Fall foliage will be here before long. The last week of September and first two weeks of October are typically prime time for foliage season in Vermont. But over the last couple of years, Vermont’s fall colors have lasted well into mid and late October. When peak foliage hits is anyone’s guess. But I do know that these eight places will make you happy while you’re out exploring in Vermont this fall.
Here are 8 places to go in Vermont in fall:
The Appalachian Gap
The Appalachian Gap, also known as “App Gap,” is located in Buels Gore, a 3,500-acre area of land in Chittenden County between Fayston and Starksboro. Much of the gore is densely forested on land owned by the state.
You can take Route 17 to the top of App Gap and soak up views of the Champlain Valley and Adirondacks, or explore The Long Trail on either side of the road. Buels Gore has no school, no store, no town government, no post office, and no town hall. But the App Gap is out of this world.
Getting there: From Route 100 in Waitsfield, take Route 17 east and travel past Mad River Glen up to the top of the Appalachian Gap.
Kelley Stand Road in the Green Mountains
Kelley Stand Road between East Arlington and Stratton is one of my favorite fall go-to places. The road stretches from Wardsboro to East Arlington on a dirt road through the Green Mountains. You’ll find places to explore along the way, including the Roaring Branch River, Grout Pond and Stratton Pond. You can find places to hike, paddle, camp and fish. Or you can just go for a fall drive on this gorgeous road in southern Vermont.
Getting there: From Route 7A, take East Arlington Road to Old Mill Road to Kansas Road. Turn right onto Kelley Stand Road. To access the road from the east, take Route 100 to West Wardsboro and head west on Stratton-Arlington Road, which eventually becomes Kelley Stand Road.
The Covered Bridges of Tunbridge
Vermont is home to more than 100 covered bridges and has the greatest concentration of covered bridges in the country. In Tunbridge, there are five historic covered bridges that cross the First Branch of the White River. The historic bridges are relatively close together and located off Route 110. The town’s covered bridges include the Flint Bridge (built in 1845), Larkin Bridge (built in 1902), Mill Bridge (built in 1883; replaced in 2000), Cilley Bridge (built in 1883), and Howe Bridge (built in 1872). If you love covered bridges, Tunbridge will not disappoint.
Getting there: From Interstate 89, take Exit 2 onto Route 132 toward Sharon and follow signs to Route 14 north and Route 110 north.
The Robert Frost Interpretative Trail in Ripton
Nothing says fall like a Robert Frost poem. The Robert Frost Interpretive Trail off Route 125 in Ripton is less than a mile in length. It starts with a bridge across Beaver Pond and winds through the woods before crossing the South Branch of the Middlebury River into a forested area. Along the way are plaques showcasing passages from the beloved poet’s work. The trail is a place where words and the woods are a magical combination.
Getting there: The Robert Frost Interpretive Trail is located off Route 125 in Ripton, just south of the Middlebury Bread Loaf Campus.
The Floating Bridge in Brookfield
Seventeen miles south of Montpelier is the town of Brookfield, which is home to the famous Floating Bridge. First built in 1820, the bridge and the town’s historic village, known as Pond Village, are part of the National Register of Historic Places. The bridge spans 321-feet across scenic Sunset Lake, which is 200 feet in some places and too deep for traditional bridge pillars or pilings. The Floating Bridge is one of only three floating bridges in the United States and the only one east of the Mississippi. Brookfield village is tiny, but it makes for a lovely detour on a fall day.
Getting there:From Interstate 89, take Exit 5 to Route 64 east and take a right onto Stone Road south to Brookfield village and Sunset Lake.
Prospect Hill Observatory in Brownington
In the far reaches of the Northeast Kingdom is the beautiful little town of Brownington in Orleans County. Brownington is where you’ll find the Old Stone House Museum, a four-story granite building that dates back to 1836. Brownington is also home to the Prospect Hill Observatory, a tall gazebo first built in 1898 (it’s since been rebuilt twice). At the top of the gazebo are panoramic views of Lake Willoughby, Lake Memphremagog, and the glorious northern Vermont mountains in between.
Getting there: From Interstate 91, take Exit 26 onto Route 58 east to Brownington.
Merck Forest in Rupert
Merck Forest is set on 3,000 acres of land that includes forests, fields, a sugarhouse and farm. Located off Route 315 near the New York state line, Merck Forest was set aside in the 1950s as a foundation by George Merck of the Merck Drug Company. Maintained through donations, Merck Forest offers hiking, camping, educational programs, and wide open spaces to explore. Since this is a working farm, you’ll also see sheep, chickens, horses, and of course, gorgeous views.
Getting there: From Route 30, take Route 315 and follow signs to Merck Forest in Rupert. Parking is available at the Visitor Center.
A Small-Town Chicken Pie Supper
Chicken pie suppers are a longstanding tradition in Vermont. Exactly when they first started is up for debate. Today, you can still find chicken pie suppers and harvest suppers happening around Vermont in Richmond, Groton, Jericho, Danville, Randolph and other communities. If you want to experience a slice of life in a small Vermont town, these annual events offer a golden opportunity.