Top 10 Local Favorite Outdoor Adventures in Central Vermont

Oct 06 2022


outdoor recreation hiking biking paddling walking hubbard park adventure

Montpelier, in the heart of Central Vermont, is surrounded by adventure. Right from downtown you can access hiking, mountain biking, gravel biking, nordic skiing, swimming, paddling, and amazing parks for walking. To add to that, Montpelier is just a short drive from dozens of outdoor recreation destinations in all seasons. From world class mountain biking to the northeast’s best ski resorts, Central Vermont is the perfect place to plan your next adventure. Here are some of the best local favorites from our region.

Montpelier - A Hike to the Hubbard Park Tower

Hubbard Park, the city’s premier forested park, offers great views and is a short walk from the State House. Behind the Golden Dome is a network of extensive trails leading upwards towards a meadow at the top of the Hubbard Park hill. A giant tower looms above, with stairs to climb for a fantastic view of the region’s mountains and valleys, and of course our quaint town below.

Montpelier - North Branch River Park

The North Branch River Park offers almost 200 acres of gentle trails and access to miles of challenging cross-country skiing, mountain biking, or walking. A hidden gem in our region, the park can be accessed from the city, or from the nearby North Branch Nature Center on Route 12N. When setting out on the recreation path, a journey could lead to beautiful scenic vistas along the North Branch River, or the Rec fields and pool where community members enjoy gathering, or the Nature Center hills where outdoor enthusiasts go birding and enjoy a peaceful forest walk. Mountain Bikers enjoy the new network of MAMBA (Montpelier Area Mountain Bike Association) trails that weave above the North Branch and provide some technical challenges for the adventurous type. When the river is high, paddlers can quietly move through the wetland and see wildlife like deer, beavers, muskrats, wood ducks, and the occasional bear taking a sip of water or cooling off on hot days. There are many swimming holes along the way.

Mad River Valley - Mountain Biking

The Mad River Valley is home to one of Vermont’s sweetest mountain bike trail networks. The Mad River Riders‘ 60+ miles of trails link and loop throughout the Mad River Valley, connecting our special places with fun, sustainable biking,options for all abilities, including the beginner-friendly Blueberry Lake trails in the Green Mountain National Forest, classic technical trails at Eurich Pond, Chase Brook Town Forest, Camel’s Hump and Phen Basin.

Mad River Valley - Hiking

From scenic walks with spectacular mountain vistas to the challenges of the Long Trail and Camel’s Hump, the Mad River Valley is one of Vermont’s premier hiking destinations. The Long Trail provides hikers and backpackers with the opportunity to summit three of Vermont’s 4000 foot peaks and the Mad River Recreation Path trail system offers walkers and runners the combination of great exercise and beautiful views. Our gravel roads provide yet more opportunities for getting out for a quiet country walk. Guided nature hikes and walks are conducted throughout the year and provide insight into the area’s plant and animal life.

Waterbury - Paddling on the Waterbury Reservoir

Paddling on the Waterbury Reservoir is a favorite in town, and for good reason! The spectacular scenery makes it the perfect spot to enjoy fall colors from a different perspective. Bring your own boat, or rent and launch kayaks, canoes, and stand up paddle boards right from Waterbury Center State Park. To take the adventure off the beaten path, there are remote paddle-to campsites scattered along the shoreline for a night under the stars.

Waterbury - Biking at Perry Hill

As one of the bike best trail networks in Vermont, Perry Hill has plenty to keep riders of all levels happy. With 16 trails, there are countless options for routes and loops, ranging from three to nine miles, and from beginner-friendly descents to fast and flowy rides to technical lines. Perry Hill is also home to a pump track with multiple loops that’s perfect for honing skills and especially popular among younger riders.

Barre - Millstone Trails

Millstone Trails Association is a non-profit organization that maintains the Millstone Trails, a network of non-motorized recreational trails in Barre, Vermont. Millstone trails traverse 1,500 acres of diverse and dramatic terrain, among historic quarries, New England villages, and regenerating forests. Millstone Trails are amazing, whether it be for walking, biking, skiing, snowshoeing, photography, history, or just enjoying the scenery! In addition, Millstone Trails hosts the Quarries Disc Golf course. This 18 hole free public course is located in the Barre Town Forest.

Barre - Rock of Ages Guided Tours

Your Rock of Ages tour experience typically begins at the modern Visitors Center. Here you can reserve your guided caravan tour ticket, enjoy a video about the quarrying and manufacturing processes in our unique round theater, browse historic photos and exhibits, shop for natural stone gifts and enjoy warm Vermont hospitality. The guided quarry tour takes you to an overlook of the Smith Quarry. At nearly 600 feet deep, it is the largest operating deep-hole, dimension granite quarry in the world. A one-of-a-kind tour experience, not to be missed while visiting Vermont. The tour is approximately 40 minutes in length and typically runs rain or shine.

Stowe - Stowe Recreation Path

The Stowe Recreation Path is a 5.3 mile-long flat paved path that serves as a springboard for many outdoor activities year-round. Walk, run, bike, and rollerblade in the summer, and walk, snowshoe, cross-country ski, and fatbike in the winter. The “rec path” (as it’s called locally) provides convenient access to shops, restaurants, lodging, and activities for all ages and abilities, like the Percy Farm Corn Maze and mountain bike trails like Cady Hill and Adams Camp. The path extends from the heart of the historic Stowe village to a classic covered bridge while meandering the West Branch of the Little River. Take in the scenic views for photo memories along the way, including majestic Mt. Mansfield, Vermont’s highest peak.

Stowe - Hiking

With all the mountains, hills and stunning views of the Vermont landscape, it’s no surprise hiking is one of the most popular activities in the area year-round. Stowe’s world-class trails offer a variety of easy, moderate and expert trail options for all ages and abilities. The trail system is well maintained with clear paths and trail blazes. Right off the Green Mountain Byway is Vermont’s tallest waterfall: Moss Glen Falls, an ideal location for a short and scenic hike. Enjoy gentle woods walks like Kirchner Woods and Wiessner Woods—both on land conserved by Stowe Land Trust for recreation use. Peer into scenic Smugglers’ Notch via the ADA-accessible boardwalk at Barnes Camp, run by the Green Mountain Club, along Vermont’s historic Long Trail, the country’s oldest footpath. The “LT” runs 273 miles between the Massachusetts and Canadian borders and crosses over Mt. Mansfield and into Smugglers’ Notch and beyond. You can also drive through Smugglers’ Notch to hike the more moderate Sterling Pond, or in the winter, walk or cross-country ski up into the notch via Route 108. Stowe Pinnacle is a great all-around moderate hike. Mt. Mansfield is a hefty day hike, but you can also drive the Auto Toll Road or ride the gondola at Stowe Mountain Resort for scenic views and take a shorter hike to the nose. As well, Trapp Family Lodge, originally built in 1950 and currently run by the family that inspired The Sound of Music, offers sweeping mountain views from its property from which you can get a trail pass to hike, bike, take a tour, and more.

Central Vermont has so much to offer, year-round. As the leaves turn color, and the weather cools, consider a visit to one of the region’s most beautiful outdoor settings.

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