7 Rutland Hikes Perfect for Leaf Peeping
As the leaves start to change color, we’ve compiled a list of our favorite foliage-viewing hikes in the Rutland area.
There are few fall pleasures that compare with letting your eyes feast on the colorful displays of our Green Mountains from the peak of one of these mountains.
Some helpful tips:
1. Pack layers for the summit. It’s always cooler up there than you expect it to be.
2. Be bear-aware (and hunting season aware). Wear bright colors, stay on designated trails, sing if you’re hiking by yourself.
3. Pack in and pack out. Let’s keep these mountains beautiful!
This 4.1 mile loop is located minutes outside of Downtown Rutland and provides an easy hike to four beautiful vistas: Rutland (“North Vista”), Cold River, Pico (although the view is mainly Mendon and Killington Peaks), and Red Rocks.
It’s such an easy hike and so close to Rutland that you can do it after work and watch as the color seeps down the mountain sides as the temperature cools and days shorten.
Expert tip: when you get to the fork in the trail (currently the sign showing directions is missing), we suggest taking a right. The incline is gentler and you conquer the longest stretch without views first so it’s out of the way.
Bald Mountain is in Aitken State Forest located right off of Notch Road in Mendon (click here for detailed directions). The trail is family and dog-friendly.
Mount Horrid, Brandon Gap
Mount Horrid is a great option if you’re looking for a shorter but challenging hike earlier in leaf peeping season.
It’s a 2.6 mile long trail with 1,030 feet of elevation gain achieved by climbing up rock stairs.
If you’re heading up from the Rutland area, we recommend checking out Foley Brothers Brewery on the way back. If you’re in the mood for a drive, continue over the gap into Rochester where the leaves tend to change a little earlier than in Rutland.
Find directions here.
Pico Peak & Deer Leap
These two hikes start from either side of the Sherburne pass, right by the Inn at Long Trail. Deer leap is a short, easy hike up to a rock cliff that offers beautiful views to the west and south, as well as of Pico Mountain. It’s a fun family hike that can easily fit in a morning or afternoon.
At just under 4,000 feet, Pico Peak is much more of a full day hike. The 5.8 mile out-and-back trail starts off in the woods but near the top pops out onto the trails and gets fairly steep. However, the view is worth it.
To get an even better panorama, we suggest hiking down the Killington-Pico interconnect trail that you can find to the right of the trail marked 49er. It provides a breathtaking display of the Green Mountains.
Find directions to the trailheads here.
Pine Hill Park
Want to enjoy the foliage without leaving Rutland City?
Head over to Pine Hill Park and up the Rocky Pond Trail. It’s a wide trail and an easy walk, perfect for a lazy weekend afternoon with the family. Once you arrive at the pond, follow the “Shimmer” trail to your left up to the overlook.
It’s a beautiful outing right in our backyard.
Killington Peak via the Bucklin Trail
This is a local favorite for Rutlanders looking for a full-day adventure.
The 7.2 mile Bucklin Trail starts off from a dirt road right over East Mountain, and meanders gently up a creek for the first few miles. After the waterfall, things start to get uphill and the steepness and rock scramble continue until the top.
There’s a beautiful alpine section near the top where moss and short and scrappy pine trees create a fantastic, fairy-tale-like atmosphere.
Be sure to pack lunch – you’ll have worked up an appetite by the time you make it to the top. The peak is worth every minute of the hike.
It offers nearly 360 degrees of views, from the Adirondacks visible across Lake Champlain, up the spine of the Green Mountains, and over to the White Mountains in New Hampshire.
You can hike down the same route, or, if you’ve got two cars, you can park one at the K1 base lodge of Killington and take the work road down (or run down the ski trails) – be aware of mountain bikers though!
Find directions to the Bucklin Trailhead here.
Blue Ridge Mountain
This is one of our all-time favorite Rutland hikes because its TWO peak vistas offer both a panoramic view of Rutland as well as a glimpse of Pico.
Accessed by the Canty Trail, Blue Ridge is a 4.9 mile (with 1,578 elevation gain) trek, but there’s a treat halfway that motivates you to keep going: a waterfall just steps off the trail.
Part of the Green Mountain National Forest, the trail is well-marked and maintained. The trail head is on Old Turnpike Road in Mendon – if you’ve hiked this trail in the past, please note that the trail head has been relocated further up Old Turnpike Road. Keep driving until you see a small pull off and a trail register.
The trail is dog-friendly, but probably a little too ambitious for children under 8 yrs (unless backpack size). Find more information here.
Mount Zion, Taconic Mountains Ramble State Park
If you’re looking for an amazing views AND history, look no farther than Mount Zion in Taconic Mountains Ramble, Vermont’s newest State Park.
The hike is rated as “difficult,” but this is only relative to the rest of the meandering paths in the park. The short hike leads up to an aerial view of the Hubbardton Battlefield and the surrounding mountains.
After the hike, continue down past the visitor center to the Zen Garden and relax in the Adirondack chairs while enjoying beautiful valley views that only Vermont can offer.
Find directions here.