There’s no better way to enjoy the outdoors than taking family hikes, especially in the fall when the weather is cooler and the leaves are changing colors. Hiking with the family provides quality time together, allows the family to grow closer, develops life-long memories, and introduces the next generation to the outdoors. It’s no wonder that statistics show that nationally more than 34 million people went hiking in 2013, a number that has remained consistent for the past few years.
You don’t need to walk very far to experience the joys of being outdoors with your loved ones. It’s about discovery and having fun. For parents taking kids on a hike, it is recommended that the child’s early experiences be positive, so avoid plans to reach that favorite spot or the top of the mountain. Keep it simple by being flexible and adaptive to make sure the younger ones have a good time.
These Vermont hiking destinations are suited for hikers of all ages and abilities, with a variety of terrain to choose from. Whether you want to ride a gondola up and just hike downhill, have a glass of wine mid-hike or summit a monster peak by noon, these Vermont hikes have something for everyone.
Bolton Valley Nordic Center
There are more than 62 miles of Nordic and backcountry ski trails at Bolton Valley, and in the summer these same trails provide paths for hiking adventures in some 1,000 acres of wilderness. Some trails lead up the valley to the ridge-line where hikers can connect with Vermont’s Long Trail.
With 15 miles of hiking trails at Killington Resort, you can summit Vermont’s second tallest peak and be treated to a 360-degree view of Vermont’s Green Mountains, New York’s Adirondack Mountains and New Hampshire’s White Mountains. Additionally, near the top of the mountain there is access to the Peak Lodge, Killington’s state-of-the-art facility, which offers fresh food and cold drinks to hikers and mountain bikers all summer long. The K1 gondola lift is also available for rides to reach the summit for those who don’t want to hike all the way up.
Smugglers’ Notch Resort
Smuggler’s Notch Resort’s location in the Green Mountains provides many opportunities for professional and self-guided hiking for all ages. The resort hosts guided outings designed for families with young children with a gentle pace and fun learning opportunities along the way. Other guided outings entice new hikers and experienced hikers with the opportunity to learn more about the history of the surrounding area and the local flora and fauna, and to summit some of the area’s most challenging peaks. Guided hiking is included in many of the resort’s vacation packages. Information on self-guided outings is also available.
Trapp Family Lodge
There are more than 37 miles of wooded hiking trails for all abilities at Trapp Family Lodge in Stowe, Vt. There is a short, peaceful hike to the Chapel, built by the Trapp family sons on their return home after World War II. A more challenging hike takes you to the Slayton Pasture Cabin, a favorite resting spot for cross-country skiers or snowshoers in the winter. Guided nature walks are also available to learn about native plants, wildlife and the evolving landscape.
Woodstock Inn & Resort
The Woodstock Inn & Resort is surrounded by more than 60 miles of interconnected trails and pathways that wind through Woodstock Village, nearby meadows and woodlands, scenic vistas, and rural countryside. Pedestrian pathways skirt local landmarks, while off-road trails yield magnificent vistas from the summits of Mount Peg and Mount Tom. For a historic walking tour of Woodstock’s past, stroll the 20-mile colonial carriage roads as they wander through the Marsh-Billings-Rockefeller National Historical Park and intersect with the Appalachian Trail.
Don’t forget these basic guidelines while hiking at all times:
- Leave No Trace.
- Educated children about how to recognize dangerous plants and animals, the perils of drinking stream water and basic survival skills in case they get lost
- Dress in layers and wear supportive shoes with good quality socks
- Carry a pack with a knife, matches, a flashlight, sunscreen, bug spray, snacks and plenty of water, even if you are just planning a short, easy trek
- Tell someone—even a hotel staff member—where you are going and when you plan to return
For more information about hiking and snowshoeing in Vermont, please visit Roger Lohr’s website at www.xcskiresorts.com.