Great Hikes near Woodstock Vermont

Columbus Day weekend usually turns out to be the prime time for foliage in Central Vermont. Tourists from all over the world descend on places like Woodstock Vermont to enjoy the foliage and outdoor activities. Peak foliage, however, is subject to the vagaries of nature. Since you have to make reservations well in advance during this time of year, you effectively place your bet and take your chances. Our fall 2018 trip bet didn’t pay off. Although we did find some nice, bright yellow trees, most of the yellows were muted. The bright reds and oranges, for which Vermont maple trees are famous, were few and far between. Given the preponderance of green leaves and the totally unseasonably 80-degree weather, we had assumed that peak foliage was late this year. However, we were told that we had missed peak by a few days. And, due to the rainy summer, the reds never really appeared. The trees turned from green to some yellows and then dead leaves. Still lovely no matter what.


Woodstock Vermont Hikes

Whether we were late or early for foliage, we love hiking the region’s many trails. Sure it often rains at this time of the year and trails could be muddy. But  it is still enjoyable. On this trip, we took several shorter hikes.

  • Quechee Gorge Trail. We always enjoy this easy, roughly 1.5-mile trail. But first we had to view the gorge from above, looking at both sides of the gorge bridge. We then went down to the trail. We walked in both directions. To the west, a dam flowed into a small, but very pretty waterfall. To the east, the Ottaqueeche River (which carved the gorge) had a bend to a riverbend whose side is laced with many layers of rock that have eroded at very different rates and make for a scenic, but difficult walk across the rugged shoreline. Few colors, but a pretty walk nonetheless. And, although the elevation changes are small and the grades relatively gradual, we—thanks to the unseasonably warm temperatures—still managed to work up a bit of a sweat.

Quechee Gorge 01Quechee Gorge 04Quechee Gorge 07

  • Mt. Ascutney Weatherfield Trail. We planned to take this 6-mile round trip, with a 2,200 foot elevation gain to the top of the tallest mountain in Eastern Vermont—a hike that we had done before. The deep forest was lovely and what we missed in bright and varied foliage colors, we made up for in the variety of mushrooms and fungi on the trail. We did make it about halfway to the lovely view from Gus’ Lookout. Then we lost the trail markers. We would normally follow rule one of hiking—if you lose the blazes, return the last one you saw and try again. Our mistake was seeing another person in the distance and ASSUMING that if we hiked to where we saw him, we would find the trail. Bad mistake. We got lost and, with the help of compass and GPS did manage to get back to the car park. Although we did not reach the summit, half the trail was much better than no trail at all. And at least we did get some exercise.


  • Mt. Tom is a modest-sized (1,340-foot) mountain behind the town of Woodstock. It is an easy hike with a payoff of a wonderful view over the town and the valley. We hiked up the gradual switchbacks of the Faulkner Trail to the summit before descending the steep Precipice trail. This pretty climb was made even better by the spotting of a deer who was as interested in (actually cautious of) us as we were interested in him (or her). And of course  the mushrooms and at least one lovey red and orange tree at the base of the trail very pretty sites.

Mt Tom viewMt Tom 19Mt Tom deerMt Tom 13DSC09574

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