Fall Hikes @ Vermont State Parks, Part II: Central & Southern VT

Fall scenery in Quechee, VT

Love trees? As the name suggests, this park is known for its’ woods and old- growth forest, which has been an attraction since the 1930s. Take a leisurely hike around Kent Pond, or a more strenuous one up nearby Deer Leap Trail.

Gifford Woods is open for camping and hiking through October 16th. There are 22 tent/ trailer sites, 21 lean-tos, and 4 rental cabins at the park.


Camp at the base of 3,144 Mt. Ascutney, and hike one of the 4 trails to the summit. There are twelve miles of trails in all, and many spots to take in the views, which include the mountains of Vermont and New Hampshire, the Connecticut River valley below, and the Windsor Cornish Covered Bridge that spans the river.  
Mt. Ascutney State Park is open until October 16th. There are 38 tent/RV and 10 lean-to shelters available to reserve.


Day use area at Molly Stark in Wallingford
After you’ve watched the colors of northern VT fade, head south to repeat the experience. A 1.7 mile hike takes you up Mt. Olga and back again. As a bonus, you can climb the fire tower to get great views of the mountains in three states: Vermont, New Hampshire and Massachusetts. If you want to do more hiking, the park is also adjacent to more trails at Hogback Mountain.

Trail map to Mt. Olga & nearby trails.

You can camp at Molly Stark through Columbus Day weekend. There are 23 tent/ RV campsites and 11 lean-to shelters available.


Emerald Lake is a southern park with a sometimes-overlooked trail system, including an easy walk following the shore of Emerald Lake, and the scenic Vista Loop Trail which offers views of the lake and surrounding hills.

Map of the trail system at Emerald Lake.

Emerald Lake State Park is open through Columbus Day weekend. There are 64 campsites and 37 lean-to shelters available to reserve. 


The hike to Quechee Gorge from the park is good for families, not too difficult, and very pretty in the fall. After visiting the gorge, take a fall drive through nearby Woodstock to do some shopping, or just admire the stately old buildings in town.

Quechee State Park is open until October 16th, and there are 45 tent/ RV and 7 lean-tos at the park. 

Trail map and geology of the Quechee area

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