It is no secret that fall is one of the best seasons in Vermont as the state boasts cooler temperatures, stunning fall foliage, and an endless array of autumnal activities, from apple picking to corn mazes. As the leaves crunch beneath your feet, a warm wool sweater keeps you toasty, and a fresh apple cider inspires the day, enjoy the state's warm-toned foliage in some of its lesser-known spots and least-crowded towns.
The best time to visit Vermont for the best fall colors ranges from mid-September to mid-October, so now is the time to plant your trip! Revel in the carpet of colors as you wander through the state's most charming towns, forests, and parks without the worry of being caught up in a flurry of people, and instead reconnect with the beauty of fall on a more isolated adventure.
While Bennington has a population of over 15,000, its selection of fall activities and beautiful wilderness ensures a quiet moment or two (at least), featuring a blend of lively communities and quaint pastoral areas. Plus, it sits just three and a half hours from New York City where many travelers focus their visit. The town of Bennington is home to five covered bridges which are especially picturesque in the fall, perfect for a leisurely walk or scenic drive through the area. The town is also home to part of the oldest long-distance trail in America, Vermont's 272-mile Long Trail, which follows the ridgeline of the Green Mountains.
Liberty Hill Farm & Inn brands itself a "quintessential Vermont farm stay," offering hearty homemade meals, easy access to nearby trails, and cute cows to entertain the kids.
East Burke is one of the most picturesque towns in Vermont, though its beauty is seemingly kept well under wraps as its population is 1,700. The Kingdom Trails, easily accessible via the beautiful and cozy Burke Mountain Resort, are the perfect spot for mountain biking, with over 100 miles of trails for travelers to tour through. Burke Mountain also offers plenty of camping spots for visitors to extend their stay. Kayaking, canoeing, and fishing are all available along the picturesque Lake Willoughby, which colorful trees reflect off of in the fall. Mount Pisgah and Mount Hor offer plenty of hiking trails, ideal for travelers in search of lookout points and stunning autumnal views.
Manchester is one of the friendliest towns in Vermont, but it is also one of the most beautiful yet underrated fall destinations. The town, home to just 4,500 inhabitants, sits along the Batten Kill River, one of the longest rivers in Vermont, and amid the Taconic Range and the Green Mountains. Because of its proximity to the two mountain ranges, the town boasts some of Vermont's most beautiful sights and is an excellent spot to watch as the colors change amongst the treeline for the season. Visit the Manchester Farmer's Market every Thursday afternoon on Adams Green for seasonal produce like apples and pumpkins, fresh pies and treats, and handcrafted goods. For those who would like to pick pumpkins and apples themselves, visit Mad Tom Orchards or Equinox Valley Nursery’s Pumpkin Patch, which also hosts wagon rides with views of the colorful mountain ranges.
Woodstock is one of Vermont's cutest small towns, with a population of just under 3,000 and close proximity to the big city of Burlington. The locale features a cozy, quaint atmosphere and plenty of room for outdoor adventure. For some of the best fall sights, travelers may tour through Aqueduct Trails, the Appalachian Trail, or Eshqua Bog Natural Area.
Trek to the Top is a popular fall event where visitors and locals alike hike to South Peak from Faulkner Park, Prosper Road, or the Billings Farm & Museum. The Apples, Crafts, and Food Truck Festival is another autumnal happening, featuring specialty fall foods and handmade goods. There is also a Little Shop Of Horrors musical at the Grange Theatre and a spooky haunted house at Woodstock Masonic Lodge.
Brattleboro, with a population of just over 12,000, is one of the most beautiful small towns in New England, and it is also a stop along one of Vermont's most scenic road trips: Molly Stark Scenic Byway, which captures the beauty of the hardwood forests and changing foliage. Travelers may enjoy the explosions of color through fall hikes and walks as well, wandering through trials and destinations such as the Hogle Wildlife Sanctuary, the West River Trail, and Fort Dummer State Park. There are also a number of trails that lead to summit vistas, perfect for taking in panoramic views of the fall foliage, such as Mount Monadnock, Mount Wantastiquet, and Molly Stark State Park. Visitors may also reserve a scenic train ride featuring historic tales at the Green Mountain Railroad, just an hour north of the town.
Though Grafton, a hamlet of just 600 people, typically comes alive in summer, it boasts stunning fall foliage and exciting events that make it an underrated destination in autumn. Grafton Trails & Outdoor Center is a great point of interest for viewing fall foliage, covering 2,000 scenic acres with plenty of trails for hiking, mountain biking, and horseback riding. Plummer's Sugar House is a great spot to indulge in sweet maple treats such as syrup, candy, and maple cream spread. Fall events include the Hayden Forest Annual Woods Walk, the Community Pig Roast, and Burger and Brew Night at the Grafton Inn. The best places to stay to get a taste of the town's storied past and delve into the charm and beauty of fall are the Grafton Inn, the Red House, and Grafton Village Haven.
Waitsfield has a population of just over 1,800 and sits within the Mad River Valley, though its proximity to Stowe means it often goes forgotten. The town earned a spot on Yankee Magazine's list of "Top 25 Foliage Towns in New England," boasting gorgeous treelines along the Mad River. Travelers and locals also enjoy the Mad River Ride, which offers the perfect chance to view the beauty of the striking hues of red, yellow, and orange. The Waitsfield Farmers Market is another must-do, perfect for enjoying the bounty of the fall harvest. A sunset picnic at Knoll Farm offers picturesque views of the surrounding valley and foliage, while biking the backroads is a great way to spend a weekend afternoon and explore the area.
With a population just above 300, Granville is a charming hamlet and an ideal escape for those in search of a more remote getaway. Granville sits just under an hour from the ever-so-popular town of Stowe, making it the road less traveled amongst visitors, but that doesn't make it any less beautiful. The most popular and beautiful spot to catch fall foliage in Granville is Moss Glen Falls, which is one of the most photographed waterfalls in the state. Golden leaves swirl in the pool at the bottom of the falls, green moss covers the rocks, and autumnal foliage encompasses the treeline above. Hike the 1.5-mile trail from Lincoln Gap to Sunset Rock for breathtaking views of Lake Champlain and the Adirondack Mountains, or traverse through the town's forests via the Robert Frost Interpretive Trail.
Fall in Love With Vermont
Vermont draws in hundreds of visitors each fall season because of its natural beauty, but you don't have to get caught up in the crowds when visiting these small towns. Instead, find yourself on a more isolated getaway, whether you camp in the woods, enjoy local autumnal events, or partake in a scenic drive through the area. Whether the covered bridge of Brattleboro calls your name or the picturesque landscape of Bennington piques your fancy, fall adventure awaits in Vermont.