tower

Mount Elmore rises steeply above Lake Elmore, the central feature of Elmore State Park which was created by the Civilian Conservation Corps in 1933.

At the top of the 2,608-foot mountain is the Mount Elmore Fire Tower, constructed in 1939. 

Now inactive, the tower is one of the few remaining Vermont fire towers and is on the National Historic Lookout Registry.

A view across Lake Elmore in Stowe Vermont in autumn

The Elmore Mountain Fire Tower Trail is 3 miles round trip.

Take care on the last bit of the trail as it is steep and rocky.

From the top, you can see Vermont’s Green Mountains as well as the Presidential Range in New Hampshire.

For some down-home bakery goodness, visit the Cold Hollow Cider Mill.

Take a Short Walk to the Trapp Family Lodge Chapel

For an easy Stowe walking trail, look no further than the Trapp Family Lodge. 

While on tour in Vermont in the 1940s, the von Trapp family (of Sound of Music fame), were struck by the resemblance of the hills around Stowe to their home in Austria. 

Werner von Trapp swore he would build a chapel if he survived a battle in the Italian mountains. 

After settling in Vermont, he began work on the chapel in 1946, completing it four years later.

The beautiful structure sits above the Trapp Family Lodge as a memorial to WWII soldiers. 

Suitable for all ages, this is a bit of a steep hike but only a mile round trip from the Lodge.

Enjoy a peaceful moment at the beautiful stone chapel, where you can write a prayer or ring the bell.

Book a stay to take advantage of all the activities the Trapp Family Lodge has to offer.

Trapp Family Lodge sign and flowers in Stowe Vermont

Tackle the Smuggler’s Notch Sterling Pond Trail

There’s certainly plenty of variety when it comes to Stowe hiking trails, but the Smuggler’s Notch trails might just show this off best. 

Smuggler’s Notch is a narrow pass through the Green Mountains of Vermont, flanked by 1,000-foot cliffs.

Its current name is a reference to smugglers moving goods over an illegal trade route to Canada during the War of 1812.

The Sterling Pond Trail is a unique Stowe hiking experience in the notch that leads to a mountaintop pond.

This trail is relatively short at only 1.1 miles each way, but with 1,000 feet of elevation gain, it is quite steep.

For that reason, this may not be the best trail if you have bad knees or very young children.

If you continue past the pond on either the Long Trail South or Long Trail North you will find beautiful views at the tops of two of Smuggler’s Notch Resorts chairlifts. 

You can also take a 1.4-mile loop around the pond for a closer look at the flora and fauna of the pond.

If the views of the ski area make you daydream of winter, you might enjoy a stop at The Vermont Ski and Snowboard Museum.

Smugglers Notch historic sign in Stowe Vermont

Or Take the Easier Smuggler’s Notch Boardwalk Trail

For an easy, short walk that allows you to take in views of Smuggler’s Notch from forest wetlands, park at the Barnes Camp Visitors Center and take the boardwalk towards the beaver dam.

This is a great option for wheelchair and stroller users, and those looking for a quick way to bask in a bit of nature. 

The trail is just a quarter-mile round trip and has educational panels along the way to teach visitors about the history of the area and the importance of the wetland habitat.

The trail continues past the end of the boardwalk. 

You can turn around here, or continue on the Long Trail for an extended hike and connect to other trails.

A panoramic view of peak fall foliage in Smugglers Notch, Vermont

Sunset Rock (Great for Kids)

With a minimal elevation gain and short distance, Sunset Rock is one of the best hikes in Stowe VT for kids.

This conveniently located walk leaves from the center of town at the end of Sunset Street (but keep in mind that there is no parking allowed at the end of Sunset Street.)

You can stop at the rock for a view down to Main Street, and a picnic lunch.

You can also check out the Glacial Kettle Hole, an interesting geological formation, created by small pebbles swirling in a whirlpool and gradually smoothing a hole into the rock.

If you continue on a quarter of a mile to the Upper Overlook, you will be rewarded with a great view of Mount Mansfield.

For a unique dining experience, check out the variety of crepes and other fare at The Skinny Pancake.

The Skinny Pancake at the Lodge at Spruce Peak in Stowe Vermont

Final Words

Are you ready to go hiking in Stowe now?

Let us know your favorite trails in the comments below!

We’re always happy to add more suggestions to help other hikers find the perfect trail for them.

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